In my experience, gardening is a motivating and compelling force to bring people together. Even with our time and attention constantly split and fractured, we still find ways to come together over gardening – perhaps particularly so over food gardening. While there are pros and cons to the ever increasing presence of technology in our lives, many gardeners have found that technology can be an incredible boon to our gardening knowledge and resources and connections. Photo: Members of Chico Garden Share Project at a project-hosted permaculture workshop “Making Bokashi and Creating a Winter Garden with Sheet Mulch”. Members shown include Chun of Agb Biotics, Rosie, Wendy and Joseph Wiklund, Leslie Wilson Corsbie, Laurie Niles and Monica Bell.
But what does it do to our real-life engagement and connections with our actual gardens and with other gardeners? People are social creatures at heart and we are ingenious at finding ways to come together. Many gardeners have found ways to leverage technology – specifically their computers, their smart phones and even social media like Facebook to help to bring them together, and propel them forward. Julie Butler is the brave, bright and energetic person who founded a group called Chico Garden Share Project – a wonderful model of how like-minded, activist people can come together in the virtual-world and create a caring, connected community in the real world and in real gardens in their community. Photo: Chico Garden Share’s profile picture on Facebook.
Butler planted the seed of the Chico Garden Share Project in December of 2010 when she created a Facebook page and persona called Chico Garden Share in order to create a nexus for sharing ideas in the Chico area. By October of 2011, when Chico Garden Share was profiled in the Chico News & Review by Claire Hutkins Seda, Julie (as Chico Garden Share) had close to 2000 Facebook “friends” in her own community and around the world. By early 2012, Chico Garden Share had more than 2500 “friends” and Julie began directing most of this online energy into the Chico Garden Share Project page – the more localized aspect of the idea. Photo: Julie Butler at a Chico Garden Share Project Living Soils workshop at the Worm Farm in Durham. Julie’s grandfather was the founder of the renowned Worm Farm.
With 739 members currently, Chico Garden Share Project is growing right along. This weekend, <strong>In a North State Garden has the fun and pleasure of interviewing Julie Butler and her friend and Chico Garden Share Project collaborator Leslie Wilson Corsbie, of Performance Landscape & Design, “a permaculture-influenced landscape company based in Chico, about their motivations and goals.
What is Chico Garden Share Project?
Chico Garden Share Project: “The Chico Garden Share Project is a Facebook group where people interested in food gardening can freely share information and experience online, and create events in order to get together in the real world and help each with their gardens.” People post questions, events, announcements, links to articles and ideas, photos of their own gardens, calls for help in their own or their community gardens, they post things for barter, crops to share, problems to solve, potlucks and seed swaps and garden classes and workshops to attend.
What was the original impetus for starting it?
Chico Garden Share Project: “I was worried about the environment and the economy, and what the future held for my kids. A friend had sent me a video about Permaculture (which means Permanent Agriculture and Permanent Culture), and it was called “Greening the Desert”. What I saw completely astounded and inspired me – With permaculture design techniques, right next to the Dead Sea, they were able to capture water from the air and collect it into the ground for their plants. Soon, an actually self-sustaining food-forest was growing, which boggled my mind. For once, I could see solutions, and they were solutions to healing the earth that we could all be active participants in, which also happened to feed us. So, I just went for it, and started the group.”
In your mind, why is this of critical importance to our community and our world right now?
Chico Garden Share Project: “Food gardening and farming using permaculture design provides a way to live sustainably upon the planet, no matter what the population, number one. So, it is critically important that people are aware of these possibilities and opportunities, and that they begin to realize that there is something they can do themselves in their own community to actually help the entire planet. When we garden, we become life-givers. But for the key to our success and the way to achieve maximum results, we need to focus on feeding and promoting the life in the soil. Once your garden is built up with living soil, your plants will naturally get all of the nutrition they need. The beauty of it is, it can be as simple as placing cardboard on your yard and keeping it moist – weeds will be stopped, and the soil will come alive. You can put compost on top of that, and plant directly into it, without digging or anything. So simple!”
What are you hopes for the future of the project?
Chico Garden Share Project: “2011 was spent promoting the group and bringing people together there, and building sheet mulch gardens at people’s homes with the group. This year (2012), I’m going to be spending less time on promotion and organizing, so that other people feel free to take the initiative to invent and create events themselves, and enjoy the camaraderie of the group, and making new friends in real life.”
Good gardening, good works, good friends in real life. Good goals to strive for – in the garden and on-line.
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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.