The Gift Model: September Workday 2015

Living in generosityWD_9.5.15_Photos-021_-_Stephen_with_machete_-_zoomed_in.15_Photos-039.JPG

How often do you give without any expectation of reciprocation? We all have needs like food, water, shelter, love and friendship, recreation for which many of us might be willing to barter, exchanging goods or services, but bartering still involves an upfront exchange, you give something and you get something. The Gift Model takes it a step further: you give your time, talents, and things as generously as you can without assumption of receiving something back and because others do the same your needs are met as well. 

Living in the current economy and culture that we do trying to live the gift model sounds brave to me, you are putting a lot of trust into other people. Nick and Heather Bartow are the brave souls who are living the gift model right here in our own community.

Permaculture designers, Nick and Heather, joined us at our September workday and told us a little bit more.

Nick and Heather Bartow

When you give generously, without expectation, "it creates a void," Nick explains and though there may not be a clear line between what you give and what you receive or who you give to and receive from, your need will be met.

At the workday they put theory in action as they lead us in planting more of our food forest, beginning first with a demonstration on how to propagate comfrey and mint.WD_9.5.15_Photos-006_-_Nick_teaching_comfrey_propogation_-_long.15_Photos-007.JPG

We propagate plants to spread a certain plant or variety. With mint and comfrey we used cuttings of the roots to spread them.

First we chose a well established comfrey plant to ensure that it would be able bounce back from the stress we would be inflicting on it in order to spread it around.

OKCG kids help choose a healthy comfrey plant

 Then we dug up half the plant.

Nick and Heather with the comfrey
Bedell sisters with chocolate mint we are
also propagating using the same method

We cut the roots into finger-sized pieces.



OKCG member Stephen sharing comfrey roots

And planted them throughout the food forest. Watering them into their new homes.

Comfrey is a wonderful plant that builds healthy soil, acts as a great green mulch, and is a great addition to compost or compost tea. Some varieties of comfrey will seed themselves as spread like crazy. Other cultivars of comfrey have sterile seeds (they won't grow into another plant) so they only way to spread them is by root cuttings. The later being what we have at the community garden. They have grown vigourously and we were excited to plant more of them.

The comfrey propogation was a wonderful foray into the gift model as our existing comfrey plants were gifted to us last year at the Permaculture Workshop from Turtle Lake Refuge and from Shared Harvest, another local community garden. And once we have an abundance of comfrey, which likely will be next season, we can starting giving root cuttings to other folks who would like some. It feel wonderful to be part of a full circle of giving and abundance!

We planted more of the food forest guilds we designed with Nick's help at the July workday. We planted comfrey and alliums, like chives, onions, and garlic, around the drip lines of our trees, about an arms length out from the trunk (try to imagine a mature tree), to enhance the soil (comfrey) and deter pests (alliums). We also planted a few more currants, service berries, rhubarb, lavender, and horseradish.

Siblings Wade and Ilah showing us where to plant

We also turned our compost pile and added layers of green materials and brown materials. There is no waste in nature, the plants and weeds we pull out of our gardens will be going back into our gardens as compost next spring!


If you would like to learn more about the gift model or connect with the generosity and talent overflowing from Nick and Heather check out their website


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.