Mountain Gardens
A botanical garden of useful plants specializing in Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs

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APPRENTICE PROGRAM (2013)

Yes, there is an apprentice program for 2013 and below are some thoughts about it. (Below that are last year’s thoughts, and below that the previous year…  It’s all pretty much still relevant, except Steve is gone).

2012 was the best year yet for the apprentice program, and I’m hoping to build on what was accomplished.  Since three are returning, I only have openings for three (possibly four, if a couple) new apprentices.  Of course there will be a steady stream of WWOOFers and short term visitors.

2012 was a building year, with a lot of emphasis on organizing and expanding the garden, especially to increase the sunny areas suitable for food production. So an objective this year is to see how much of our own food we can produce: vegetables, fruit, staples (corn, beans, potatoes, etc.) and eggs (ducks).

We also greatly increased the photovoltaic system and bought a computer for the library and I’m hoping this year to do a lot of information recording (E.g. harvest calendars, fermentation & distillation experiments, MG database of useful plants & garden guidebook) and website improvement (posting photos and information, shopping cart).

Some areas of the garden were relatively neglected: seeking a curator for the wild (woodland, mostly) food garden, the Chinese & Native medicinal herb collection and the perennial vegetables.  Everything you need is here, or will be provided. These are world-class collections and very avant-garden (chefs are clammering for new wildfoods); we need to increase (multiply, add new varieties), record growing & harvest information and post it @ website. Oh, and do some marketing  (see below)

Need someone with beekeeping experience (although may have to settle for a ‘keen desire to learn.’)

The best way to earn what money we need (not that much, but there are always books to buy) is by staying home, teaching workshops and sharing this amazing facility (the environment, the gardens, the plants, the library, what’s inside my head / our heads).  This year I’d like to teach a series of 3-day workshops, on Chinese med herb cultivation, harvesting, processing and preparations, wildfoods & perennial vegetables and ‘Paradise Gardening.’  And it would be great to have someone here with experience in managing and (especially) promoting workshops – I don’t do social media, but I  gather that’s where it’s at.

This could be a money-making opportunity for someone, and there are others: last year we shipped $1000 of Chinese herb plants, bare root – the apprentices did it in a weekend, and pocketed the receipts.  We could triple that, if someone wants to take it on. There is similar demand for our unique selection of wildfoods Money-making opportunities abound here, and  I’ll be happy to share  the proceeds (you’ll get the bigger share) with anyone who wants to develop something.

I turned 70 a few months ago, and no longer want to supervise everything that goes on here: I’m looking for folks who can take on certain areas / projects and take them to the next level; this will be, of course, a collaboration.  I see Mtn Gdns as a community (if of transients).  My ideal model is still: we work together for half day on communal projects and then individually (or small groups) for the other half day on our particular projects.

Another  large area of responsibility is the kitchen – not just making meals (everyone helps with cooking / stovewood / dishwashing), but all the experiments with new foods, fermenting, brewing, distilling and preserving.  All kinds of crazy, innovative stuff goes on in the kitchen, and we need someone to keep track and keep records.

Here  is a list of additional goals for 2013:

 

GOALS & OBJECTIVES 2013

 

  • More food production: potatoes, corn, beans, squash (Resilient Gardener)  Grow out heirloom seeds (esp. beans) from Jim Veteto’s collection.
  • Finish pond (needs ferro-cob reinforcement) and fill
  • Get a flock of ducks going, probably Anconas. (need house, fenced yard, pond)
  • Continue expanding terraces on ‘food slope’, add poles and wires for fruit terraces.
  • Budding & grafting dwarf fruit trees on our rootstocks
  • Set up micro-brewery and perhaps host regular (weekly?) neighborhood pizza-brew events
  • bury water, phone & electric lines.
  • Record keeping: calendar for wildfoods harvest, propagation, seed-collecting, herb harvesting. Log all fermenting, brewing, distilling, tincturing experiments, and results. Update garden map.
  • New, informative labels for herb jars & tinctures.
  • Use new herb drier: Chinese herbs, tea blends, sales to coop
  • Make better compost, and compost tea
  • Website development: more info & pictures. Simplify ordering. list bare root plants and seasonal availability.  Seed list & prices.
  • Accumulate a lot of mulch & manure
  • More and better organized & promoted workshops; series of 3-day events
  • Improve a few camping spots (posts and rails, for a tarp covering)
  • Make up formulas for common complaints from our large selection of single herb tinctures
Joe Hollis