Rolling a tread between People and Permaculture

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Philadelphia, PA: Repair The World

When you walk into Repair the World’s 4029 Market St. location, it’s like walking into a clubhouse turned headquarters. And the reason for the swanky appeal? Every single piece of decor was found and replicated from Pintrest. Aside from being a Jewish non-profit focused on identifying and partnering with local organizations focused on fair  food access and social justice. The space becomes an energy vortex for everyone and anyone impassioned by these causes.


So how did we end up walking into a panel featuring some of the coolest urban farmers in Philly? The allure of a rooftop farm  called Cloud 9 run by Rania a local Philly farmer. We were expecting our visit to end with the rooftop, but because of how connected Repair the World is to local organizations, like Cloud 9, we ended up being introduced to a world of people who were only dreaming to meet.


Repair the World is more than just a place to hold events. It is a space to become invigorated, rooted and exposed to some of Philadelphia’s most forward thinking, hardworking and justice-centered, these are real superheroes.


You can be apart of Repair the World’s staff. If you are between the ages of 22-26 you can apply to be a fellow in Baltimore, Philadelphia and other major cities. You don’t have to be Jewish to apply to find out more visit their website:

Repair the World had a full house! Not only did they provide stimulating panelists, they fed us a delicious array of Turkish foods.

Repair the World had a full house! Not only did they provide stimulating panelists, they fed us a delicious array of Turkish foods.


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South Philadelphia: Philly Food Forest

What’s Cool About It:  The Philly Food Forest rises out of what was formally a magnet for trash. Set in a quiet community where residents hang out on their stoops, it is a refreshing green space in a concrete deadlock. In its 5th year development, spawned by the Occupy movement, the forest is coming into maturity. Mulberry, apple and fig trees are fruiting, strawberries are sprawling and other annuals are springing up in the warmth of the sun.

It took time for this forest to become a space for local kids and adults to feel welcome. At first a group of “strangers” Marlon and his friends started the forest simply out of a desire to have fresh food. They aren’t on a pedestal or anything, just out to learn and experience what it means to grow something fresh. And share that opportunity with everyone who cares to walk into the forest.


Some of the awesome permaculture techniques they use besides mixing perrenials and annuals are the following: A rain water catchment at the apex of the property, hugel bed, green manure with comfrey and  increase the edge with curvy beds. Additionally, they are using phytoremediation to clean up an area with a high lead content. Since its conception they have removed the plants developing in the area from the food forest to a disposal site. 5 years ago the level read at 800 ppm and now it reads at 650 ppm. Now that is pretty damn awesome! Once it gets to 400 they can grow all types a’ cool stuff.


Entering into a community where you don’t “belong” is hard. And Marlin pointed out that he wasn’t there to preach about permaculture. Instead, he was there because he wanted fresh food. He attributes the success of the garden to his personal desire to see it flourish. But also recognizes that his day in day out presence shows the community that he cares and in turn it allows the community to open up to him.

I mean gosh damn! We rolled up there and talked about how we were going to visit the food forest and everyone knew that Marlin was apart of it and spoke about how cool it was. Now that is called knowing and engaging with your community. Slow grow people. Slow grow.

The most important thing to know is that this oasis can be snatched away in a moment’s notice. They don’t own the land and this is something that affects most community gardens. The government could decide to sell the land to develops. But regardless, this space is a place of pride, excitement and tasty strawberries to kids and adults in the summer.

If you get a chance visit Philly Food Forest, see photo!


North Philadelphia: Historical Fair Hill Burial Ground

Meet Victoria and Sookie (that adorable pitbull) they use the cemetery often.

Meet Victoria and Sookie (that adorable pitbull) they use the cemetery often.

This is Bri Barton the cemetery's wonderful farm manger. She is showing us mug-wart which can induce menstruation in women and often vivid dreams

This is Bri Barton the cemetery’s wonderful farm manger. She is showing us mug-wart which can induce menstruation in women and often vivid dreams

Irises in bloom? So beautiful.

Irises in bloom? So beautiful.


Quakers believe that all people are equal and that their gravestones should reflect it. Often mistaken for a pet cemetery because the stones are so small, it is really just a sign of equity among members.


Meet Yona a jetsetter with a heart for permaculture, travel, japanese culture and fun!

Meet Yona a jetsetter with a heart for permaculture, travel, japanese culture and fun!

The entrance into the cemetery.

The entrance into the cemetery.

What’s Cool About it:  20 years ago Historical Fair Hill Burial Ground was a dump. Everything from bags of trash to cars were dumped in this space. There was no fence, no purpose and it was a disgrace to the deceased Quakers who rested beneath the mounds. When two children were killed in heated crossfire, the community retraced the origins of the burial ground to the Quakers and asked for them to take responsibility for the land. The burial was far from a beautiful green space and was in fact a sore in the community.

