Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Eden & Gethsemane

Gardens and nature are an important part of our lives and history.  A good part of my childhood was spent "helping" out in the gardens, scanning the road ditches for asparagus or paddling through the marsh.  The pioneers could not have survived without their gardens, fields and an abundance of wild food to forage.  Farming and gardening were also important to our nation's first and more recent Presidents

The last several weeks I've reflected on how big of a part they play throughout the Bible as well.  On Easter, I shared an article from Sustainable Traditions comparing the germination of dormant seeds to the resurrection of Jesus.  This week will revisit the human-natural-spiritual connection as we look at nature and the gardens of Eden and Gethsemane.

"There's something about examining a delicate flower, or
admiring a rushing waterfall that reminds us we are not accidents,
and our God is an awesome God!"   -Read more at newspring.cc
Creation and Nature
These were God's first missionary.  We can learn much about God by considering the works of His hands. Creation highlights a number of God’s attributes--His character traits.
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:20
For a full commentary on Romans 1:20 go to jcblog.net

The Bible also draws attention to nature to illustrate lessons about life and conduct as guidance for us.  See also Psalm 19:1-2
Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? Job 12:7-9
Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise Proverbs 6:6
Jesus referred to agriculture and farming practices of the time in His teachings, too; the parable of the sower, references to viniculture (highlighted in Secrets of the Vine) and more.  See also Matthew 20:8
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed..."  Matthew 13:3
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:1-2



Garden of Delight
The Hebrew word "Eden" means delight.  What was it like?
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.  The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9

Trees.  "Pleasing to the eye and good for food".  Sound familiar? 
This wasn't just a backyard vegetable garden, but a massive food forest, teeming with plant and animal life, strikingly beautiful, with an abundance of food.

Original Mission - What were we made to do?

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

One reason for being created was to be caretakers and stewards of this miraculous place that had all we needed.  Eden was a paradise that had all humans needed, but yet we wanted just a little more...  and for that we were expelled.  But we still live on this planet created for us, which is an amazing place. 

"God is not asking us to turn everything into a productive vegetable garden, but is asking us to serve the needs of our earth, and to recognize its goodness and worth."
Read more on the vocation of "Avad:To Serve the Earth"

Garden of Gethsemane
Gethsemane means Place of the Olive Press, this Garden included trees.  Natural settings can calm our spirits and bring a sense of well-being.  Jesus went there with the disciples to pray often. 
Prayers in a garden, not the temple?  
Jesus himself found comfort, peace and a favorite place to pray at Gethsemane.

The most famous visit to the garden was the night of Judas's betrayal, after their Passover feast.  The events of that night, in the Garden of Gethsemane, have echoed through the centuries in art, music, books and recently film. (Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:40-53 & John 18:1-11)

Ancient Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane
All creation points to the Creator.  Natural systems are like illustrations in a children's book; they help tell the story for those who can't yet get the full meaning of the words. 

  Would you like to "feed your flock" as well as enhancing your faith community's space?   

A space designated for a garden such as these would provide an area where people could go and experience God's Creation.  One could spend time in communion with God through a forest garden, much as Adam and Eve might have.  These natural spaces would provide a sense of calming and peace, like Jesus and his disciples felt at Gethsemane.  These gardens would also provide nutrient rich food to use or share in the community, while needing less maintenance than traditional community gardens or manicured lawn space.

Abundant Design can help with your mission of sharing God's glory.

These types of Forest Gardens are our specialty!

Maybe you would like a smaller version for your own backyard, we can do that too!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Patio Production in a Mini-Woodland

When doing a permaculture design a property is divided into zones.  Zone 1 is where you spend most of your time and you work out from there to Zone 5, the wild spaces.
Zones 1-3 from "Introduction to Permaculture"

This recently completed planting in Johnston is a great example of a Zone 1 feature.  It shows what you can do right near your home, in this case just off the patio, with easy access for care and harvest.

Retaining walls had been installed the previous year by another contractor.  I was contacted to design a planting for the area.

During the site visit topics included fruit trees, bird & pollinator benefits, and companion interactions with low maintenance.  The following plan, developed based on the homeowners favorites and plant availability.

