Barking Frogs Permaculture Center
Home of Yankee Permaculture and Elfin Permaculture
P.O. Box 52, Sparr FL 32192 USA
E-mail: BarkingFrogsPC at aol.com
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Greetings from Barking Frogs Permaculture Center. We send our annual report of
permaculture activities a little late this year because we have been very busy.
Again, the main news is the weather. Following extreme flooding two years ago,
we now experience our second year of drought. The entire swamp has evaporated,
something we could not have imagined. This has put a lot of our emphasis this
year on holding onto key plantings. A lot of time has been spent in
irrigation--setting up and moving hoses, etc. Unfortunately, due to the
limited capacity of our pump, we had to let a few things go.
We continued work in the pasture, though, planting more than two dozen trees
that we had in pots and continuing to establish legumes. Our trials have shown
that crimson clover is well suited to our conditions here.
We were also able to work in some areas normally wet, setting the stage to
gradually build chinampas there. We were very successful with sweet potatoes,
basil and lima beans in this area, as these plants withstood drought, wild
rabbits, and insect pests. We will cover planting areas with mulch after
harvesting and start to develop the soil, by mulch layering that builds
Most of the bamboos that withstood the floods of two years ago have also
survived the drought, the notable exception being black bamboo (Phillostachys
nigra). We lost two clumps out of three of this species, apparently due to its
inability to withstand the dry conditions, even with some irrigation. The
clumps were not well established, which may have been a factor. Some of our
shelterbelt bamboos, notably Bambusa multiplex, are starting to take off, which
is very gratifying, though none are well enough established to harvest clums
We made small progress extending the agroforestry area, clearing an especially
dense tangle of vines near the residence and setting out two loquats and some
miscellaneous understory. We cleared additional scrub to favor a colony of
farkleberries that we attempted to graft with cultivated blueberry varieties.
That became a major grafting project this spring, but we experienced widespread
graft failures, presumably due to drought. Because we are grafting on
established wild plants, they are scattered randomly, making irrigation
impossible with our limited pump capacity. We had to concentrate water on
clustered plantings of greater financial value. We had a much higher
percentage of takes the previous year. Nonetheless, some of the grafts took
hold and grew vigorously, evidence that established the adapted farkleberry can
supply the needs of the blueberry scions, even in unfavorable conditions.
Attempts to graft burr oak onto suitable wild oak saplings failed, possibly due
to the dryness. The very small scion wood was donated from trees that produce
We have not yet obtained grafting wood of suitable plum varieties to graft on
the abundant Chickasaw plum growing here. We plan to graft the many native
persimmon saplings we have on site, and encouraged them with mowing this year.
We also set out our cultivated persimmon trees, hoping to get some scion wood
for the experiments with the American species. Other native species we are
looking at as potential rootstocks are Persea boubonia, a close relative to the
avocado, and a native species of hawthorn that we encourage for its own sake
and to graft with cultivated varieties. We have begun to develop a small
collection of grafted varieties of loquat from saplings we have grown from
seed, and of course to graft some cold-hardy citrus varieties on rootstocks we
have been growing. We continue to experiment with a wide variety of other
trees, but have made little progress due to dry conditions. Donations of scion
wood are welcome.
Bald cypress is a species specifically slated for reforestation here in the
(usually) wetlands. We have 100 seedlings from the State expected next Spring
and 500 requested from National Tree Trust’s community tree grant program.
If we get the Tree Trust grant, we will need to level some land where we will
place an array of plastic “kiddie pools” holding water around the base of
gallon planting pots. We may decide to do this in a series of work days in
which we invite people to come and help develop the project. We will be
building a chinampa bed beside the leveled area, so people will have a chance
to work on both projects. If you would like to be notified of any work days,
please let us know. (If you contacted us in the past, we still have your info.
We did not call any work days last year.)
Work on the permaculture center has progressed slightly. Renovation of the
main office and repairs on the guest room will likely be completed next year.
That will improve productivity of office work, notably publications, and put us
in a better position to receive interns. As in the previous year, upgrading
the residence took precedence for the small amount of on-site carpentry Dan
Program wise, our annual Permaculture Design Correspondence Course via e-mail
continues to be our major teaching activity. We added to the course this year,
with a section on Design for Health to be presented by Cynthia. We have also
perfected a number of other features of the course, almost pro forma as the
course material matures.
This year’s course is underway. We will accept enrollments in the final
section, as the three sections can be taken in any order. The 2001 course
begins Oct. 14. The course runs 22 to 26 weeks, depending on the class needs.
We are very pleased that one of our current students is using our course to
launch a permaculture development program in rural South Africa. There, people
live very close to the margin. Permaculture design can help them improve their
material welfare substantially while protecting and healing their environment.
Otherwise, we did little teaching this past year. We continue to take a few
consulting jobs, usually providing deep experience to someone already involved
in permaculture design. Consulting does help support our other work.
If you wish to have a permaculture design or permaculture consulting at your
place, contact us by mail or Emil.
We made a small amount of progress in our publications, issuing Vol. VIII of
our directory, The Resources of International Permaculture. We also continued
to update our pamphlets and papers. But our serial publications, The
International Permaculture Solutions Journal and Permaculture Review,
Overview, and Digest, remained on the back burner. We also need badly to
document our permaculture design, for which we hope to attract a suitable
intern. We had an intern for that purpose this year, but after a short time she
was called home on family matters.
Our lives continue to be blessed. Cynthia has left her teaching position at
the University of Florida College of Nursing to develop her own practice,
Design for Health. Meanwhile she has joined the Obstetrics Department at
Shands Hospital, Gainesville FL, to help in both medical and administrative
One advantage of mailing our letter late this year is that we can invite you
to consider giving our publications or even a scholarship in our course as a
gift during the holiday season. The gift can be to yourself of course. In
addition to the meaning of a gift from you to the recipient, you also give back
to the Earth by providing information for more sustainable living, and of
course supporting us in our effort to make such information widely available.
Please check out our order form to see if there is something you would like to
give, maybe to yourself, or perhaps a contribution to our book fund. That
sends literature to places where it is badly needed but unaffordable.
We invite you to pass the word about our consulting, e-mail course and
internships. A workshop or course on site is a very economical way to get
permaculture design work and training for your own place. A few days of
permaculture consulting or an on-site workshop can be an especially valuable
gift to a homeowner or homesteader.
We know that most of you are also working hard for Mother Earth in many ways.
We thank you for your efforts and look to join forces when appropriate.
For Mother Earth,
Dan Hemenway Cynthia Hemenway