Let me ask you again – is it local? Beating around the sustainably grown bush

For those who aren’t familiar, the title of this blog post is in reference to an episode of Portlandia, an IFC sitcom poking fun at the residents of Portland, Oregon.

Buzz words like organic and locally grown (and the people who use them) are easy to mock, but there are also reasons to take a closer look at the principles that inspired these catch phrases. An increasing amount of people are becoming concerned about the future of our planet and how that will effect local families and communities.

Portland and Eugene are often the butt of jokes about environmentalism and the “nut-jobs” that care about it, but that’s partly because they are centers of thought, theory and environmental activism that sets an example for the rest of the world.

There are a multitude of reasons to care about sustainability — to save money, to clean up the planet, to save the animals, to survive the apocalypse, etc. It doesn’t really matter what inspires a person to learn more about sustainable practices like permaculture, just getting involved in whatever way possible — that is what matters.

First, it helps to understand the principles behind such a lifestyle. This illustrated guide breaks it down quick and simple.

The web is teeming with sources on permaculture and homesteading, many of which come right out of Eugene.  So without further ado, let’s meet the experts:

  • Jan Spencer has documented nearly every step of transforming her previously standard suburban home into a thriving example of the potential of permaculture.
  • The Food not Lawns blog was founded by Heather C. Flores, another Eugene resident. She has written a book of the same name, and her blog has gone international to help people around the globe find folks with similar goals.
  • Lost Valley Education Center offers Oregonians various opportunities to learn about sustainable permaculture through apprenticeships, classes and weekend workshops. Residents of their on-site Intentional Living village practice what the education center preaches on a daily basis.
  • Lane County’s School Garden Project, a non-profit organization works to implement gardens in schools with the aim of teaching children about the skills and values surrounding sustainability. Their website offers information on the program as well as a Resources page that provides useful information.

Within the permaculture umbrella, there are many specialties to explore. Composting is one essential part of the process.

  • Worm bins are a popular composting method. This sight will give you all the nuts and bolts of starting a worm bin, with community specific examples of how this method has been implemented, one of them in Eugene.
  • Worm Digest has an abundance of information about how, where and why one would start composting with worms.

Water Conservation

  • University of Oregon student conducted an experiment about harvesting rainwater. Their Learn More page offers links to everything a person could want to know about practical applications to harvest rainwater. For those interested they also discuss the experiment in detail.
  • HarvestH20, written by Doug Proushard and Lane Community College faculty member Tammi Stark, discusses policy related to rainwater collection. Great for those trying to instil rainwater harvesting on a larger scale.

Beekeeping — another great piece of the permaculture pie suited for the more adventurous type.

  • Back in July the Register-Guard published an article on small-time bee-keepers. Gives a good introduction to locals in the scene.
  • Beezkneez blogger R. Paul Gordon writes about his personal experiences with beekeeping. With loads of pictures and video, he gives insight into all the nitty gritty details.
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