Climbing the curve of Permaculture

I have several interesting and sometimes tiresome dialogues going on in my head about growing food. As I’m weeding bed after bed of vegetables sometimes in the hot sun questions roll through my mind like: “Is this really having any significant impact on the state of the world?”,  “Should I just leave organic vegetable growing to those that are actually really good at it?”, or “Is any form of annual based agriculture a net contribution to the eco-system with all its tilling, inputs, and deer fencing?”  Those questions can certainly take the wind out of my sail particularly on a hot day and when my back starts to ache bedding over the onion bed.  Yet I do want to attempt to answer those questions, I want to feel even more connected to the why of vegetable growing.  So I thought I would share my musings and my struggles with you so as to not feel as alone in the matter because I know I’m not alone.


My dear friend and land mate Rosie helping me hoe the potato bed.

The questions I have pinballing around in my mind around seem to have their root in a deep intention of mine to do no harm and to be have a positive impact on my environment. That’s my intention and then there’s reality.  As mentioned above there’s several practices that are less than ideal in terms of truly doing no harm whether that harm is in the form of disturbing elk migration patterns or disturbing soil ecology through big tractors till blending up the earth.  People seem to have a lot of hope around organic agriculture and I do as well and yet I feel move to point out that there’s quite a ways to go on the learning curve (especially for me personally) to get the point that human food growing actually has a net positive impact on the ecology.  The hope for me lies in all the various incredible people I know or read about that are plugging away and steadily moving along that curve on differing fronts.  And with the world as it is the opportunities for cross fertilization and collaboration are immense.

I’ve been really feeling these days how much we need each other if to do the learning and work it takes to move beyond a high impact agriculture into a permaculture.  Growing our own vegetables is a start, planting a food forest hedgrerow is one too but its just a start.  I am grateful to be supported in the ways that I am on this challenging journey towards living in harmony with the land.

So maybe I should relish the fact that there’s still so much journeying to experience, eat some strawberries and just keep learning.

Thanks for reading,



My wife Eden (7 months pregnant) helping weed the community garden

Easter at Full Bloom

My wife Eden loves Easter.  I’ve never been a huge fan.  It conjures up to mind pastel colors, bad candy, and disturbing Easter bunnies trying to ride on the coat tails of Santa but failing miserably.   Coupled with a lot of commercialization and a general lack of “spiritedness”  or reverence for the sacred.   After sweet little Easter egg hunt on Sunday things are shifting around a bit in my world.  First off the egg dying was a great excuse to get together and make some fun art together.  We used these natural dyes that our friend Leah makes (check her out at ) and made all sorts of truly gorgeous eggs. Disentangling all my less than favorable notions of Easter I found myself engaged in a process of turning this blank, yet profoundly shaped object, a chicken egg, into a piece of art.

Easter Morning after we had another epic waffle and whip cream community brunch, Eden and I went into the community garden and started to delicately and somewhat mischievously place these egg shaped art pieces in the shade of rocks, on top of sprinkler heads and in the coil of the garden hose.   Then the kids were unleashed and that was the biggest joy: to see them totally transfixed, carrying their baskets and joyously grabbing eggs from here and there.  In that moment I realized how simple and a profound of a ceremony we had created.  I didn’t think of it as such initially, but that’s truly what it is.  Its a sequence of events, of movements that bring the community of humans in closer contact with the mystery and the beauty of this life.   The realization also hit me that ceremonies can be fun and a chance to bring more art and a magic into our lives.


Our community member Sky with her basket of eggs


Kids from the neighborhood on the hunt in the community garden



Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance.

Gardening as a Spiritual Practice

Every spring I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt, preparing the garden beds for another season of growth: the rich array of colorful flowers, the crisp sugar snap peas, the deep greens of kale and chard.  I can see them all now in my minds eye even though the garden is mostly bare except for the few perenial herbs and flowers.   Now in my 7th year of heading up the community garden I see how every year is so unique and yet holds so many constants.

The Full Bloom Community Greenhouse

The garden reflects my own growth; this year I am particularly noticing a greater sense of thoroughness and patience.  For instance I’m really making sure that every little plant start in the greenhouse has just the right amount of water and I’m looking closely at their growth every day, noticing any sign to insect damage or nutrient deficiency.  The thing about gardening is that you’re working with living breathing life forms and ultimately its way beyond your control.  Ultimately its a relationship, a relationship that deepens over time endlessly.  I will always be learning more about the plants, the soil, the elements that compose this magical nexus of relationship called “garden”.

