Hello again fellow Treehuggers, It has been an eventful while since we have last spoken. Classes are finally in full swing for the Fall ’14 Semester at Berg and we have new Treehouse members that will be sharing their thoughts with you over the upcoming weeks. My beloved roommate Christian and I have returned to the double room that overlooks the garden, Rebecca Herz, a sophomore and the President of the Community Garden Club has picked up the middle single and our very own virtuoso Lily Freiburg has returned from two years prior to the front room of the house.
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to live in the Garden House and watch over the Permaculture Garden and the new construction that was completed. Dr. Neisenbaum’s Sustainability course, which I am currently in, had proposed a rain water capture system to be installed over summer. After an eventful couple months of construction the corner of the Permaculture Garden now has an entirely new back deck and a fully functioning rainwater capture system (Pictures to come). My major summer project was the restructuring of the herb spiral and the outlining of the four entry points of what will hopefully develop into a mandala garden.
On the Community Garden side of things, Over the summer our house hosted a visit of over 40+ inner city children from the Boys&Girls Club who were fearless in trying every type of plant in the Garden. I snapped a couple photos of and with them that I will leave you with today. (Shout out to Joyous and Nicole for all the help!)
The end of the semester (and the end of a long career at Muhlenberg, for some of us) is upon us! Last night, Simmi, Ellison and I attended the 3rd Allentown Sustain-a-Ball, hosted by the Allentown Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC). Aside from being a great end-of-the-year celebration with our colleagues from around the Lehigh Valley (many of whom have either tabled at Muhlenberg’s Earth Day Celebration, or we have collaborated with them for a Tree House event), we were particularly thrilled to attend the event on behalf of the Tree House, as it was honored as an up-and-coming sustainability effort in the Lehigh Valley. For more information about the event, check out http://www.sustain-a-ball.com/!
From left to right: Ellison Heil, Jake Schwartz, Nicole Karsch, Bess Glickman, Simmi Patel, Richard Niesenbaum, Nickie Cammisa, Kalyna Procyk
Also— don’t forget to check out our solar hot water usage and savings at the following link: http://amatisdash.com/live/dash/?Site=14a. For future reference, it is also located in the “About Us” section of this blog. Note: the house will be unoccupied from May 18 until Mid August 2014, so that is why the hot water usage is low or non-existent. Similarly, this blog will be on Summer vacation :)
Thank you for checking out our blog and keeping updated with the happenings of Muhlenberg College’s Tree House.
May the 4th be with you,
Well everybody, the semester is rapidly coming to a close, but the mission and progress of the Tree House will live on through the summer! With brand new paths taking shape, fresh mulch being spread, and a cleaner herb spiral being rebuilt, the garden is finally coming into its own and taking shape as a proper permaculture forest. While we at the treehouse have decided to postpone the rebuilding of the steps until the summer, new priorities of pathway construction and herb spiral redesign have been coupled with existing goals of mulching before the year is out. Bricks have been relayed, the trellis has been painted a fresh, shiny, Muhlenberg red, and the garden has actually begun to shape into a unique piece of usable, self-sufficient landscape. We have made great re-use of the bricks from the former garden boundary construction, and have made excellent progress on weeding and cleaning out pathways for easy navigation of the garden. Next weekend, we hope to mulch the grounds entirely, and eventually make headway on clearing out the second tier of the forest. Finally, please all come out to the showing of DAMNATION, an incredible documentary that we have received exclusive rights to show at the Tree House, thanks to Muhlenberg EnAct!!! It will be this Friday around 7:00. Hope to see you there!
Be well, friends, and until next time,
I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather! Hopefully we are done with cold weather for the rest of the spring season. We have started to work in the garden mostly cleaning up around the plants and trying organize things in the garden. Our project for the rest of the year is to mulch the garden! We will be using “organic” mulch which essentially means using leaves, twigs etc. that have be collected in the last year. I think this is a great way to promote the tree motto of sustainability. While the organic mulch does not look as pretty as the darker one, it still will do the job and still promote sustainable methods. Earth Day was this past weekend! Unfortunately the rain forced all events indoors however still a great event! So far, I have pretty much been using all local and organic produce! I try to buy local and organic primarily because I believe it is important to know where your food comes from. Buying local also supports our communities which benefits all! I hope everyone continues to enjoy this weather!