Design for the plant communities
Located next to the patio, where the grill is kept, made an excellent place for herbs to be planted right at an easy harvesting height.  Sage within arms reach for grilling chicken, or the soothing scent of lavender while relaxing in the evening watching the sunset.  The Western facing inside corner provides a warm sunny area perfect for heat loving herbs. 

Closer to the retaining walls and under the shade of the fruit trees Ostrich ferns will provide a lush green backdrop.  They also will have edible fiddleheads in the Spring as the columbines and hellebores flower. 

American Cranberry and Aronia will provide some Fall color as well as berries for birds and people. Daffodils, clover and comfrey will cycle nutrients helping the fruit trees until established.

Sheet Mulch
After calling in the utility locates, the soil was amended and the trees, shrubs and other plants were installed.  Following planting, cardboard was put down as a biodegradable weed barrier.  With the warm Spring weeds were already growing on the bare dirt.

Another layer of compost
Wild garlic chives were plentiful, so multiple layers were added in these places.  Another layer of compost was added to hold down the cardboard and speed up its decomposition.

The capstones of the retaining walls were matched to use as edging giving it a unified look.

Finally ramial chipped wood was sourced locally as a great low cost alternative to dyed hardwood mulch.  If you don't mind a few larger sticks and twigs, they provide more nutrients quickly that help build quality soil.  After a few rains the chips will look clean as the leaves and bark wash in, helping offset nitrogen tied-up by the woodchips.

Here are the after pictures with plants just starting to grow.  Follow Abundant Design on Facebook for more pictures as this Patio Project matures this summer.

After: Patio Production in a Mini-Woodland
After: Time to Grow!
Don't forget to Like and Share or Leave a Comment on this post on Facebook!

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers Day Weekend

Mom helping out on a project earlier this year

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, and especially the mothers in my life!

My mom, my mother in law, plus my two grandmothers and my wonderful wife.

All have done, and are doing an amazing job with the children under their care :)

From making sure we had healthy meals and ate our vegetables, to comforting us when we had a skinned knee or lost a pet, moms have a special kind of love for their children.

Thank you!

A Mother's Day bouquet with columbines,
chive, horseradish, camassia, and
comfrey flowers - A very "Permie" Mix

I also celebrated a birthday last week, with an unexpected gift in the back yard. 

I had tried with very little success last year trying to grow nasturtiums.  Granted I was a bit early in the season, trying to get them to flower in time for the March home show, but they are supposedly easy to grow.  I filed parts of the seed coat off, I soaked them, etc. etc.  I eventually got a couple spindly looking plants in time, but no flowers until much later in the year after I transplanted them outside.

Late last week and into the weekend I found several, then another and yet another scattered about the landscape!  I must have tossed the extra seed and/or failed attempts randomly...

 Under one of our maples, and another with Echinacea and clover near the rain barrel

These were hiding out in and near the kitchen herbs
Plus projects continue...
I can't decide if the big grin is from knowing I was being photographed, really enjoying bringing this project to life, or was just happy the job was all done but the clean-up.  Probably all three!
Have a great week and thanks for reading!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spring Rush & Birthday Break

It's my birthday this week so I'm taking the week of blogging off, sort of I guess.
A video of the bats we watched hunt while playing
around at Walker Johnston park in Urbandale

Also read "Half Hearted Fanatic"

We've been working hard on several projects - retaining walls with native plantings, including a few edibles; Herbs by the grill and other edibles and shade plantings near a patio; and continued work on a backyard food forest.  We also were preparing for a couple rain gardens, native privacy screening and a patio/firepit project.

After enjoying some of the Spring sights (below) in our yard, I planted some tomatoes, peppers and more in our own garden, and gave our garage a much needed cleaning and sweeping. <cough, cough>
 Irises - close up

 Ostrich fern and one of the last tulips

Iris, strawberry, columbines and blue flax

Next week there is a fund raising event for Primary Health Care, the facility where the healing garden will be going.  Funds raised will go towards their mission of providing healthcare and supportive services for people in Central Iowa to improve their quality of life.

Support them here-

Tuesday, May 16 at 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Forte Banquet & Conference Center
615 3rd Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Get tickets HERE

Have a great week!