When I first began gardening and farming here I was mostly focused on how to grow food for the sake of offsetting my environmental impact and supporting the sustainable/ecological agriculture movement.  Recently I’ve sunken into a richer experience of being in the garden that includes more intangibilities like developing a greater sense of curiosity, feeling a deeper sense of place, and stepping for fully into the unfathomable diversity and beauty of life.   Gardening has become one of my strongest spiritual practices for it offers an opportunity to discover the truth of my connection to life, to dispel a sense of separation and for my egoic tendencies of control and manipulation to be reflected and exposed as not serving me or the garden.   To me “spiritual practice” is the art of becoming more fully present to life and a garden is just one big invitation to do just that.   Thanks for reading and please share your own reflections and thoughts on the matter.   Till next time…….Ryan


The Greenhouse Advantage

At Full Bloom we a have a pretty extreme climate leading to a relatively short growing season.  We’ve been know to have a frost as late as Early June and as early as early October leading barely a 4 month frost free growing window.  But that’s outside.  The Greenhouse changes everything; it gives us another two months on either side.   For several years now we’ve been able to get a major head start on our  tomatoes in the raised bed in the greenhouse planting them in April and still harvesting tomatoes in December.

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Every year I do dance with the greenhouse to get in our winter salad greens sown just after the hot weather crops like peppers, and eggplants begin to slow down in early October.  Its taken years to get that timing down ( and develop the nerve to pull that pepper plant that may have one or two peppers still to ripen) and this year I was very proud of myself for clearing the bed space and sewing tons of arugula and salad mix for our enjoyment during the winter (note: outdoor greens can end up getting pretty much killed during the winters here. Especially when it gets down to 6 degrees like it did this past December.)

Given the extreme productivity and season extension power of a greenhouse I’ve been pondering lately how we can add another to the land here and/or build a “field house” for the agricultural fields outside of the central area.  These can be put up for minimal cost and can really increase production and protect crops of frost damage.


An example of a “field house”. A no frills green house that one can even drive a tractor through for cultivation.

Well that’s it for now.  Off to the greenhouse, cause its basically already spring down there and its time to prep the soil and start sowing some spinach and lettuce.

Till next time……Ryan

Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too.”  William Cowper

The Great Potato Harvest……

There’s something undeniably satisfying about getting on your hands and knees and digging in the earth in search of large tubers that will later become rosemary home fries, creamy mashed potatoes, and other comforting fall and winter foods.  Over the weekend we harvested the Full Bloom potato crop which amounted to over 800lbs of potatoes and it didn’t really feel like work, it felt like a treasure hunt in the dirt.



Several Full Bloomers on the hunt for taters.



Mica (a current resident) and myself showing off some of the harvest

As Fall transitions to winter it becomes essential to store properly all the abundance from the growing season so that it can be consumed through the winter and on into the spring.  With proper storage there can be a continued sense of connection to the land as the prime source of one’s life rather than the supermarket.   That’s not to say there isn’t still a lot of food being brought to Full Bloom from off-site, it’s to emphasize the importance of cultivating a deep sense of place.  As we open this place to more and more visitors in the years to come, I hope that sense of place can be enjoyed by all who come.

“It is easy to think of potatoes, and fortunately for men who have not much money it is easy to think of them with a certain safety. Potatoes are one of the last things to disappear, in times of war, which is probably why they should not be forgotten in times of peace.” 
― M.F.K. FisherHow to Cook a Wolf

Our First Permaculture Design Course at Full Bloom

We recently facilitated a permaculture design course on the land through the Siskiyou Permaculture Insititute (  Some of you may not have heard of the term so let’s look at wikipedia’s definition:

Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It determines where these elements should be placed so they can provide maximum benefit to the local environment. The central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy.


Tom Ward on a site walk at Full Bloom with design course students.


