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I really enjoyed reading paguyhere's forum post about this event at Seven Springs.  He was there with his converted-to-electric 1986 Fiero (photo), attended several classes, and heard Darrell Frey speak about permaculture.  Sounds like this is definitely worth checking out next year.


check out this video for some inspiration!!

I was looking up burdock root on my favorite wild food site, Wild Man Steve Brill, when I figured I would share.

This site has tons of recipes and wild plant identification for foraging and harvesting wild weeds.

Check out the story of how he got arrested picking plants in central park NY.


Hello folks,

My name is Ann and I am the new Events Coordinator for PGE.  I am taking the helm from Katrina, whom many of you probably know as this past years' Event Coordinator.  From what I've heard, Katrina, helped coordinate some fabulous events with your all's help and I hope to be able to pick right up where she left off.

I am new to Pittsburgh but I have a little bit of farming experience since I worked on the University of Kentucky's organic CSA farm for the past two seasons.  I still definitely classify myself as a beginner on many fronts, though, so I look forward to learning right alongside everyone.

Please contact me in regards to events you would like to see or would like to host.  Remember, PGE works because of your all's efforts in making it what YOU ALL want.  Let the ideas/skills/inspiration flow!

Hope to see everyone around town.


Ann DeSanctis

(I'm on the right w/ my fellow female farmers at UK's farm.)

Farm Girls

I can't believe I never knew about this site until now! has permaculture forums and a ton of 3 minute videos on different permaculture stuff.  I just watched a video about radiant-floor rocket-stove heating!

I live in the Carrick area and have found the perfect spot for a community garden . I contacted the owner everything seemed to be going fine then all of the sudden things got crazy .  Insurance , ownership , back taxes and I've hit a wall .  Most of you know how beneficial a community garden can be and I want so much for it to happen . The only way I can get help from the city is if the land is given up or taken away from the owner .  I don't know how to tell him this .

  I really would like to get this lot gutted out before winter .  Planted by next spring . Come harvest season all the food will be going to the free farmers market I'm starting at my local food bank . IT HAS TO HAPPEN !!!

 If anyone has any advice or good contacts please let me know . I feel like I've called about 20 people about this issue .  I maybe want to reach someone who has started a community garden before ; I think that would be most helpful .

BTW : The owner doesn't live here and wants to go home but is giving me a chance to sort things out .  Time is a factor!

Hey, everyone!

Throughout the month of August, the Black and Gold City Goes Green wants to show how eating a local, organic, vegetarian diet saves heat-trapping emissions.

This month, we encourage Pittsburghers to have at least one meatless day per week (green action), shop locally (greener action), and buy organic (greenest action!). By reporting your greenhouse gas saving action this month at, you can see how much you're saving and how the rest of the area is doing. Also, by reporting July, August, or September's actions, you're in the drawing for an awesome gift basket.

So keep eating those greens, and see how it's helping to make Pittsburgh even greener!

Lauryn Stalter- The Black and Gold City Goes Green

Are there any fig growers in Pittsburgh? I have been growing Brown Turkey figs for the past few years, and last year I started a Black Mission Fig. Most of my figs are in pots that I bring inside over the winter, but last year I started some Brown Turkey figs outside. I buried one over the winter, and it is doing fine no, no winter damage at all. The two I left out died down to the ground, but they have come back this year. One of them even has two figs on it already! The ones in pots look good, but they do not have a lot of figs on them yet. 

If anyone else is raising figs, I would be interested in sharing notes and practices.

OK this is a personal rant about my thoughts on lawns and our organized destruction of the urban/suburban environment.  Please comment with your thoughts on lawns.

First I'll start with some reasons for and the place of lawns but then follow with discussion on why I think lawns are idiotic, and we should get rid of them in favor of biodiversity and productive landscapes.

Don't get me wrong.  Lawns have their place:  golf fairways, football, rugby and parks all are great places for lawns.  However outside of sports and recreational areas, lawns are a threat to our health and wealth, literally. Here are some reasons against lawns:  lawns waste money,  lawns waste time, lawn care pollutes.

We spend a ton of money on lawns.  Even in my tiny suburb of Pittsburgh, there isn't a sunny day that doesn't humm with the sound of my tax dollars as well as my neighbors' hard earned income burned in a lawnmower, leafblower, chainsaw, hedgetrimmer or some other high-powered weapon of lawn destruction.  Go out to the country and it's the same thing. Only out there people have tractors for lawnmowers and spend thousands of dollars on mowing acres of lawn.  We are facing ever-increasing gasoline prices and run-away climate change. Is it only me that wonders why we must attack our surroundings with machines?  Are we really that stressed that we have to take it out violently on our front yards?

