My name is Peggy and I’m a Master Gardener, out of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Ulster County. I’m currently coordinating a mentor program for the Kingston Garden Bed Project which focuses on food security as well as the emotional benefits of gardening in this era of social isolation. I devote additional Master Gardener hours to working in our Xeriscape demonstration garden at SUNY-Ulster and to responding to calls that come in from the community via our free hotline.
Although I have been involved with earth care and sustainability in various capacities, both professional and volunteer, for decades, Permaculture was not on my radar until I decided to focus on finding broadly accessible, sustainable gardening techniques for my final presentation to my Master Gardener training class. Inspired by techniques such as hugelkultur, herb spirals, mutual support guilds, keyhole gardens and forest gardens, I backed into the contextual framework of Permaculture, its ethics and principles, and, most importantly from my perspective, its scalability. I have been trying to learn all I can about it ever since.
My personal gardening efforts began with a novelty desktop aquaponic system in which I somehow managed to grow a 4 ft. high basil in my living room in Manhattan. I was captivated! Combined with my professional interests as an interior designer, I began working toward developing a system that could be retrofitted into a standard kitchen cabinet and enable anyone to grow nutritious food at home. By the time I had three dozen culinary plants in my apartment to test their “indoor viability," I realized that my interests had traveled full circle. I was more than willing to leave NYC and kitchen cabinets behind for a life in the country where I could focus on gardening.
The home I found is on 7.5 acres bordering on Beaverdam Creek in the rural hamlet of Olivebridge, NY. Located within the NYS designated Catskill Park in the Catskill Mountains, a good portion is NYS Forest Preserve and much of the balance - including about 6.5 acres of my own property - is still retained by homeowners as private forest. Living organically and in harmony with the environment has been a strong ethic here since the early 1900’s. I feel very fortunate to have found this community.
I am looking forward to getting much more immersed in Permaculture, and getting to know what is already promising from these introductions to be a most interesting group of classmates.