Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Such a simple title for such a complicated endeavor. Especially when you're moving 2500 miles with a pregnant wife and a 2 year old, and taking your garden with you. Add to that the constant churning feeling in your stomach, arising from the knowledge that what awaits you at the other end is a sorry excuse for a "house" in a neighborhood that's questionably safe at best. There's no wiring, no plumbing fixtures, no kitchen, no bathroom, no air conditioning (in middle Georgia with summer bearing down), the walls were destroyed when the wiring was stolen, and firewood litters the floor, reminding you that someone else will lose their home when you assume ownership. Hopefully peacefully.

On the other hand the place only cost $3000 and has 1/4 acre of decent garden soil around it, and potentially a LOT more next door and across the street. I say "decent" only from a permacultural perspective, knowing that the heavy clay and weeds framing "the manor" under my care will give way to deep, humus-rich earth, teeming with beneficial soil microbes over the next couple of seasons. And since we're going there to be urban farmers, this is of the utmost importance.

If our intent was to buy a house that supported a job or two requiring new clothes and new colleagues, this one just wouldn't do. But that's pretty much the opposite of our intent, and so we sign, with some natural trepidation, a new contract with Nature.

Before we get to the new stuff though, there is transition work to be done. Enter our neighbor Joe, an avid hunting and fishing guide, and gardener extraordinaire. Joe will be taking the reins of year two in our front-yard garden here in Spokane, and I wish him all the best. Late-summer I should receive a package from Joe containing half of the garlic and shallots that I set last fall. A dozen varieties of garlic, from Music to Asian Tempest to Early Portuguese, and two Dutch shallot varieties, yellow and red, will arrive to invigorate the palette in the middle of the steamy, oppressive heat of my daughter's first Georgia summer. Joe has a good idea about what's in store for Americans over the next decade, and is rapidly building a local food community around himself in this Depression-era inner suburb just north of downtown.
All of my vegetative friends are packed and ready to roll. Probably wondering what's taking so long! We've got several blueberries, red, black, and purple raspberries, an apricot, a nectarine, and all kinds of herbs. The beginnings of a fine garden! Let's do it!
Twenty boxes of books - good leather-bound books, college textbooks, permaculture books - and artifacts - fossils, pottery, sculpture - packed and ready to relocate to the 'hood.
Almost forgot my crop of Jerusalem artichokes! What a prolific perennial vegetable! Taste pretty good too. Since they don't keep very well once harvested, I'm dividing this crop up between several friends, leaving plenty for us to eat and replant of course. "Sunchokes" are a good source of inulin, which recent research has discovered can significantly increase the body's ability to absorb calcium, making sunchokes a hot new "nutraceutical" food. (Not that that's the appeal to me necessarily.) They are also one of those crops that no one would ever know was there...
And now a brief introduction to the cast of characters:
The munchkin, Ella, enjoying some roasted pumpkin for lunch. She'll be two in May, just before her little brother arrives this summer.
My beloved wife, and fellow permaculteur, Jessica.
Yours truly, Tripp.
See you next time…


  1. I am a Christian child of the WWII era. I believe in the power & simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Retired from highway, aviation & rail employment. Researching Peaking Oil from 1990's, circa 911Day got more serious. As reader of the Bible, see interesting Chapter & Verse: Daniel 4 V 15. Transportation practitioner of American heritage, I see USA railway in v:15, last threads holding nation together in time of trial?

    It is important to consider Societal & Commercial Cohesion as volume of imported oil slows and trucking is restricted. Regardless of delays & excuses, laws of physics suggest railway rehab in America's Oil Interregnum solution set. That is inescapable. See modest papers in peakoil.net articles 374 & 1037. Also, see tahoevalleylines on web.

    Download "GCOR" for info on the railroad rules & protocols. See "ELECTRIC WATER" by Christopher C. Swan (New Society Press 2007) for compendium of sustainable energy generation & local mobility tech. You will see railway rebuild mentioned by Jim Kunstler and Richard Heinberg.

    Please show "ELECTRIC WATER" on your homepage after you read it. And, show spv.co.uk for access to US Rail Map Atlas volumes, for the entire US. These map atlas books are helpful to show extant and dormant US railway corridor. Regardless of obstacles physical & political, familiarization of one's nearby rail corridor will be useful with the passing of time, as trucking falters. People hoarding wealth will at some point in time see better value in railway links within walking distance. "Diversification": locally owned and renewable powered infrastructure that can haul passengers & freight...

