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

I’ve been considering two principles of permaculture this week: Distribute the Surplus and the Problem is the Solution. The first is easy—the second, not so much so.


Distribute the Surplus happens, formally, twice a year. In the spring, we send off the extra tomato starts into the world. I’ll start eight to twelve seeds for each variety, which means, in a good year, we have about 80 extra plants. They leave home in April. People now wait for the announcement. In fact, Nancy starts asking several weeks in advance.  The other event happens in the fall, when the fig tree comes ripe. The branches bend down almost to the ground, heavy with fruit, in late September. It ripens over the course of several weeks, coming to a halt only when the fall rains turn figs into fig bombs.  It has been dry a long while this year, so we have an extended harvest. I’ve made fig jam and dried about five quarts, so I am about to pound the sign into the ground. “Yes,” it reads, “You can pick the figs. But be respectful of the garden plants.” Strangers and friends will be harvesting our fruit all week long. Distribute the surplus. It is good karma.


The Problem is the Solution has puzzled me for a long time. It sounds good—a change in perspective, in thinking, can resolve the problem. But how does that play out? This Saturday, I think I figured it out. It was a home football game and the Beavers have been winning, which means more “Go Beaving” in our neighborhood. We are not fans of the Beaver Bellow so we left town. We climbed up to the top of Rooster Rock, with a lovely view of the Cascades as far as The Sisters in the  smoke hazy distance. We spent the afternoon reading and writing on the mountain top, listening to the wind in the firs and the quiet buzz of a few flies. It was lovely. It solved two problems for us as well—we never leave town in Fall because we are too busy and we don’t like the Beaver Bellow. The problem is the solution. Two problems solved.  We came home to a potluck supper with friends.


Applesauce Cake from the mid-seventies (can also be made with figs)


2.5 cups of flour (half whole wheat is nice)

1.5 cups sugar

1.5 t baking soda

.25 t baking powder

.75 t cinnamon

.5 t cloves and allspice

1.5 cups of applesauce (or squashed figs)

.5 cup of oil

2 eggs

handful of raisins and walnuts


Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet together, add wet to dry. Pour into tube pan or a 13 by 9 inch pan.

350 oven until done

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Comment by Jennifer on October 8, 2012 at 1:57pm

Hi, Charlyn. So well put, we made your blog post today's Daily Bite, at the very top of the homepage. Thanks for sharing your lovely reflections—not to mention your fig cake recipe!


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