2015 was a fantastic year for L-BEAD! Long-time projects in Central Indiana came to fruition while new ones began to bud promising to branch from domestic to international in 2016. Here’s a glance at the year’s activities from L-BEAD Director, Amy Rhodes.
In early February, I received an unexpected phone call from Garden Tower Project inventor Colin Cudmore asking me to demonstrate the new Garden Tower 2 in a series of instructional videos for GTP’s YouTube Channel.
At first, with only a camera as the audience, this felt like a move away from the typical land-based, immersive programs typically designed by L-BEAD. But as an educator with years of experience developing hands-on, experiential learning programs connecting people to the lessons of the land, I quickly embraced the Garden Tower as a gateway to rebuilding human relationships with the natural world. I am thrilled to share the message about this beautifully designed product through as many channels possible!
With the majority of the world’s population living in urban areas and predictions for continual growth, access to nature or even a bit of earth to grow a garden is becoming increasingly more difficult to find. The Garden Tower 2 is a vertical garden with a vermicomposting system that provides users the ability to grow 50 – 130 plants in just 4-square feet! This makes it ideal for urban dwellers and community gardeners to increase volume of production in less space – a beneficial strategy when challenged with food access and security issues.
The first step through the Garden Tower gate is digging your hands in the dirt to produce healthy, organic food. This is successfully being done throughout the United States and Canada in urban settings and locations where soil erosion and infertility are an issue.
In the process of growing in GT2, first time gardeners, school teachers and children, commercial growers, folks of all ages are led down a multi-disciplinary path to participate in acts of:
- Empathy (Watering and feeding plants and worms)
- Problem-solving (Companion planting and pest control)
- Innovation (Building trellises, irrigation systems, growing indoors)
- Conservation (Less water, fewer petrol-produced veggies purchased, decreased food miles)
- Entrepreneurship (Worm casting or farm market business)
Most importantly, when utilizing this first-of-its-kind container garden and composting system, Garden Tower users understand (consciously or unconsciously) the deeper levels of Reciprocity.
Each time food waste is added back into the system a human participates in capturing and feeding the nutrient-cycle. With the potential to grow and recycle nutrient in Garden Towers just about anywhere on the planet, millions of people have access to engage with the fundamental cycles of life right outside their door on a balcony or patio. Imagine the impact!
L-BEAD began its seventh year booking and leading interpretive guided tours of Traders Point Creamery (TPC) – 100% grassfed, USDA-certified organic dairy farm located in Zionsville, IN. Since 2009, L-BEAD has provided guided tours for over 30,000 visitors of this nationally recognized, artisanal Creamery. School groups, parks and rec summer camps, senior citizen groups, chartered tour and travel groups, and national FFA convention attendees are examples of visitors interested in learning about sustainable agriculture and local food at Traders Point Creamery near #Indianapolis.
Tracing the award-winning dairy products pasture-to-table, in less than a mile walk, is an extraordinary experience. Tour participants learn about the “salad bar” TPC’s brown swiss cows like to munch on in a rotational pattern and visit the parlor to view daily milking at 4:00 p.m.
And, on occasion, visitors are stopped in their tracks for an impromptu lesson on the “Power of Poo”. Oh, how they wished I was talking about Winnie-the-Pooh on this hot day in July.
#2 best L-BEAD pic of 2015
Summer brought the continuation of Kids Grow Green at South Circle Farm in Indianapolis. The fourth year of the L-BEAD program was again a success. Designed for 2nd – 8th graders from the nearby Concord Neighborhood Center, KGG annually involves 30 to 40 inner-city kids in growing, tending, making and sharing healthy delicious food. The after-school program begins in May, followed by a summer program June – August, and returns to an after-school program September – October. Check out these kids growing green smoothie mustaches…
Assistant Director, Emily TeKolste, championed the Kids Grow Green program again this year while also managing tours and Summer Farm Camp at Traders Point Creamery. Farm Camp had a record number of 24 campers in one session this year! Emily, along with 3 camp counselors, kept the Growing Farm Hands and Eco-Ag Stewards busy doing farm chores, feeding pigs and chickens, working in the garden, and milking cows.
Emily announced this Summer that she will be leaving L-BEAD in 2016 in pursuit of a different career. She has provided tremendous encouragement and steady support over the last three years as L-BEAD has grown. Wishing you a bright future, Emily! You will be missed.
The closing cycle of the year was bittersweet as the long-time contract with Traders Point Creamery came to a close while exciting new projects simultaneously developed with Garden Tower Project and Oakwood Center.
Here’s my #1 favorite L-BEAD photo of the year marking the last tour at Traders Point Creamery. (You know you’re on the path of right livelihood when children connect arms with you around 300+ years of living history…and thankfully give it a hug.)
September was exciting as I spearheaded GTP’s connection with the International Living Future Institute and the pursuit of the Living Product Challenge. I attended the first Living Product Expo in Pittsburg, PA and had the honor to display two Garden Towers in front of the main stage where world-renowned sustainability influencers such as Jason McLennan, Arlene Bloom, Jeffery Hollender and John Warner spoke to innovative architects, designers, scientists, builders, manufacturers and educators on the cutting edge of the materials revolution.
GTP is now working to have the GT2 certified as a living product, that is, being net-positive (generating more resources than it takes to produce it). Read more about the Challenge here.
Fall also brought forth two new programs at Oakwood Center, Being At Home On Earth and The Baby Picture Project. I assisted in developing and launching these adult community education programs designed to facilitate new perspectives and ways of relating with the fellow inhabitants on our home, this planet. Oakwood Center is a wonderful gem in Central Indiana restoring this core connection, serving as a host facility for multiple arts and ecology retreats throughout the year.
So there you have it! 2015 was a full and exciting year. 2016 is already showing great things on the horizon…Beginning with a Garden Tower Project trip to Nicaragua in January and the release of DIY compost heat recovery videos on YouTube in late-Spring.
All the Best,