Two weeks ago, I wrote about the challenges of researching construction materials, and the yeoman’s work being done by Bob Burnside, Amanda Webb, Ben VanGessel (and now Eric Harrington; thanks, Eric, for joining us!).

I sadly overlooked one of our greatest champions in this process: Jane Hughes, our interior designer (Organizational Designs). We enlisted Jane’s help after we’d been at this project for quite some time, but she dove right in and has more than caught up with the rest of the team. Her knowledge and experience have been invaluable in helping us refine and finish the design process, and she has completely grasped the need to source products close to home and to avoid those 600 red-list chemicals. I’ve said several times over the past few months, “I don’t know what we’d do without Jane.”

Of course, the deeper truth is that we don’t know what we’d do without any of the members of our Living Building Challenge team. So many wonderful folks have shared their wisdom and expertise over the past 3 ½ years . . . “Thank you” is hardly enough.

One week ago, no blog post appeared here, since Tom and I spent the weekend at a permaculture workshop at a farm near Manchester, led by Mark Shepard of New Forest Farm. Combining classroom learning with in-the-field work, Mark taught the workshop participants about water management for perennial agriculture systems. We spent lots of time with laser level and flags, marking swales which were then bulldozed and shaped.

Weekend workshop in Manchester, MI, with Mark Shepard

Weekend workshop in Manchester, MI, with Mark Shepard

Tom and I have talked for some time about connecting with someone such as Mark Shepard, to help us start on the permaculture farming part of our Beacon Springs undertaking. Over the course of last weekend, we talked with Mark about our project, and were then able to meet him at our property on Monday morning, before he began his drive home to Wisconsin. Shannan Gibb-Randall, our landscape architect (Insite Design), was able to join us, grading plan in hand. Mark asked questions and gave us initial thoughts on overall water management and swale design to coordinate the house construction area with the rest of the 15 acres. He took the drawings with him and will work first with Shannan on design drawings, and in the spring, in person, on our land, guiding us in executing his recommendations.

Meeting with Mark Shepard, late August

Meeting with Mark Shepard, late August

So yet another amazing and expert member has now been added to the team – what good fortune for us! With Mark’s help, our dream of helping feed some hungry folks will move more quickly to reality.

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