Class time in the Full Bloom farmhouse with co-teacher Karen and Tom Ward on the Right

The course was geared for experienced permaculturalists and focused primarily on doing design work for Full Bloom (rather than going over general permaculture principles).  It was taught primarily by Tom Ward who has been designing farms and properties in Southern Oregon for several decades now and is an absolute treasure trove of information and lore of the area.

It was a joy to participate in the course and take in so many differing perspectives of the land here, as well as to recieve some really creative design possibilities such as changing the way people drive onto the land so that we don’t have a road through the central area.  It was also very humbling to recognize how little I really know about all the natural systems that surround me here (geological, hydrological, wind, etc.).

I am excited to continue to hold courses so that we all can be come more literate about how we as humans affect our local environment, and how we can make that affect a positive and regenerative one.

“From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.”
― Tony HillermanCoyote Waits




Food at Full Bloom

Food is such as a wonderful way to a bring people together.  Its that time of the year where the abundance of our gardens and the local farms is erupting into the kitchen in the from of a amazingly diverse, colorful, and fresh meals.  After our community work day this past Saturday myself and my landmate Miceala prepared a huge salad with lettuce, fennel, carrots, beats, calendula flowers, and armenian cucumbers all freshly picked from our gardens here.


Me and Micaela posing for a pic in the Full Bloom Commercial Kitchen before lunch on Saturday.


We also put together a cast iron frittata with 2 dozen local eggs from pastured hens, fresh basil, and a little bacon from the ranch down the road.  There’s something deeply satisfying about knowing where one’s food is coming from.  Its such an intimate experience, taking in food into our bodies and its a beautiful thing when we have the good fortune of that food being grown and prepared with love.

“Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.”
Craig Claiborne



Community Work Day: Preparing the Ground of Health

The expression: “many hands make light work” felt very real during our May Community Work Day at Full Bloom.  I love the experience being together in the garden on these beautiful spring days on the Farm.  There is a bubbling quality to the environment, to the garden that finds its way into our relationships, into our interactions. “Working” in the garden as a community or a family is something so a part of what it means to be human and it has become very rare in modern society, to the detriment of our ecology both inner and outer.  At Full Bloom we are becoming aware of how medicinal it is for our spirits to spend time together outside in the garden, in the forest.  So simple, and practically free.


As we open Full Bloom to others for healing for inspiration and for learning it becomes increasingly important to not lose track of these simple activities that form the ground of our health as a community.

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” ~Author Unknown


Full Bloom got Sheep!

We recently welcomed in some new members to the Full Bloom Community:  8 wonderful sheep.  These sweet animals will be moving through the central area mowing the abundant grass that grows abundantly on the land.  Through just doing what they were born to do (graze) they will be saving us many hours of mowing and weekwacking.


Full Bloom Sheep on the front lawn of the Farmhouse

There is some sweet joy, some sense of being connected to all the countless generations of farmers who have “sheparded”.  We will be growing our flock over the years as we learn how to best take care of the animals and to integrate them into the landscape.  My goal is to eventually limit mechanical mowing to a bare minimum as it reduces our fossil fuel use and is better for the land to be grazed.

All I know is its more pleasant to hear “Baaaaaa” then the sound of a 2 stroke engine.


“Agriculture must mediate between nature and the human community, with ties and obligations in both directions. To farm well requires an elaborate courtesy toward all creatures, animate and inanimate.”  Wendell Berry


Full Bloom is a Bloomin’

Wow what an amazing 2 weeks!

With the weather reaching near 80 degrees every day for the last week, the farm is bustling with activity.   With this kind of heat water becomes essential to keep all the hundreds of plants, shrubs and trees thriving here at Full Bloom.  So the first step of the
“irrigation season” is to put in a large pipe into Yale Creek (the creek that bifurcates our property and is the source of our irrigation water and summer rejuvenation!).


Two “Full Bloomers” putting the Ditch pipe into the beautiful Yale Creek.

The water travels in an irrigation ditch for nearly a mile before it reaches our pond, from which we water over 20 acres of pasture, vegetables and fruit trees.


Our Pond with “Duthchmen’s Peak” in the Background

Related so directly with the source of our water, the source of our nourishment takes quite a bit of work and running around, but in the end its a supreme joy.  Till next time….Ryan



Full Bloom Resident John Hutton with his freshly harvested salad mix


“Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.”  ~Slovakian Proverb