    I mentioned reformed US Army/Guard railroad Operating & Maintenance Battalions. This is best means of prioritizing rr branchlines for rehab. Victuals & necessities of life, manufacturing facilities enroute will determine order of rr branch return to service. Agricultural traffic is single best determinant for rr branch rebuild, in the final analysis.

    Military units depart to next line as private operators take charge. It is useful to have military health clinics along with these construction battalions, to help locals, and train civilian first-response personnel.

    permaculture is crucial; I submit medical capability and the railway network link must be in the discussion as well. Railways are defined in the July 10, 1838 US Congress Act as "Post Roads': old time descriptor of priority lines of Transportation & Communication- -strategic and kept under protection by deadly force when necessary.

    Hope this is not off-putting, just want people to remember this transition era is not "Camelot". There are no Castle Keeps to take refuge in after dark. Transport network well policed is benefit for settlements along corridors. Local militias are organized around lines of transport.

    Period of brigands will probably have to be endured, but as expedited railway rebuild program is undertaken, dual positives of employment and establishment of new rules of commerce will prevail over gang elements. They will have to work for their food & shelter eventually.

    Trucking families will become new generation of railroaders. Large facilities like Home Depot, WalMart, Sears, UPS & USPO, empty factories & ex military bases, etc. become victuals centers and will link to the railway net ASAP. As beginning, see website "Suntrain Transportation Corporation" for insights on renewable energy era railway SYSTEMS. Jim Kunstler & Richard Heinberg are proponents of the ancillary benefits of the railway rebuild, keenly aware of the way such enterprises bring a new generation to ability to build & fix things.

    Use what you can as you establish contacts &position in the new paradigm.

  2. TVL, thanks for the post. I'm a fan of both Jim Kunstler and Richard Heinberg, and a champion for the return of the railroad for sure! You break things down from a more militaristic, top-down, supply chain point of view than I tend to, but you offer some new facets of the situation to think on no doubt.

    I hope no one decides that a rail spur to Lowes needs to be laid through my garden!

  3. Hi, Tripp, Jess and Ella! Good to see some recent pictures of you guys. Counting the days. Love you lots, Nana

  4. Good luck, Tripp.

    Moving sucks, but then you have a new house!

    Yesterday I planted 2 grapevines and a blueberry bush.

  5. Hey Tripp,
    Nice site. Safe travels and good luck in your new home. I grew up gardening in Athens GA but now live in VT for the past 23 years and have organically gardened everyone of them. Watered my peas, radishes and greens this AM while having a cup of coffee. Will follow your blog and share what I can.


  6. Wage, new plantings sound sweet. Can't wait to get my blues back in the ground, and grapes will be on the fences ASAP, (once I build the fences that is), as will hardy and fuzzy kiwis, hops, wisteria (nitrogen fixer!), and some perennial climbing veggies. The new place is a hell-hole, but it's paid for, and also a blank slate, ready to conform to the realities of a new world.

    Nathan, I grew up in Athens! My folks went to school at UGA, and I have good memories of the place. I sure wish I was already in the garden with a cup of joe (or tea more likely), but soon. Patience, old boy. I actually watered some of the early crops my neighbor Joe planted just to spend a bit of time out there and away from packing. Didn't feel quite the same. But my garlic is going off! They're already 5 inches high probably! Vermont must provide its own challenges for the gardener, eh? Beautiful though I hear. Please do stop by as often as you can and add your wisdom to the discussion. We're heading into some uncharted territory here, and will need lots of gray matter on the case.

    You too, Wage. See you guys!

  7. Tripp, Too funny. I left Athens in 1981 at the height of the rock and roll thing, many fond memories myself. I was actually in our greenhouse (which is in the garden). 2 feet of snow still on the ground covering my garlic, although it will show up quickly after the snow melts in a month or so

  8. I left Athens in 1981 too! (Although I was only 8 years old...) Don't remember as much about REM and the B-52s as I'd like.

  9. Best of luck from this old permaculturist right across the way from you in south central AL on ten acres. I'll be watching for updates! blessings, deb-61

  10. bamboochik, when are we coming to check out your site?

  11. yay! i will link up with you. SO glad you are doing a blog on this big adventure. while ya'll were living it up in Athens grooving to REM and the B's i was sucking on the ghost of the allman brothers in macon georgia. you'll find a way to make macon great for you, tripp, of that i have no doubt. looking forward to meeting you and your family.

  12. Anybody here want to check out what a really cool Georgia chick is up to check out Chickory's blog. She's been doing this for a while and it shows!

