Peeping in the Brooder Box Issue #6 – April 11, 2012


After a great April 1 kick-off with the seed-saving workshop (photos below), the next three reskilling workshops are coming up this weekend:

  • Making Solar Collectors for Solar Hot Water with Dean Fenton- Buffalo Run Road, Bellefonte – 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 – 3 spots left
  • Soap-Making with Nellie Bhattarai – Friends Meeting House – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 – 4 spots left. Overview of class: Soap-Making
  • Lasagna Mulching Raised Beds with Jackie Bonomo – Friends Meeting House Community Garden – 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 15 – 17 spots left.  Overview of class: Lasagna Bed Building & Planting
  • To sign up, call 237-0996 or email

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The next kid-friendly Spring Creek Homesteading potluck at the State College Borough Building (Room 201 at 243 South Allen St.) will be Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m. Featured idea this month is “Seed-Sharing.” If you’ve got packets of seeds or seedlings you won’t be planting this year, please bring them along. And if you want to try growing some new and different things this year, come browse the assortment and take some home for your garden.


(From Jackie Bonomo – – Report on Penns Valley Learning Garden Permablitz held on April 7, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the American Legion in Millheim PA (photos in slide show above):

“Twenty-eight people participated out of 36 who signed up, with an additional four children and interested visitors who checked in throughout the day. Together, we dug seven swales (sized 4 feet wide by  about 6 feet long and 8-12 inches deep) and sheet mulched about three-quarters of the 30 foot by 90 foot area. Limited straw supply slowed process some. We then dug holes and planted five fruit trees, two elderberries, six currants and much of the polyculture around the lower sweet cherry tree, as well as about 25 arborvitae windbreak trees.

Lunch – prepared by Julie Mason – was fabulous!

Educational components included a site orientation, an introduction circle, safety overview, permaculture principles, information about swales, tree and bush planting, sheet mulching and polyculture/guild associations. At the end, we gathered up the tools as people prepared to leave, and cleaned up the site, and then had an ending circle. The next day, we sent out a feedback survey and several informational handouts, for participants to print out the info and return the survey.”


(From Sarah Potter) – “We will have our next meeting on Wednesday, April 18th at 7 p.m. at the State College Borough Building, 243 South Allen St. There are few people whose schedules conflict with this date/time, but this was the best for all involved.

Agenda for the meeting: 1) Look at survey data and case study tables; 2) Discuss how we will use the survey and case study data to guide our next steps; 3) Identify writer(s) for a 500-word column about the survey results and next steps for food co-op team. This article would be due by May 20 and run on the CDT Sustainable Centre County page on May 31.

Please RSVP to if you’d like to attend, because the space I reserved is suited to 20 people or less. I am hoping to set a regular meeting time (3rd Wednesday or something like that) so that it will be easier to organize each month and can be scheduled in advance. Thanks!”

(Resource link from Charlie Kain) –  “[There’s] a new food store opening up in Austin, Texas. Basically, it’s a zero packaging store, which means everything is either bulk – you bring your own container – or fresh from local farms…I think a packaging-free co-op would be a radical and amazing statement coming from State College residents, considering it is a “food desert” or at the very least a “healthy-food desert.” ”


The building and grounds committee at the State College Friends Meeting House recently approved the plan for the 2012 growing season. We’ve got new fencing and four large round bales of switchgrass (thanks to Andy Bater at Fifth Estate Growers for the delivery!) already.

We’re still gathering framing boards, cardboard, old newspapers, old hay/alfalfa, compost, and woodchips to build new raised beds in the upper section and sheet mulch and lay out the lower section for weed control. I’m headed to the Rebersburg auction this Friday to see about old hay/alfalfa, and Josh Lambert (Spring Creek Homesteading president) is planning a T-shirt sale fundraiser to help pay for some of the planned improvements.

Mindful of “slow and steady,” I’m planning to putter at the garden – bringing supplies; pulling weeds; removing old fencing and debris; installing the new fence, gate, signage; laying sheet mulching, etc., at random times during the week, and on the following upcoming Saturdays.

  • Saturday, April 21 – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (This is also the Friends Meeting House congregation’s work day)
  • Saturday, April 28 – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 5 – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 19 – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you’re interested in hanging out and helping renovate the garden, feel free to come putter along. I’ve also reached out to Nick Gildow, the community service coordinator at the SCASD Delta Program, and he said working at the garden counts toward meeting students’ volunteer hour requirements, so middle/high school kids may be helping out at those times too.

We have a particular need for help designing and installing an irrigation system that would bring water down the hill from the Meeting House to the garden, with some kind of spigot fixture that conserves water/prevents water waste. If you’re a plumber or engineer interested in helping with that, please let me know (


We’re talking with Ernest Boyd – operations manager at the State College Food Bank – about helping set up a tool library for food bank clients who grow food in their home gardens, and possibly helping Woody Wilson at Home Grown Farms install small raised beds for those who are interested in gardening but don’t yet have a garden to work in. More later as this project develops.

News from Creation Care Coalition of Centre County

(From Cricket Hunter) “Creation Care Coalition of Centre County invites you to a program on Wednesday, April 18, featuring Ruth Donahue of Interfaith Human Services. She will tell us about the essential work this organization (formerly Interfaith Mission) is doing to help those in need in our community through grants and services.  She will also describe an exciting new program that will pool the resources and skills of our congregations in Centre County to help low-income families use energy more wisely and help them to weatherize their homes.  Our help is needed! Please pass this notice on to those who are interested in community outreach and those who are on green teams or environmental committees. All are welcome.

Wednesday, April 18, dinner line opens at 5:30, program runs from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 205 South Garner Street, State College. RSVPs to are appreciated by the kitchen team, but not necessary.  If you have dietary needs or preferences, please bring a bag dinner and join in the fellowship. Childcare (with a Christian emphasis) will be available.”

News from Penns Valley Conservation Association

  • Annual Stream Bank Cleanup – Saturday April 21, 2012,  9 a.m.- noon; Meet at Coburn Park a little before 9 a.m. Potluck to follow. Let’s clean up some JUNK!  The litterbugs have been at it again this past year…
  • Second Annual RIVERSONGS FESTIVAL – Sunday April 22, 3 p.m.  to 7 p.m. (Click on the link to see the beautiful poster.)

News from New Leaf Initiative

(From Eric Sauder) – “New Leaf Initiative is hosting a donor dinner on Thursday, April 26 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Spring Mills. Information and registration. Among other topics, we’ll be talking about several ongoing projects:

  • PSU Student Farm – There’s a farmer about six miles from the University Park campus who expressed interest when I talked to him about gradually transitioning a portion of his industrially-cropped farm over to an intensive vegetable/permaculture operation. A young couple is working on a proposal to the farmer, planning to organize the farm with a living-learning model similar to the Dickinson College Organic Farm. I spent a week visiting the Dickinson farm and was really impressed by the learning opportunities for college students, especially the on-farm living component.
  • Living Wall – We have a student-led team working with Keppy Arnoldson to build and plant a living wall in downtown State College. The team, a group of Community, Environment & Development students, engineers, and landscape architects, felt that a living wall would be a valuable visual and physical example of the movement toward a more sustainable society.
  • Supply Chain Maps – Another team has been creating supply chain maps of food.”

For more information about these projects and how to get involved, contact Eric at

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