On one hand, all of this money spent is paying for a market of "landscapers"  who seem to spend every waking minute burning some form of fossil fuels.  These are jobs, and this is a rough economy I'm sure, but every one of these jobs and more could be put into orchards, coppice forests, pollinator gardens and bee boxes, rain barrel installations, and many more.  All of these jobs would produce a income producing product without burning fossil fuels.  Hmmm.

Speaking of that humming of lawn destruction.  Ever wonder how much time people spend in their lawns dumping poisons, attacking nature with gas engines, and otherwise disturbing the order of things?  If everyone quit mowing their lawns and took a break or a nap, maybe we could get along better...How many days did you lose to lawn work last season?  Weren't they the best days of the year to be inhaling gas fumes and tearing apart living tissues?

All of the "lawn care" chemicals, fertilizers, and fungicides leave our soil in pretty rough shape.  With no biology left, and no roots to hold it, increasing runoff water starts to pollute the surrounding areas without natural cleaning.  The lack of retention causes flash floods, and in Pittsburgh the soil starts slipping downhill.  This erosion and water pollution along with air pollution of small engines, and sound corrupting our peace make it hard to appreciate the quiet and deliberate design of natural forest systems.

But at least you get to look at short, parched, sunburned grass leaves.  That's beauty, right?.   Then we spend money on drinking water to resusitate the poorly rooted plants.  We are literally pouring recently chemically polluted drinking water into the storm drains and watersheds to keep our lawns alive when they thoroughly want to die.   Suburbanites grow lawns in the desert too.  Why?

Alternatively: trees, perennial herbs, rocks, and swales would passively regulate the water and temperature with no external inputs.  In this sense, spreading lawns across America is actually helping contribute to our loss of climate control. 

"Lawn's looking good today neighbor. You have conquered your soil to the edge of death and starvation.  You have tossed the life of topsoil to the wind while managing to burn through excessive amounts of gas and drinking water.  Then you poured poison on it.  Well done.  Take that nature."            <3 Jeff

OK so what is this all for?  I've heard two suggestions:

One was that we hold this aesthetic from our days from the African Savanna where trees and low grass happen naturally.  Until an elephant knocks the tree down in favor of forage grass.  Grasslands only occur naturally where there is disturbance, due to animals, fire, or lawnmower abuse.  In our geographic location, the natural succession would be to forest, so cut the lawn we must to keep the aesthetic of a savanna with large foraging animals. 

The second suggestion was that a lawn is a status symbol from the days when you would have had a huge sheep flock to forage a large lawn.  Large lawns mean that you are wealthy.  I think this also has some merit because considering how wasteful lawns and suburbs are, it fits right in with the American plan for "conspicuous consumption" as a way of demonstrating wealth.

Bottom line:  lawns are the fashion right now.  The lawn economy is based in a fashion that was sold to us.  Like the economy that it built, lawn fashion is also phantom and volitile.  For any reasons, if it is a question of aesthetic, the predominant belief seems to be that a large short lawn is a good, beautiful thing. 

This is a question of fashion, but I believe we can change it.  We must help create a positive vision of a life without lawns:  a life with cleaner water & air, quieter streets, healthier ecosystems, and productive jobs.  By standing out and turning each of our lawns into a backyard oasis for wildlife, food production, herbs, forest farming or any other type of natural landscape, we will continue the trend towards the tipping point where people might get it.

If anyone wants any ideas on what to do besides lawns, send me a message.  Be safe out there.

End of Rant. Thanks :)

created at: 2010/06/18created at: 2010/06/18created at: 2010/06/18Last night began the planting of the straw bales. As I began planting, I saw things growing that I did not plant -- clusters of dark mushrooms. Being a budding mycologist, I became distracted from the planting and focused on identifying the mushrooms. Personally, I use When that fails, I break out my book Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora. One of these days, I will hit paydirt and find a huge bunch of tasty edibles. This is not that day.


These mushrooms had a specific property that made them relatively simple to identify -- they ooze black ink. As I handled several of these mushrooms, you can imagine what my fingers look like right now. These little guys are Coprinopsis atramentaria or Common Ink Cap mushrooms. Unfortunately, although edible, they are not desirable if you consume alcohol. I love a good IPA, and probably will not sacrifice beer for 5 days (suggested to be safe) to eat a mushroom that may or may not be tasty.

After identifying the mushrooms, I had to see what, if any, effect they may have on the bales and my plants. GOOGLE! After pouring through web sites, I think it is safe to say that mushrooms can only help the growing process.


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