Potluck in the Park- Wednesday, July 9- featuring special Apios americana presentation and planting

The park is looking great, and this Wednesday evening we’ll be celebrating all our hard work with a potluck. Bring a dish to pass and get ready- this event will feature a short work session putting in strawberry plants (which will also be available for participants to take home for free) followed by a special presentation on the Apios americana by Dr. Gautam Bhattacharya, who will also be donating several of these plants for an experimental garden plot in the park. We’re really excited about this- the Apios, sometimes known as “potato bean,” is a native perennial vine that seems like a perfect permaculture crop. After that we’ll break out the picnic blankets and eat! This is a great chance to take in the park and learn about new plantings if you haven’t been over in a while, and we’re also hoping to gather your input and ideas for the next phase of the project’s development. 

More about Apios americana-


Apios americana, also known by a variety other names including potato bean; hopniss; and groundnut, produces a tuber that is like a more nutritious version of a potato- similar taste and look, but almost 4x the protein content (15% vs. 4%.) Apios is very versatile and can be grown in regular soil but it’s also notable for performing well in flooded, nutrient-poor environments such as swamps. This gives it an advantage if planted in areas that are vulnerable to heavy spring melts (such as our flooding creek!) It is also nitrogen fixer and helps regenerate the soil.
Apios_photoshoot2_2013 (3)
Apios is native to the area between Southern Canada and Florida and to the west as far as Colorado. However it has never been cultivated domestically, perhaps because the wild plants take a couple years to produce tubers. That makes these self-sowing perennials a perfect candidate for use in permaculture projects, which place less emphasis on immediate crop yields and allow for more patience. Dr. Bhattacharya’s crops were acquired from stocks created during a breeding experiment at Louisiana State University. He is currently attempting to set up a study on them at Cornell. They’ve been planted in several local areas, such as the meadow at Beebe Lake, and we’re excited to add them to the park as both an educational resource and a food producer!
apios_field_2012(1)apios_plant_2012 (6)Apios_1849_2011 (5)
For more information on the Apios americana and other edibles with domestication potential, see this article:http://www.wired.com/2014/06/potato-bean


The permaculture park project is located in Conley park, which is on Alice Miller Way between the Sciencenter and the old Neighborhood Pride building. If you live nearby, please consider cooking your dish-to-pass (and other meals!) with ingredients from the park. We’ve got a lot of things ripe right now, including lettuce, sorrel, chives, onions, garlic, yokatta-na (a leafy green similar to bok choy,) and serviceberries.

Event schedule:

4:30- work session, planting strawberries and mulching. Extra plants available for free!

5:30- Apios americana presentation & planting with Dr. Gautam Bhattacharya

6:30- Potluck dinner

info and updates available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/351979634952091/




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Why build a permaculture park project?

As we enter a new era of wild weather, rising food prices and crisis, crumbling infrastructure and the associated cost of maintaining the built environment, Ithaca’s first permaculture park project addresses many of these issues and more. Permaculture design offers a way to create resilient landscapes and food production systems that can weather the extremes that Mother Nature sends us more and more these days. By planting a diverse array of hardy perennial food plants in groupings, or guilds, which form mutually supportive plant communities, we can begin to transform the way we grow food. Permaculture systems are more resistant to drought and other climate extremes, pest and disease outbreaks and lower maintenance than conventional agriculture systems (thus reducing maintenance costs). At a time our city is struggling to make ends meet, we can provide a great service by adopting and maintaining one of our city parks using a good deal of volunteer labor. Green spaces are a great way to absorb excess rainfall and by gradually replacing lawns with food producing landscapes, we can increase the ability of our green spaces to suck up extra water. Other environmental benefits include habitat enhancement and increased availability of food for our at-risk pollinators.

Resilient communities need smart environmental design, but they also need socially conscious design. Growing food in public spaces that can be picked and eaten by any and all is in itself a revolutionary act. We live in an era when essential needs like food, water and shelter increasingly are commodified and treated as a tool for profit. By decommodifying food, we provide a new model not just for growing food, but for organizing a compassionate society in which the needs of people come first. When we no longer are worried about where our next meal is coming from, we can turn our minds to other important societal questions. Most Americans have trouble getting enough fruit in their diet, so readily available fruit plantings near our homes also will increase our health, making us stronger, more clear headed and more effective in our communities. By working together as a community to build and maintain this project, we also are building camaraderie and engaging in important conversations while we work.

