Do you know what hugelkulture, micro fodder, and vermiculture have in common?
More than just a bunch of fun words to say, these are some of the ways that Beaver Ponds is engaging in sustainable high elevation agriculture.
You can consider each of these initiatives as "demonstrations" that are meant to inspire folks like you to try some of these practices at home. Some may be more realistic for your lifestyle than others!
Over the past few months, we have had fun learning together with our interns, students, and visitors about how we are efficiently utilizing our agricultural resources at Beaver Ponds. This includes learning about high elevation gardening such as hugelkulture (a composting process employing raised planting beds constructed on top of decaying wood debris and other compost), micro fodder feed systems (a system for sprouting and growing barley for our livestock), vermiculture (process of using worms to decompose organic food waste), and mound composting.
As the the winter winds blew outside, we were able to grow Mesclun and Buttercrunch lettuce, Oriental giant and Tyee spinach, radishes, arugula, and barley grass for our animals in the passive solar/geothermal greenhouse. It is nice getting fresh leafy vegetables year round. Watch your inbox for upcoming opportunities to learn more about how you can grow your own leafy vegetables during the winter months.
The fall potato, calendula (marigold), and cabbage harvest was both fun and rewarding. Students from the Denver Downtown Expeditionary School and preschool-aged children from the neighboring town of Fairplay enjoyed pulling out potatoes from our new raised beds, while learning the source of some of their food.
With the help of volunteers, we were able to harvest a large amount of calendula seed to use this year in spring planting. Calendula Officinalis -- common name "marigold" -- is a medicinal plant that is widely used in balms, salves, and tinctures. The medicinal effects include antiseptic, antispasmotic, and skin healing properties. It is in the same family as Arnica and displays wound healing properties as does Arnica which is used topically for bruising and skin trauma. Interestingly, in the culinary world it is used as a dye for cheese and butters.
You may recall that we have planted oyster mushrooms on logs in our greenhouse. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they will begin fruiting soon and that you'll be reading about a bountiful harvest later this year. We've been told that patience is a necessary virtue both in life and with growing mushrooms!