Sunday, May 23, 2010

Meditation/Medicinal Herbs/Permaculture Garden

Sharing with you our latest attempt at designing the area west of the community garden, where we are planning to implant a garden meant for meditation and gatherings for workshops and activities. One of the activities I was excited to start is happening this Thursday, full moon, may 27th at 7am. For about an hour I will guide participants through a series of exercises of yoga, chi kung and simple dance exercises, according to my own experience and practice. I will lead these morning gatherings every Thursday until June 17th.

We will keep on working on the design of the garden. Comments and critiques are welcome! We already have a few reservations ourselves. For example, the amount of work a rounded raised-bed figure would ask for is most probably considerable. Also the cost of materials... Which makes me think of hexagons! I was just reading this excellent comic book on honey bees, called Clan Apis by Jay Hosler, and it described how the cells in a comb are of hexagon shape for the most efficient use of space... But then again, I don't think we want a filled up space, but an efficient use of our materials. To be continued...

Here's a portion of the Mary H. Brown fund application that we submitted concerning the meditation garden... which is now called the permaculture garden to promote the practice of peri-urban permaculture:

Part of the Project is centered on creating an outdoor space where students and the community in general can peacefully enjoy ways of living with the land. An opportunity to slow down from a busy schedule and contemplate life as it unfolds in a garden designed specifically for meditation and medicinal plant cultivation. It is now an established notion that chronic stress is more a cause of depression than acute stress (McGonagle, 1990). In response, meditation and mindfulness techniques have been used successfully to alleviate chronic pains (Rosenzweig, 2010). Gardening has also made its noble letters at the Douglas Hospital in contributing to mental health. Designed with permaculture principles, the garden will be visually pleasing, key words being “curves” and “simple”, and will use organic and biodynamic practices to ensure proper growth and pest management. Raised beds will ensure the accessibility of the aging population. Activities will foster engaging human relations (Wills, 2009), body and breath awareness as well as gardening skills related to medicinal plants, planning, design and mushroom cultivation.

   1) First and foremost the Meditation Garden will improve access to a quiet and intimate outdoor space where one may simply sit and enjoy the calmness around and observe within. Regular group led activities of yoga, tai chi and dance will coherently support meditation practices by focusing on learning how to take care of our mental health through movement and sitting meditation.

   2) Consequently, MSEG’s influence is with education and outreach. The Meditation Garden will act as a demonstration of permaculture on the McGill, Macdonald campus. It will also provide opportunities for research into methods of sustainable horticulture, experimental and hands-on learning, while connecting academic knowledge with the environment and local community. The garden will be available for use as an eco-teaching tool for courses at the University. Support from university professors already exists and can be integrated into the projects plans, along with potential research topics. By reaching out to students and professors from different disciplines and the community, MSEG will aim to create awareness about native and non-native medicinal plants and mushrooms. Honours thesis and independent project research on medicinal plants and mushrooms, supervised by professors, are amongst the examples of student independent research projects suggested on last year’s Student run Eco Garden.

   3) The sharing of knowledge through workshops, lectures and meetings, as well as the organization of volunteer and tour groups from both the downtown and Macdonald campuses, and also the local community, is a vital part of the project’s intention. Experience has shown that by directly exposing students to the issues surrounding their health  nourishes a much greater understanding of the natural resources which provide it, and also the holistic aspect of agriculture. 

In the future the MSEG will coordinate activities with the Macdonald Food Systems Project (MFSP) to provide herbal teas and mushrooms produced by students from the Meditation Garden.

Last Wednesday I went to an information session created for the interns at Carya and Zephir farms. Graham Calder was there to present the basic underlying principles of permaculture. He aslo spoke of his Urban Permaculture Design Course happening this summer (see which seemed quite interesting. Hopefully some of our members will go and come back to share the good news! 

1 comment:

  1. yo excited for this!
    amazingly inspiring initiative
    ill be there shortly to bring some energy :)