What comes to mind when thinking of sustainability? Those reusable shopping bags are a dandy place to start, but what if the option to go off-grid was within reach? Local activists Nic Botek, Colleen Eldridge and Monika Perry are bringing the future of sustainability to Toledo via The Toledo Permaculture Network, formed by the three friends/ activists to promote their vision.
But what IS permaculture? Per the group’s website “permaculture utilizes the patterns and features of natural ecosystems to design human-made systems that care for people, care for the earth, and redistribute the surplus”
When asked about the motivation and ultimate goals of the organization, Nic Botek explains, “After realizing that many of the projects we’ve been working on, such as the Collingwood Garden and Food Forest and our earthship-style house, have the fundamental principles of permaculture at their core, we decided to form Toledo Permaculture Network to help us organize and communicate our vision for healthier and more sustainable communities.”
One of the group’s current projects— Collingwood Community Garden— brings neighbors together to share knowledge, fresh food and fellowship. By caring for the grounds together, the members of the community have access, and incentive, to learn about sustainability. The group is also responsible for the creation and maintenance of Northwest Ohio’s only food forest, located in the Old West End neighborhood of Toledo. “The Collingwood Food Forest is a model for growing food in an environmentally and economically sustainable way,” Nic told us.
The group’s newest project is the construction of the first Earthship style house built in an urban area. Nic explains the project:
“The design is loosely based on a style of house pioneered in Taos, NM that is completely self-sufficient and made of recycled materials. We will be using wind and solar for electricity, collecting rainwater instead of using city water, utilizing passive heating and cooling techniques for indoor climate control, and growing our own food on site.”
The project, 5 years in the making, pursues the group’s ultimate goal to create an Earthship to engage the community further by sharing knowledge and providing visitors with access to an eco-friendly lifestyle. By combining self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability with food and housing, everyone that visits has the opportunity to learn about and access the tools to cope with climate change.
The group has also partnered with Circle Pines Center in Delton, MI to host an Indigenous lead Traditional Ecological Knowledge workshop, at the end of April, which has also been postponed. Building a small cottage on the property has helped the group hone their building skills as well, keeping to the nature of self-sustainability.
“We are always looking for more ways to teach, learn, and connect with our community and other organizations. We want to be good neighbors and good stewards of the resources we have,” Nic explained.
A ground-breaking ceremony is currently being scheduled. For updates on the ceremony and the project, visit facebook.com/toledopermaculturenetwork, toledopermaculture.org, or sign up to join the email list at [email protected].
Join and follow the Collingwood Garden Facebook page as well to see posted events, workdays, and find volunteer opportunities for special projects. Regular workdays are every 2nd Saturday from noon to 4pm at 2472 Collingwood Blvd.