  13. Tripp, We have stumbled onto a parallel universe, usually leads to grand consequences.

    Chickory, Hang on a minute I grooved on Dwayne's live slide guitar before the peach truck incident and hung out with Gregg and Dickie Betts at the Boiler Room in Bradenton, FL. Your place is truly wonderful I have to agree with Tripp. I do not have such a site but a photographer friend of mine does and it has photos of our farm on it. It is VictorSalvo.com and the photos are RedHawk in springtime. The pretty girl is the love of my life.

  14. Nathan,dont get me wrong! im saying i got there too late to see Dwayne in the flesh, did get to meet dickey betts years later through Phil Walden (now deceased) president of capricorn records who became a friend. while i was in school at Mercer, Gregg was married to Cher and they lived in the big white house thats next to mercer law school. we'd see them sometimes in the middle of the night at (w)affle house (read: awful house)

    thanks for the kind words on my place. i am really struggling to take care of it as i moved to a cash economy last year. i am learning a lot about making do and doing without. hoping to get some make do tips from Tripp ;-)

  15. Chickory, I'll work on those make-do tips as soon as I get this cross-country move under my belt! One week to departure; starting to feel the pressure a little :O

    Beautiful, Nathan! What am I seeing? Peas obviously, chicory?, phlox?, cardoon?, rat snake? (pretty feller). Lovely wife, and fat cat! Quite a spread, my man. Your heart is in this I can tell.

  16. thanks Tripp, the trippy photos are peas. We call the snake a milk snake. I bought the place in 1987 for $62K and drove there with my former home, a 1969 VW Van. In our climate zone we go for heat, the greenhouse photos show it off. GA is all about cool you will become an expert at shade cloth and air circulation.

  17. Insulation, ventilation, and shade are the keys for sure! Now if I could just lift our new house up on pilings...

  18. Chicory, My heart goes out to you in these hard times. You and your art and home are all about the love and beauty of woman, keep it up the world is starving for you.

  19. My dad just informed me that he has 3 Pekin ducklings for Ella when we come through Iowa next weekend. New system elements for my permaculture plot! I'm thinking about small livestock tubs, under young fruit trees, full of water. They can swim and poop in the tubs, and I can just dump out irrigation and fertilizer onto the mulch whenever the ducks need some fresh water.

    Down the road our ducks will have a small pond at the graywater terminus with a coop built over the water. With lots of aquatic perennial vegetable crops naturalizing in the pond of course.

  20. nathan, very beautiful at redhawk. but is that europe? the slideshow said it was. did you jump ship?

    tripp: peking ducks are great looking. and, im pretty sure youll have plenty of fertilizer. LOL

  21. Chickory, It is Vermont, between Woodstock and Killington. I did leave the country when Reagan got elected, moved to New Zealand, island fever drove me back.I have deep concerns about the US and the prevalence of violent intolerance and the dogmatic dismissal of science and the scientific method (i.e. logic). Mostly I just want to practice my art and sports and fall ever more in love with my family and friends, follow my curiosity, serve my brothers and sisters. I don't really understand all the anger and intolerance and indifference in our culture, we have everything we need and more but so many are hopping mad and think they got screwed or are getting screwed.

  22. Like 95% of the folks over at CFN. They don't see the immense opportunity in our current situation. They're right, there aren't any jobs, not in the old economy anyway, but there are millions just waiting to be created in a local economy. Pay won't be the same obviously, but those pay rates are spoiling our bed, so not a big loss in my mind. I've seen money harden hearts, and create the intolerance you speak of, Nathan. Not just "the love of money" either, but money itself.

    I've got a future post taking shape in my head about money, energy, and the inherent exploitation of people and Nature involved in economic transactions of ANY type.

  23. Oh yeah, I meant to mention that the kiwis are the lords of viable commercial permaculture! That must have been quite the experience, even witnessed subconsciously. They run sheep mob-grazing agroforestry systems that are just spectacular! And export unparalleled lamb and timber.

  24. Yeah one forest alone was 13% of the NZ GDP, I think most of it went to Japan to make boxes to ship stuff to USA (not a joke). 20 million sheep 3 million people.

  25. tripp, check your gmail email. my numbers are there. you know, your grandfather lives on the edge of the largest broadleaf deciduous forest chain left on earth.

    nathan, i love what you wrote. ive been trying to explain what i am doing living apart from my husband so i can build my chickory homestead up. like tripp wrote on CFN, im not punching the labor bar for kibble one more time. no more of my life paying tributes to feudal overlords. i am done. i barely have the money to make it from day to day...but once the farmers markets fire back up this summer...ill be okay. i envy you and tripp that your families are on board. im happy for you!

