Sonic Bloom Festival hosts Permaculture Action Day at local Walsenburg Community Farm

Sonic Bloom Festival hosts Permaculture Action Day at local Walsenburg Community Farm
July 18, 2016 Perma Action

(Event Date: Sunday, June 16th, 2016)

For the second year in a row Sonic Bloom Festival held a Permaculture Action Day at the new community farm in nearby Walsenburg, Colorado, the closest town to the music festival’s venue, Hummingbird Ranch.  On Thursday, June 16th, the day the festival begun, about 50 of the festival-goers came first to the District ONE Farm at John Mall High School to install a rainwater catchment system off the school’s roof and dig a series of rainwater catchment earthworks – depressions in the landscape that catch and store water in the ground for irrigating the farm’s plants.

Urban Farmer Nick Gruber from Produce Denver brought down dozens of tools that made the action day possible. Stephanie Syson, designer of the Basalt public food forest, brought a beautiful collection of trees and support-species from the nurseries of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.

Three action day participants build an A-Frame to measure contour of the land for the exact route the swale will be taking. “On contour” refers to keeping everything level, such that the path of the swale moves along the contour - or the line made by connecting equal points in elevation along the landscape - of a slope so that the water absorbs evenly.

Three action day participants build an A-Frame to measure contour of the land for the exact route the swale will be taking. “On contour” refers to keeping everything level, such that the path of the swale moves along the contour – or the line made by connecting equal points in elevation along the landscape – of a slope so that the water absorbs evenly.

The farm, which was started during a Permaculture Action Day before Sonic Bloom Festival 2015, has not had water for the last year.  Now, after the festival’s community action day, water is flowing into the ground where the farm will be growing fresh, nutrient-rich produce for the people of Walsenburg.  Colorado-based permaculture designer and water systems expert Avery Ellis designed the water catchment system to bring the rain off the roof, beyond a 30-foot paved parking lot, and over a deep drainage ditch to reach the farm where it is needed.   Quite a design feat to reroute the water!  

Huerfano County has been ranked as one of the poorest counties in Colorado with some of the worst food nutrition on record, so this people-powered community farm is a significant step towards creating food access and food justice for the area.  

After the participants created swales on contour and installed a rainwater catchment system at the farm, we moved to the One Table restaurant in downtown Walsenburg where we enjoyed a free meal at this new farm-to-table, by donation food establishment.  The restaurant seeks to distribute the food grown at the farm and garden in conjunction with LiveWell Colorado, an organization that focuses on nutrition and health.  Now, that’s how it’s done! Right?

Sonic Bloom Action Day

Participants digging earthworks on contour. You can see the blue 55 gallon drum in the background. The water will flow from there, where it is collecting rainwater from the roof, and travel underground in pipes to feed the farm!

After a day of hard work and enjoying a meal together, the festival participants continued on to the second farm site of District One where we planted fruit trees, berry bushes, and other plants with edible and medicinal uses and other beneficial outputs for neighboring plants.  The permaculture technique is called “guilds,” a “forest garden” assembly of plants in which the different species help each other by being interplanted while providing food, fiber, fuel, medicine, and other beneficial yields for people. Oh, the things we can do together!

The Permaculture Action Day was not the only sustainability effort Sonic Bloom Festival did this year.  The festival worked with us and GaiaCraft to host a three day Permaculture Academy Series on the festival site in the days before the event began.  This was an intensive course that people attended before the music festival started where they learned the permaculture design science of integrating people into the ecological web of life in a way that is mutually beneficial. We focused on soil building, perennial food systems, rainwater catchment, sustainable building, and community relationships.  This was the fourth “Permaculture Action Course” that the Permaculture Action Network has put on, teaching ecological design as well as community organizing skills.  

he rain barrel sits under the downspout of the gutter. As rainwater runs off the roof of the school, it will travel down the gutter directed into the 55 gallon drum where the water is stored. The red nozzle at the bottom of the drum allows you to release the 55 gallons of stored water when you choose to. The overflow pipe, above, sends any water above and beyond the 55 gallons that can be stored directly out to the farm whenever it rains.

he rain barrel sits under the downspout of the gutter. As rainwater runs off the roof of the school, it will travel down the gutter directed into the 55 gallon drum where the water is stored. The red nozzle at the bottom of the drum allows you to release the 55 gallons of stored water when you choose to. The overflow pipe, above, sends any water above and beyond the 55 gallons that can be stored directly out to the farm whenever it rains.

Sonic Bloom Action Day

Mike Wird teaching about natural building during our 3 day Permaculture Academy Series.

During Sonic Bloom we hosted a workshop space within the festival itself, the “Permaculture Action Hub,” where educators and practitioners held workshops and skill-shares throughout the event which were widely attended.  Teachers such as local Colorado experts Avery Ellis, Mike Wird, Robin Eden, TaraRae Kent, Stephanie Syson, Adam Brock, as well as our own Ryan Rising and GaiaCraft’s Keala Young, hosted workshops on edible and medicinal plants, composting and soil building, water catchment strategies, social permaculture and community organizing, reading a landscape for sustainable design, food forestry, and much more.

The week long events with Sonic Bloom Festival ended with power. More to come! Did someone say on the Road to Burning Man? … See the event page here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1081991805227093/

 

Check out more photos from our Sonic Bloom Permaculture Action Series:

https://www.facebook.com/permacultureaction/photos/?tab=album&album_id=637970519685809

 

Want to get involved?

Attend this year’s Sonic Bloom Permaculture Academy 2017:  http://sonicbloomfestival.com/academy/permaculture/

Come to the Sonic Bloom Permaculture Action Day 2017:  http://www.permacultureaction.org/event/sonic-bloom-permaculture-action-day-2017/