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Design process continues for Huss property

Huss plan (draft)

Here is a draft of our new site plan for Huss (read below the image for more information):

Huss plan (draft)

When we first purchased the Huss School property in Three Rivers, we had a lot of ideas, but no specific plan. That was intentional. We knew that if we were going to help create something that contributes to our neighborhood, we’d need to spend a lot of time listening and experimenting before making big decisions.

In fact, taking adequate time to observe and interact is the first principle of permaculture design, a discipline that I and others in our constellation have been studying for several years. The idea is that the process of observing and interacting (before reacting) will teach us how to work with the flows of nature and the human community, rather than against them, leading to wise decisions with long-term benefits.

2010 was the year that we began work at what we’ve come to call the Huss Project. We connected a couple of people in the community who were independently thinking about starting a community garden and Triple Ripple Community Gardens was born, as a collaborative, volunteer effort to grow food for our community and teach the skills for growing food.

Over time, we adapted the garden model to serve the partner outlets available in our community for fresh food and to support the sustainability of the project through produce sales. What this means is that Triple Ripple Community Gardens has evolved into the Huss Project Farm, with multiple distribution points for families in need and a weekly booth at the Three Rivers Farmers Market where we feature our own produce alongside that of partner farms.

This past year, we experimented with a multi-site model for the farm, with a new second plot at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. We’re still evaluating whether this is a direction we want to follow. But we’re also putting some more thought into how we can move from the somewhat haphazard land design we currently have at the Huss Project to one that more intentionally reflects our current needs and long-term goals.

Getting away for a week of rest from our work, including the Huss Project, found us with the brain space, finally, to reflect on this bigger picture, and dabbling in a permaculture design book opened the floodgates of imagination, leading to a first draft of a plan for the Huss Project property. Evaluating this initial plan with our core community at our annual fall retreat yielded some good feedback, both enthusiastic support and critical questions, which will help us on the way to a second draft. But we’re hoping that this fall and next spring and summer, we’ll be able to make some major strides toward implementing this plan and continuing to grow thousands of pounds of fresh food with and for our community.

Keeping in mind that this design is just a first draft, what do you think? Share your feedback via the comments or send us an e-mail. We’d love to hear from you, including whether you’d be interested in helping out in some way.

Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Kirstin is a member of the *culture is not optional core community and is the Head Caretaker at GilChrist Retreat Center.