A Class Becomes A Community

When I signed up for the Permaculture Design class through Grayson LandCare, I knew there would be 72 classroom and field hours, learning about this type of farming/gardening/land management that mimics natural principles and emphasizes care of the earth while caring for the people who depend on that land.  It was a fluid group with many people attending one or two sessions or dropping in and out, and our teacher was flexible in letting us make up for missed sessions.  As we learned, we were designing a food forest at Church of the Good Shepherd on Route 58 and negotiating with them about using a piece of their land as our demonstration project.
What I did not know at the time was that the core group of us who finished the course and began working at the site would become a strong community, almost a family.  By sharing our questions, insights and bringing whatever knowledge or ideas we had to the group, we came to know each other well and value everyone’s contributions.  When classes ended, we used our monthly evening meetings to visit each other’s homes and land, offering thoughts and ideas about what might work there and addressing the owner’s specific concerns.
Then the magic happened:  When the group visited my house, they were distressed that my pond no longer had its waterfall working; two of the members had done pond work and thought they could fix it.  We set up a work day, and the “permaculture family” came to my house and moved rocks to find the liner leak, put down a new piece of liner, and replaced the rocks.  This also entailed uprooting huge masses of lizard’s tail (saururus) that had taken over that side of the pond and admiring salamanders and frogs.  Some research revealed that the current pump could not be repaired, so I ordered a new pump and, with the help of the experts in the group, now have a waterfall!
When another member moved from one rental home to another, she asked if we could help her move her raised bed gardens.  Trucks, a trailer and many containers and shovels showed up, and the garden was moved!   I’m sure this won’t be the last work party for this group.
I can’t express how satisfying it is to be part of a group that helps each other when needed, freely sharing time, expertise, and muscle to accomplish something one person can’t do alone.  I am deeply grateful for this group, and I encourage each of you to reach out to others with what you need, and what you can offer.  Community is priceless!
-Kathy Cole
President, Grayson LandCare