From the Adrian Dominican Sisters' Permaculture Office

Fourteen Siena Heights University and Barry University students participated in the first collaborative environmental leadership program, designed and hosted by the Adrian Dominican Sisters' Permaculture Office.

The intensive, two-week program May 13-28, 2017, was a daily immersion experience in the five permaculture principles: observation; every element supports many functions; diversity; think globally, act locally; and sustainable systems.

The primary principle of observation enlivened the Dominican value of contemplation. Each day, students were encouraged to spend time thoughtfully observing the natural systems on the Motherhouse campus.

The principle that every element supports many functions was embodied in the goals of the two weeks:
  • Take students to different bio-regions. For some, being in a forest was a new experience.
  • Combine theory with hands-on experiences, such as digging small berms and swales.

  • Enhance respect for diversity with multicultural sharing. Students came from diverse cultures: Bangladesh, Venezuela, Kenya, the Bahamas, Florida, New York, California, and Michigan.
The program emphasized the advantages of diversity through polyculture ----  the use of a variety of crops, rather than monoculture, in which only one crop is grown in the same area.

Program leaders demonstrated the principle of think globally, act locally  through visits to the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative ; Eastern Market and On the Rise Bakery , both in Detroit; and the Farmers Market in Adrian. 

Participants were inspired by the practical ways that Aquinas College in Grand Rapids incorporated  sustainable systems  on campus and by their visit to the Lenawee Intermediate School District's Center for a Sustainable Future in Adrian. The students were encouraged to take what they learned back to their campuses. 

Species Spotlight

By Kintaiyo ----  Own work, CC BY 3.0

Stropharia rugosoannulata, also known as King Stropharia, wine cap, or garden giant, is a species of mushroom of the fungus kingdom. Fungi are key to all terrestrial ecosystems. They are important community partners, even acting as building blocks to our own immune system!

A native to North America and Europe, wine caps are best known for their beautiful wine coloring and impressive size. At full maturity, the tops of these mushrooms can reach more than 11.8 inches across, or about the size of a dinner plate! But these garden giants do much more than put on a spectacular show of fairytale-like abundance.

Emulating many permaculture principles, wine caps help to increase the diversity of edible, medicinal, and multifunctional elements. Not only do they help to feed the soil web, they also deter harmful nematodes and quickly convert organic matter (biomass), such as wood chips, into rich humus, which can be spread around to benefit fruit trees, berries, and vegetables. In summary, wine caps provide food, soil enrichment, and pest control, using water, woodchips, and shade.

Find the Adrian Dominican Sisters' patch of wine caps in the shade of the trees at the southern food forest entrance gate, across from the Dominican Life Center parking lot. Keep on the lookout for these amazing giants to pop after a few more weeks of warm and wet weather. From this single inoculated patch, wine cap mycelium can be spread to other areas rich in biomass, where they will grow again. This process can be repeated indefinitely wherever fresh biomass is available for the mushrooms to eat. Wine caps are truly super permies!

For more information:
Upcoming Events
  • Master Rain Gardener Certification ----  Beginning Friday, July 14, this free webinar class will broadcast live in the Auditorium at Hidden Lake Gardens. Registration is required.
  • Adrian Farmers Market, open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in downtown at the Toledo Street parking lot.
  • Madison Township Farmers Market, open Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Kohl's east parking lot, 2050 E. U.S. Highway 223.

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