Category Archives: ecological inspiration

Spring unfurls like a fern!

The unfurling of ferns is a good metaphor for Elemental Design/Build this spring, as we spiral out into our first round of workshops and events in Ashland. The unfurling of ferns can also be good eating, and we’re currently investigating their viability as a greywater-fed backyard crop.

These are actually non edible fiddleheads from a Cyatheales tree fern I saw unfurling down in Los Angeles, where spring is a little ahead of us here in Jefferson State.

These are actually non edible fiddleheads from a Cyatheales tree fern I saw unfurling down in Los Angeles, where spring is a little ahead of us here in Jefferson State.

I’m finalizing dates now for Ashland events, including an evening greywater talk (March 30th) as well as our first hands on workshop on greywater systems (May 3rd-5th). I’ve also scheduled presentations at Ashland Green Drinks (April 29th) and PechaKucha Night Ashland (March 24th), an awesome and inspiring event sponsored by Elemental Design/Build and Standing Stone Brewing Co.

When I lived in Vermont, fiddleheads were a favorite spring vegetable, wildcrafted by chefs and the general public alike. They’re not commonly eaten here in southern Oregon, presumably because our arid climate makes them less readily available and there are questions about edibility of native species. Redirecting greywater can introduce a constant source of nutrient-rich water to our landscapes, creating wet microclimates that can support ferns and other edibles right out our back doors.

Ostrich, lady, shield, and bracken ferns are recommended by Sam Thayer at Forager’s Harvest, though bracken ferns require cooking for edibility. These varieties range in size, flavor, and light requirements, but can be dependable understory elements in your personal food forest. I’ll be trying a few of these species experimentally as edible accents in my shady greywater garden this spring. Come to one of our events this spring to learn more!




Trimming the doors, making the website

Image of sliding door with freshly milled and stained cedar trim boards.

Trimming out the pocket doors with naturally-finished cedar.

It’s not exactly chopping wood and carrying water, but today I am running back and forth between quick bursts of website creation and trimming out some doorways in my house. One lovely minute I’m working the level and tracing the contours of cedar grain with my fingers, the next I am learning how to make the little Facebook button magically appear on the homepage. In both cases, I am creating something out of nothing, I am summoning an internal vision and making it public.

Birthing Elemental Design/Build has been a major life event, and now that I’m pulling the website together, it’s like we’re heading to the hospital (or calling the midwife!) and making preparations for the new being we’re guiding into the world. There is no feeling like bringing life to a dream!

We all know we should be the change we want to see, but what a journey to honestly define that on a personal level, and then actually learn how to do it! And so the start of Elemental D/B is the culmination of one quest – honing in on what I want to do with my one precious life – but just the spare beginnings of another. Up next, breathing life into the lungs of this new dream and making it real.  The creative process continues…