There is also one final goal being achieved by this project that often goes unnoticed and undervalued in our culture; beauty. In my mind, there is nothing more beautiful than a healthy, productive ecosystem with an abundant and diverse array of fruits, flowers and forms. There is nothing more beautiful than dedicated individuals working together to achieve a common goal and working toward the greater good. And there is nothing more beautiful than a community such as ours which embraces a project like this wholeheartedly, knowing that we can and need to be an example in this time of uncertainty.

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Work Party June 11th

Mayor Svante Myrick contemplates what to plant next

Mayor Svante Myrick contemplates what to plant next

We’ll be getting together at the park on Wednesday from 4-6 pm. In addition to weeding and mulching we may also be planting a couple new things. For anyone who missed out on our opening ceremony last Monday, we can also tour the park to see the newest plantings including our first “permaculture guild.”

The Permaculture Park is located at the corner of Adams and Lake in Conley Park, right next to the science center. For more information contact josh at sapsquatch7@gmail.com or 607-280-8498. Please help us by spreading the word to your gardening friends and any potential new gardeners you know. Hope to see you there!

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Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery

Many thanks to everyone who came to our ribbon cutting event on Monday. It was great to meet some more neighbors and others who’ve been enjoying the park! It was a big day for us. In addition to installing our new sign and hearing mayor Myrick’s speech, we were excited to plant a new bed of Jerusalem artichokes with a 1st grade class from Beverly J. Martin Elementary School led by teacher Suse Thomas and Charles Rody. We hope you enjoyed seeing the way our new plantings are helping the park come together while providing an example for future public permaculture/edible landscaping projects.  Take a look at our photo gallery from the event, courtesy of Eric Banford:

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We’re Official! Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony with Mayor Svante Myrick to be held June 2nd

A year in the making, our grand opening is set for Monday, June 2nd from noon to 2pm. Mayor Svante Myrick will be here to plant a fruit tree and cut a ribbon on our beautiful new sign, courtesy of the wonderful Master Gardener Angela Loh. There will be refreshments and tours of our new plantings. This is a big moment for us, as well as anyone that has helped out in the past year. Come on over to celebrate and learn more about edible landscaping!

Our new sign, painted by master gardener Angela Loh

Our new sign, painted by Master Gardener Angela Loh

In preparation, we are holding a work session this coming Tuesday, May 20th, from 4-6:30 pm. We’ll be labeling our new plantings and putting together simple rabbit cages for some of the more vulnerable ones. We’ve got just a bit more sheet mulching to do, and we also have some new plants to put in. The weather forecast has been kind to us and this will be a great chance to get things in tip-top shape for the ribbon cutting and for the summer. We hope to see you there!


Check back in upcoming days for more updates about the ribbon cutting ceremony. If you’ve just heard about the Permaculture Park, check out our “About” and “What is permaculture?” pages for our location and background info.  You can also find us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Permaculture-Park-for-Ithaca/560861567288075


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New Roots Class Visit Recap




A big thank you to the “Farm to Table” class at New Roots, who came to visit and help out with the park last Tuesday. After a discussion on permaculture principles, we got to put in our newly arrived order of exotic fruit, including the hardy banana plant pictured here:


A publicly viewable photo gallery from the day is up on the New Roots facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.736813669690217.1073741836.118964734808450&type=3

We love working with groups. Projects like ours work best when as many people as possible have a stake in our success. When everything is blooming you’ll be able to enjoy it even more knowing that you pitched in to make it all happen. The “Conservation Corps” from GIAC is coming this week and we’d love to work with other groups as well. If you are part of a group that you think would be interested in visiting us please let us know!


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First Work Party Recap

The weather on Saturday was nice to us and we got a good jump on setting things up for the summer.  People from all over the neighborhood came to help get all the beds mulched and ready for planting. We also put in a row of apple trees, as this young volunteer saw here. Thank you to everyone for making our first work day a success. We have a new order of exotic fruit coming in these next few days that we can’t wait to plant. Check back later this week for a full photostream and updates on our next session!



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