The Quakers responded immediately putting up a fence that was stolen overnight. This space required commitment to restore it to its former glory and a newer stronger fence was put up. No lawn mower had been able to cut the grass in over 20 years and it took 3 long years of clearing out all the junk before a shiny Cub Cadet was able to taste its greenery.

When was the last time someone wanted to bring their children into a cemetery? Well at Historical Fair Hill Burial Ground that is exactly what people do. The founders intentions were to have a well groomed cemetery but also a playground and active garden too.

Who the hell does that? Death is often a dead end, however Fair Hill changes our perception of what a cemetery is. It changes our perception of where we can rejoice and be positive and experience healing. It makes sense to place a garden in a cemetery that makes you aware of the life cycle, because in a garden things live and die and there is growth. Why not acknowledge life and rejoice in life? Instead of avoiding death like the plague.

About the farmers:

Bri Barton, the farm manager is freakin’ amazing. Not only did she offer her home to us within the few seconds of meeting with us we were able to experience Fair Hill through her eyes. She’s a super friendly chick. She gives off a cool easy vibe of love and respect for her work and the community she is newly apart of. We really enjoyed learning to identify plants we’ve never seen before, like comfrey, hairy vetch and mugwart.

Check out  the Historical Fair Hill Burial Ground at

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Our Time In Philly In Photos

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Tell Me, What is Compost Tea?

While passing through New York City, the Permacycle Team stopped in Brooklyn for a community work day. We found a permaculture meetup group through the site and showed up for a compost tea workshop and garden cleanup. We also got a great lunch out of it which was a really nice vegetable soup.

The idea of compost tea is similar to that of compost but on steroids(or maybe all natural supplements). It is a high intensity and deeply nourishing tonic used FOR YOUR GARDEN….drink at your own risk… to kick start the microbial life in the soil just before or after

When organic materials breakdown, they do so by hosting themselves as food for a plethora of microorganisms, fungus, insects, and a bunch of other stuff. A carrot for example only transitions into soil only after this community of living creatures has eaten and up and turned it around back into the ground.

Compost tea is all about that community, that beautiful, disgusting, buggy, dirty web of life that turns your organic matter into soil(its not DIRT!).  We need to take that community from Average Team to Action Team, we gotta pump them up so we have got to give them what they want. Popeye needs spinach and the action team needs Oxygen, Sugar, and some room to breathe.

Below is a picture gallery of how to make your own compost tea!


Trial by Water: Day 1 of Our Bronx, NY “mini-tour”

Two weeks ago we decided to do a mini-tour to the Bronx, New York to help Tanya Fields, founder of the Blk Project break ground for their brand spankin’ new garden location! Tanya Fields and her organization can be found here.

This is the event we are participating in:


Tanya is a powerhouse of a woman. Her organization “seeks to address food justice and economic development by harnessing the local, good food movement….[T]hrough culturally relevant education, beautification of public spaces, urban gardening and community programming …. [We} enrich the lives of women who are routinely overlooked and overburdened, yet serve an important and critical role in the larger fabric of society…”.

We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to help a great purpose, so we decided that we would bicycle the 83-miles to the Bronx from Hamden, CT. How bad could it be?


Well, It’s a wet hell out there. Continue reading


Frequently Asked Questions: About Our Tour

I wrote this post for my co-workers, friends and family members who have a few questions about my adventure. This is my point of view, I am speaking for myself, not Seth.

Questions and Answers

*If you have anymore questions, feel free to ask in the comments!*

Why am I doing this cycling trip? Who am I doing it with? 

*Talking to Seth: Yes I did snatch this photo from your Facebook!* This here is my best friend at his finest, notice the fox pelt around his neck, swanky suit and tie and clean shaven look. I haven’t actually seen him like this in person….but this part of him does exist….somewhere. I’m sure this bike trip will push it away into the abyss of “Never Coming Back”. Lol. All love, Seth!

This is my partner in crime. We are doing this adventure together.

It was actually my best friend Seth Columbia’s trip idea first! He talked to me briefly about how he planned on cycling the country to study permaculture and eco-villages. On September 11, 2014, I asked if I could join the adventure.  And he said “Yes”!

Seth and I will celebrate our 3 year friend-aversary this summer.

What motivated me to do a bicycle tour when I can drive across the country?

I have always wanted to do a bicycle tour. I dreamed of doing one along the west coast with some chic ladies, but viewed the venture as a pipe dream: Where would I ever find someone who I was compatible with, who was committed to fulfilling the dream and would be willing to take risks, like leaving their current job? I thought that it would remain a dream, until this fall.

As for bicycling, bicycling is the free-est (not only money-wise) form of travel available to me! On my bicycle no place is out of reach, I feel completely independent, strong and in-touch with the natural world around me. Besides there is a huge rush riding through blizzards, sweating through summer heat or enjoying a cool ride in the fall!

You are going on a fully loaded bicycle tour. What is that? 

