In the summer of 2014, Surplus team member Brecht installed a wind / solar system in Western Massachussetts. This system serves both as an energy source and as a back up for Richard and his family.
Christian Shearer and Brecht Deriemaeker of the Surplus Team attended the Terra Genesis Professional Development Retreat in Caimito, Ecuador from the 14th untill the 18th of December. Terra Genesis International is an international regenerative enterprise that works with corporations, non-profits and social enterprises to re-imagine, re-design and regenerate their relationship to the earth. It aims at developping
The goal of the retreat was to share experiences with tropical Permaculture systems, investigate partnership and discuss personal growth and development models, frameworks and possibilities. People present were:
A group full of inspiring people with lots of plans to change the world! The retreat was fueled by our individual and collective genius and ran according to an agile open space design.
As 2014 ends, we reach our one-year anniversary of launching the Win/Win Reactor. It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago that we stepped inside our home for the very first time… three-full dizzying stories of stuff, we couldn’t even see the floor. Did we know what we were getting ourselves into? Not really. But that’s the way we liked it, fortunately. We never planned on becoming spelunkers, glacier-boss slayers, archivalists, suspension animators… we never could have imagined all the house-heirlooms, all the random challenges which find us daily. And bless our eager hearts, we wanted to accomplish everything ourselves (with our friends of course, without whom we could not have flourished!).
Somehow, as January approaches, we now find survivability within our house, and with it a modicum of comfort. Without connection to city services (no water, no gas, no electricity, no sewer), we really are off-grid. And all in less than a year. I look around and can barely believe it. Now that we have a home-base, with these simple-yet-profound amenities, our second year will truly see progress.
"And it is here where my awareness settles: letting progress blossom as it does… not to overlook the daily miracles that shower a life self-led." Gregory Crawford, co-founder Surplus Permaculture Design and founder of Win/Win Reactor
more info: winwinreactor.wordpress.com
Check out this great article about Fresh Future Farm in the Post and Courier. Fresh Future Farm and Surplus Permaculture have been working together to develop the urban farm, with Nick Tittle acting as FFF's Permaculture Farm Manager.
"Malabar spinach. It's delicious," said Germaine Jenkins, pausing on her walk through the Chicora Place Community Garden to snap a small green leaf off its vine and take a bite.
The North Charleston garden turned 3 years old this month, and Jenkins is proud of its success as a neighborhood project. But her sights are now set on her latest vision, Fresh Future Farm, which could be taking shape a few blocks north of the garden by this winter.
The idea is simple. Jenkins, a certified master gardener, wants to establish a nonprofit urban farm on 0.75 acres of the grounds of the former Chicora Elementary School on Success Street. It would be more than just a place to grow and buy fruits and vegetables: It would be an entire community food operation, with an on-site store to sell produce, toiletries and other groceries. School groups and residents could come to tour the facilities or take classes on farming, cooking and the food industry, and underemployed people in the area could be trained on the skills they'd need to work on the farm or start their own.
The North Charleston Finance Committee approved the use of the Success Street site for the project in June, a month after Germaine won the South Carolina Community Loan Fund's Feeding Innovation Challenge and the $25,000 in seed money that came with it.In these ways, Jenkins hopes the enterprise could be much more than a farm. It would be a much-need oasis in one of the Lowcountry's numerous food deserts – areas with a lack of grocery stores and large number of residents without cars.
"I saw in several really good examples in Detroit and other places how they were using urban agriculture as a way to revitalize neighborhoods," Jenkins said. "Taking what was discarded materials to create profits in an urban environment is something we need because not only is this a food desert, but it's an employment desert, it's a place desert."
Those labels go hand-in-hand. Low-income areas struggle to attract and keep grocery stores, who don't perceive the customer bases as profitable markets. Residents must then choose to drive miles to the nearest supermarket or spend their money at convenience stores, where options – especially healthy options – are limited. What's made it a challenge in our community is that because there are no fresh fruits and vegetables in the 5-mile radius where we are, it becomes a question of people's ability to drive that distance, and many of the people don't have cars," said Barbara Kingsbury, director of resource development for Metanoia, the community development organization that funds the Chicora Place Community Garden. "Their trip to the grocery store involves either a cab, which adds to the cost, or public transportation, which turns a routine trip to the store into a three- or four-hour ordeal."
A nearby corner, at Rivers and McMillan avenues, has been struggling to fill a vacant supermarket spot for around a decade, she said.
When fresh produce is this difficult to get, getting people to change their attitudes toward fruits and vegetables is a big hurdles in efforts like urban farming, said David Hughes, state Economic and Community Development program team leader with Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Local foods and community gardens are part of the solution to that, but they're just part of it," he said. "They've got to make changes in lifestyle – people taking control of their own cooking, really.
There are many vacant lots in North Charleston and Charleston, Jenkins pointed out, and she hopes Fresh Future Farm is the first of many to use them agriculturally.
To close the loop, I'd love to be able to then buy products from some of those other farmers in the neighborhood, that we can then turn around and sell through our store," she said. "So, we earn a dollar, and that dollar stays in the neighborhood. That's what we're trying to do."
Surplus Permaculture is very excited to announce our involvement with two Permaculture Design Courses in South Caolina during 2015. These workshops will be the FIRST EVER certificate level workshops in the state!
February 14,15 – April 11,12
March 21-22, May 30-31
Both of these courses are structured on alternating weekends to allow full time workers, students, and people with families to attend.