serviceberriesWhat Is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an approach to designing sustainable, ecologically-sound, perennial food-producing systems, large or small, that mimics the complex relationships found in nature. ‘Perennial’ means plants that come back every year by themselves, so once they’re established, they’ll give us fruit, berries, sap, nuts, and other good things, without much help from us!

What’s going on with permaculture at St. Dunstan’s? 

Permaculture is a new approach here, and implementing permaculture on our grounds will take several years. So far, we’ve focused on what’s already here, discovering and appreciating some of food-producing plants and trees already on our property: black walnuts, pear, crabapple, redbud, serviceberries, garlic mustard, elderberry, linden, wild strawberries, mulberries, purslane, & more. Last summer, we planted some new trees and bushes in the woods and elsewhere on the grounds.  Please be mindful and kind to our new plants and trees, as you walk in the arboretum! If all goes well, over the next few years there will be nuts, berries and fruit for all of us to enjoy.

Plans for 2014

This spring and summer, our plans include:

  • Tending to last year’s plantings (clearing around them, labeling/mapping them, etc.)
  • Clearing small trees and brush from the hillside behind the parish center and rectory, and continued clearing of buckthorn and other invasives throughout the woods
  • Planting more trees and large bushes, in cleared areas of woods & behind the church
  • Planting bee- and butterfly-friendly plants in the garden bed behind the church and along the drainage ditch beside the back path
  • Cutting some black locust saplings (an invasive) and using them to build an arbor for climbing plants (like grapes or hardy kiwis) to be planted in 2015

We also look forward to gathering & enjoying some of the wealth that’s already here!

  • Tree tapping & sap boil, March – April
  • Garlic mustard pesto, May
  • Mulberries and serviceberries, June – July
  • Blackcaps and raspberries, July
  • Elderberry syrup, cider pressing, and black walnut gathering, September and October

We first got interested in permaculture thanks to a wonderful workshop offered here by Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm. Check out his website to learn lots more!

Want to get involved? Look for announcements of upcoming workdays or events. You can ask to join our Food Forestry at St. Dunstan’s Facebook group, if you’d like to hear about workdays or good gathering times! 

6205 University Ave., Madison WI