Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

ONE MAN’S YARD … is another man’s edible landscape. This week HOMEGROWN chatted with Joshua, an avid composter and delightfully humble guy from Washington State who’s in the process of turning his backyard into a permaculture haven—or, in his words, “a mini food forest.” Now that sounds like a place we'd like to hang out and graze. Got a question or a tip for Josh? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling.

What is Meet Your Neighbors? We can spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands.

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Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on November 18, 2013 at 12:37pm

Good morning, Joshua! Thanks for chatting with HOMEGROWN! Before we dive in, the requisite first question: What's the weather like in Vancouver, Washington, this morning?

Comment by Joshua on November 18, 2013 at 1:03pm

Sadly the winter weather has arrived and brought with it the clouds, rain and cold. How is the weather in Cambridge, Massachusetts this morning?  

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on November 18, 2013 at 1:12pm

So! Much! Warmer! than the last week. It'll get colder again soon, but we'll enjoy the reprieve while we've got it! How has the arrival of winter affected your Big Backyard Plan? And for folks here who haven't heard about it yet, can you tell us more about the undertaking of turning your backyard into a permaculture haven?

Comment by Joshua on November 18, 2013 at 1:31pm

Its great to get the short breaks, makes the season more enjoyable. The weather hasn't slowed me down much, outside of a few days that were simply too blustery to be productive. I caught the permaculture bug about 9 months ago while converting 320 sq. ft. of my back yard to raised bed gardens to grow as much of my own food as I could. While this project was unfolding, I immersed myself  in research to better understand the concepts with permaculture and how they may apply to my slice of the world. From that was born my desire to convert my entire back yard to a productive edible landscape, a mini food forest if you will. Since I have added egg chickens, vermiculture infrastructure to provide nutrient rich organic material from my waste and am the observation stage of developing the remaining square footage I have remaining with the intention to begin to apply those observations this spring.      

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on November 18, 2013 at 1:38pm

A mini food forest, if we will? We will! It sounds amazing already. Just curious: You say you were bit by the permie bug. What bit you? Something you read or heard or ate? And part 2: We hear you've been composting for a while. Can you tell us more about your multibay setup?

Comment by Joshua on November 18, 2013 at 2:17pm

I was first drawn in by the Permaculture ethics "care of the earth, care of people and fair share" As a dirt worshiping tree hugger, these rang close to home. The permies bug took a firm foot hold once I watched "Greening the Desert" where Geoff Lawton traveled to Jordan to challenge the status quo on where and how food can be grown. It was a real eye opener and the catalyst for me to learn more. What was once a hobby has become a borderline addiction. As far as the composting, I have been composting both traditionally and using red worms. I have been utilizing both to test and measure the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of end product for my long term needs. While I find the traditional way more arduous with the regular turning of the pile and all, the volume I can compost greatly exceeds the worms up to this point. The multi-bin system I built was constructed using pallets and scrap wood I had at my house and designed using elements from several designs I saw on YouTube. Having more than one bay is great if you have large amounts of material to compost since you can start another bay when the other has been filled.    

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on November 18, 2013 at 2:30pm

So impressive that you've got multiple bins going. With all that compost, you'll be in great shape come spring. Now, we've heard that, aside from your outdoor endeavors, you may speak (or write) a little Latin, as well—which leads us to think you're a true Renaissance man. Does the Latin come in handy with plant names? Any other hidden talents your fellow HOMEGROWN members should know about? 

Comment by Joshua on November 18, 2013 at 2:40pm

I wish that I could claim higher levels of fluency in Latin, however my limited knowledge has been acquired from reading and therefore I fall short of a Renaissance man, maybe one day. Outside the love of cooking, learning and exploring I'm a pretty simple guy. 

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on November 18, 2013 at 2:42pm

Here at HOMEGROWN, we live for simple. Many thanks again for chatting with us, Joshua. We'll let you get back to your day, but one last question: What's for dinner at your house tonight? (Bonus points if it's simple!)

Comment by Joshua on November 18, 2013 at 2:46pm

Thank you for opportunity to join this wonderful community and to be honest I was going to give the Butternut Squash, Apple, Bacon, Onion and Mozz pizza a go tonight. I have a soft spot for a great pizza and this seems to fit the bill. 


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