  26. Chickory,
    Well girl I fell in love with you as I looked at your site, now I just want to hug you and cheer you on. It is so much more comfortable to forge ahead with a committed mate. Jill is my third wife and we have spent 15 years improving our love and ability to enjoy each other. You obviously have the resolve and the talent to do whatever you set your mind to. The more you do it the more irresistible you become, to your husband or to.......

  27. Hey Tripp, You on the move or what??
    Just putting the final touches on a solar array with batteries and grid tie to install this summer and Hale Hollow Farm is carbon neutral.

  28. Hey Chicory,
    On the economic front, are you growing year round down there yet? If not lets chat. Restaurants need your produce year round when the farmers market demand cools.

  29. Hey guys, yeah, we're on the move. Low on communication time with no home computer access. Finally made it to the library to place a nursery order and thought I'd stop by smallbatch. Got lots of herbs planted today after some fairly serious mattock work (hot in Macon!) Sunburned, tired, both away from Ella for the first time ever, but the garden is fenced, electricity came on today, walls are moving inside, and I just ordered olive trees, grapes, a mulberry, and some 50' timber bamboo. My world seems right tonight.

    Nathan, congrats on the solar array! That must feel great. I'm jealous.

    Ande, so good to finally meet you at the market the other day. Thanks for the gifts too; they are getting used for sure! See you this weekend?

    I have a stack of blog posts in my head, starting with how shitty the interstates are in "fly-over" land, and some pics of me herding my chickens down the street to their new home. I'll get on it soon as I can break away.


  30. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

  31. Sounds like you are making lots of progress! I'm impressed. Keep us posted. We love you! Mae

  32. How I stumbled across this is beyond me..was on google searching for organic something or other, and here you are. Wow. WOW!!!
    How times change. !! !!Congratulations.... Kealie

  33. Thanks, Kealie! How the hell are you? How unlikely indeed that you would stumble across my tiny little backwater of the blogosphere! (My exceptionally unupdated little backwater of the blogoshpere!) Busy, busy, but I will post again soon. Still getting some basic systems squared away at the house and then I think I can find some time to write again!

    Now if I can just get everyone to come back and hang out with me after such a long hiatus...

  34. You posted your comment on my daughter's 2nd birthday by the way! Spooky.

  35. Well..well well...spooky. Maybe. :) I am fantastic! Finally settled down and got married last year, and we are expecting a baby girl (my first baby!!) in early October. I am in Portland, where I've settled, and am in love with..and have been here since leaving the 'Can (for the 3rd time) 6 years ago. I have to say this: being 7 mos preggo myself, your wife is a super trooper, and must have an amazing sense of adventure and dedication, because if you were to come to me, telling me that you were moving me to a house with no plumbing, kitchen, wiring, or A/C ect TO GEORGIA in the summer....while pregnant.... there probably would have been small appliances being hurled at your head. :) For god sake, get that woman something super special. She's earned it.

  36. Kealz, congrats on the marriage and the upcoming new addition! Very cool. We love being parents. Ella is a wonderful little girl, and Oliver is shaping up to be quite the fine little man himself (from what I can tell at 5 weeks of age!) Jess and I have been married for 8 1/2 years now, I finished college at University of Florida summer of '04, worked for the state of Florida as a regulatory scientist for a few years, then got laid off when the recession hit (no development, no need for env. impact reviewers), then had a HUGE mental shift about the world, and here we are today.

    We have some AC now, lots of ceiling fans, a great kitchen, plumbing, wiring, gardens, chicken tractors, a city goat, all that stuff, (quite the fix-it man these days, eh?), but we are seriously contemplating moving to the mountains north of here to get away from the hot sweaty armpit of Georgia. We want to do things even simpler up there - this time no AC for real, very minimal electricity, outdoor kitchen, extensive gardens and orchards, chickens, turkeys, goats, a cow, a horse, rabbits, honeybees...times, they have a'changed indeed.

    Jess is a super trooper for sure! Glad I found her in Spokane before I dipped out for the 3rd time! What is it about that place??

    I've started writing in my journal again finally, so blogging must be coming soon. Portland does rock, doesn't it?! Glad you're happy. Take care of that little girl, and hang out here when you can. If for no other reason than to shake your head from time to time;) The next chapter should be pretty interesting...