Early this Sunday morning I awoke to a bluebird day. I threw on my Bean Boots, snagged one of my many jackets, and scrambled into our garage for four metal shovels. I threw them into the back of the Muhlenberg Shuttle and hopped into the shotgun seat, four of my fellow early risers seated comfortable in the rows behind. We were destined for Riegelsville PA, to meet up with Dan Lieber a self sufficient, artisan, free-flowing farmer. I threw in my ear buds and dozed off to Radiohead’s Kid A album until waking up to a spotted dog, Cowbell, come running to great his new visitors. We wandered about from the prairie grass maze to the garden beds of freshly sprouting garlic, in awe of a simpler life-style. From here we divided into teams, Nickie and Simmi headed the chicken coop operation, giving them a fresh, clean home, and even witnessed the laying of a farm fresh egg. I entered into the sheep pen with Nicole and Alli, making animal noises while we waited for Dan to come back. It was our mission to manicure the sheep. We herded them into their barn with awkward hand motions and released them one by one with the help of a flimsy piece of plywood. It was my job to sit atop the sheep while Nicole and Alli wooed the stressed beast, allowing Dan to clip all four hooves of each ewe. As the process progressed the mothers would call out in conversation to their baby lambs in a series of “baas” and grunts. Realizing the stress on the mother-child relationship we carried one by one the babies outside to their waiting mothers, leaving behind Big Daddy, the ram. Here is where the fun began. Positioning a 400lb ram atop a metal stand for an extended period of time, to trim its hooves can be easier said than done. But after a successfully being squished by a dread-lock Rastafarian ram, a couple of laughs and “oh shits” from the group, we finally released the big ole from his harness and watched as he ran to his herd. We finished the day with a tour of Dan’s witchcraft corner, some ritual cleansing, and rock placement before sitting down to rest. As noon approached, the van returned, and we mossied our way over slowly, fighting the urge to never leave that place. Somewhat reluctantly we all piled back into the shuttle, I conversed and reminisced with the driver about the land in Virginia before throwing my buds back in. The Shins clouded my thoughts as be entered back into the Muhlenberg Bubble, life “returning to normal”.
The good news is: the snow has finally melted and we can see the entire garden! The bad news is: it has been raining so much that we have not been able to start our Spring workdays just yet. Unfortunately, we had to reschedule our March event due to the weather as well; we had a volunteering field trip planned for today to a farm in Riegelsville, PA. We are glad our plants are getting watered but anxious to get outside! It’s been a long winter.. luckily we still have mint tea leaves (dried from our backyard) to keep us warm.
In other news, Muhlenberg College’s Earth Day celebration is coming up soon! It is on April 11th and the Tree House will be represented at the event. Drop by our table to meet current and future members of the Tree House and to learn more about us! It is free and open to the public :) We have also planned a very exciting event for May, just before the finals period here at the school. Teaser alert! It will be delicious. Stay tuned the next few weeks to find out what we’re planning…
Good Eve, my good friends,
I am excited to finally report to you that the snow is receding more and more each day, which means springtime progress will (hopefully) be getting under way soon. As the winter focus on education and cultivation of a sustainable attitude awaits its transition into physical manifestation around our Permaculture garden, we at the treehouse are preparing ourselves to exit hibernation and get our hands dirty once more. With a focus on mulching the garden, maintaining the healthy nature of the plants, and preparing to enter into summer projects and eventual harvesting, we are all tremendously excited to begin another phase of Tree House growth. With an incredibly successful Mediterranean dinner under our belts, we are also looking forward to many more themed organic dinners with delicious local food. One of the mantras of the treehouse is education through action, whatever the venue or task may be. We are incredibly excited to adapt this philosophy to this Spring’s upcoming series of events!
We hope you all who are reading are doing so with a happy and sustainable heart and mind!
‘Till next time,
I can’t believe how fast this semester is going by! Hopefully we are officially done with this winter vortex and will be entering the season of spring soon! Thus far in the semester, we had our first organic dinner and it was incredible! The food was delicious and overall it was a great turnout! We will be hopefully planning another event in the future! I wanted to highlight the importance of utilizing local and organic foods! Most people think organic food is very expensive which is usually true however we are lucky enough to have a great farmer’s market right here in Allentown! The farmer’s market has everything from organic honey to fresh local vegetables! It is a great place for food, culture and fun! It also reasonably priced, which is always a bonus. I hope this helps!
Until next time, which hopefully will be in warmer weather,
Hello again fellow treehuggers, last time I left off I had just returned from winter break and had greeted you upon my return from the West Coast with a rambling of my mind and a few snapshots of how I view the world. It was a fairly lengthy post I will keep this one short and sweet. First off we have been getting dumped on this month and have had multiple classes canceled due to Snowpocalypse: 2014, leaving our native plant garden to hibernate under a blanket of bleach white snow.
Display of the Treehouse Local/Organic Dinner
Since gardening has been out of the question, the Treehouse decided to stay toasty inside and successfully held our second house dinner of the school year. The dinner was hosted by The Foods of the Mediterranean, a local business based out of the Allentown Farmer’s Market just down the street from us. Open to the Campus Community, the dinner provided fresh made hummus, falafel, pita, whole-grain pasta salad, salad greens, tubule, and of course plenty of laughs and joyous discussion. We will be taking a break as Spring Break starts this Friday. Oh how I can’t wait to disappear into the trails of the AT.
The Tree House was well represented at the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) Campus Sustainability Conference this past weekend. All four members of the Tree House attended the conference and Christian, Ellison and I presented posters we created about the house; I presented on the use of the Tree House as an educational tool for Muhlenberg College, and Christian and Ellison presented on the permaculture garden in particular. The conference presented a great opportunity to compare notes with our colleagues at nearby universities, sharing our respective successful and unsuccessful approaches to campus sustainability projects. The four of us were also able to connect with other local community members, including some of the previous donors of plants for the permaculture garden!
As Simmi and I move on to our post-graduate lives, Christian and Ellison will continue the Tree House. We also recently filled the other two slots in the house for next year, so congratulations to our new members! You will be hearing from them on the blog before you know it!
Anxiously awaiting snowmelt,