Well it looks like this:

This is more or less what my bike will look like! Life on a bike 😀

Essentially, each cyclist carries the most basic items they need to live.

See our list beneath the “Will you be staying in hotels?” question.

Are you bicycling around aimlessly or do you have a mission?

Seth and I have a mission. Our mission is to connect people to permaculture and to the greater environmental movement.  We have researched and mapped out over 50 places across the country who are doing amazing, inventive, spirit raising work.

Personally, I am interested in restoring self-reliance to communities who are vulnerable to the economic conditions, social ills and discrimination by equipping them with the knowledge of permaculture, co-housing and community organizing. I want to use my deep roots in the environmental movement to empower, uplift and restore dignity, agency and power to disenfranchised people groups, particularly my own Black community.

Why is the name of your tour PermaCycle? What does that mean?

We developed the name PermaCycle to describe two things: our mission and our hopes.

There are 2 ways to read our adventure name.

1. Permaculture + “cycle” = PermaCycle. This is our hope. We want permaculture to become part of a greater cycle and global rhythm. The values of Permaculture which are  Earth care,  People Care and Fair Share are values which change the way people relate to the earth, themselves and material possessions. We want permaculture to become the driving force of economic change, agricultural developments and social transformation.

2. Permaculture + Bicycle= PermaCycle. This is our means of transportation and our current mission  We are exploring permaculture and the various ways it has inspired and grown up with the eco-village movement, intentional living community and various other off-shoots of self-reliance, community, and perseverance.

What is your route?

We will be going on two trips.

The first is a “mini-spring tour” to Maryland. We have mapped out places in CT, NY, PA and MD where we will be visiting, documenting and learning about. This trip is our “trial and error” run. We will learn how to navigate the roads

Our main trip starts the last week of May. This trip consists of 4 legs. Our first leg is from Baltimore, Maryland to Asheville, North Carolina. Second leg will be from Asheville, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana. Third leg will be from New Orleans, Louisiana to Telluride, Colorado. Fourth leg Telluride, Colorado to San Francisco, California.

How many hours will you cycle in a day? 

In the beginning month of our trip we hope to be able to ride at least a minimum of 30 miles a day in 8 hours.

As we grow stronger we hope to be able to push 50 miles to 60 miles a day.

Will you be staying in hotels?

’nuff said.

I would be surprised if Seth and I stayed in a hotel once in our trip! We will be riding with all of our gear on our bikes. Our gear will be in panniers and lashed down with bungee cords. Essentially, everything we need will be on our bikes!

We will carry the following:


Sleeping Bag

Backpackers Stove <A bunson burner>


Mess Kit


On the Bike Clothes

Off the Bike Clothes




Bicycle GPS

Solar Powered chargers

Bike repair kits

National Park Pass <For $80 this park pass gives us unlimited access to ever y single national and federal park! We can even bring in 2-4 guests for free with our pass!>

Miscellaneous goods

How will you shower and do laundry?

Wherever and however we can! Bicycle tours are notorious for being full of blood, sweat and tears! We will be hopeful to shower at every organization, home and place we stop at. We are comfortable with the reality that showers and laundry mats will be far and few between.

What about food?


For the link:

Seth and I are committed to reducing the unnecessary and immoral waste in our country. Seeing that we have successfully experimented salvaging a jaw-dropping amount of edible gourmet organic foods from Grocery store dumpsters, we will be dumpster diving to obtain as much of our calories as possible. If you find this gross, consider that 40 percent of all food never makes it to a table- it goes to the trash. Now that is disgusting!

How long is your trip?

We will leave April 15th with the goal of being in Northern California by October 2015.

How do we stay in touch with you?

The best way to stay in touch with us is by following our blog, subscribing to Jasmine’s Bicycle Journal and “Liking” our page on Facebook. We will update you on our locations. If you would like to send us non-perishable food or camping equipment, we can arrange that!

What happens next? Do you have another job waiting for you? 

This is a big question.

I have stressed over this question.

My parents have stressed over this question.

Everyone seems to stress over this question.

I have resolved to do the impossible: Not stress about it. Worrying about the unknown won’t do anything but stir up dormant fears, paralyze me and prevent me from asking better questions like:  What legacy do I want to leave? What job(s) do I want to do? What problems do I want to solve? What type of community do I want to create?

After 1 ½ years of working in a for-profit company, I understand that I don’t want just ANY job. I want to decrease my reliance on money, by investing in things that give me back value. Like having a large backyard garden, raising my own livestock, and working as a freelancer.

I would much rather have several jobs that are life giving, that I am proud of, than one that strips me from my ability to feel alive.  I don’t plan on being a comfortable middle-class American living in a home, in a neighborhood with people who don’t know or care to know me, I don’t plan on having very nice material things. Instead, I plan on having a rich wealthy lifestyle where I depend on others and they depend on me and together we create  life of fun, family and community.

Idealistic? Very.

But the question is: Isn’t life too short to live out anything BUT your ideals?