From by Chad Upton

Like many kids, I didn’t like vegetables — especially carrots and broccoli. Adults frequently told me that carrots would improve my eyesight, so that seemed like a good reason to try liking them.

There was one person who didn’t tell me this, he actually told me the opposite. My grand father overheard somebody tell me that carrots would improve my eyesight and he let me in on a little secret — it was all a big lie. Carrots do not improve your eyesight.

Sure, carrots and many other foods do contain beta-carotene, which metabolizes into Vitamin A and everyone agrees that is essential for maintaining eye health, but it does not improve it. If you are not consuming enough vitamin A, any number of sources could help restore your vitamin A supply. Carrots themselves are not unique or magical in this way. In fact, carrots have less beta-carotene per 200 calorie serving than red peppers, kale and lettuce.

If lettuce, kale and red pepper have more beta-carotene than carrots, why do carrots get all the eyesight credit?

During World War II, the British were particularly good at shooting down Nazi bombers at night, when it’s almost impossible to see other planes. It was as if they had super-human sight, and they did. They had radar.

Once news stories started to circulate about these pilots with seemingly super-human eyes, the government needed a good explanation to prevent the Germans from learning about this technology. Carrots.

Flight Lieutenant John Cunningham, nicknamed ”Cats Eyes” for his incredible ability to shoot down enemy planes, had a natural love for carrots. The story wrote itself and they explained that they were feeding other pilots a lot of carrots to improve their eyesight too.

Six Day Advanced Permaculture Course with Tom Ward
January 16-21, 2014, Wolf Gulch Farm, Little Applegate, Southern Oregon

Here in a developed industrial empire, the forests are lonely. We have lost our sense of living with forests as friends. This Social Forestry course will explore reconnecting with forests through ecological knowledge, the use of hand tools and woodscrafts, seasonal festivals and work cycles, childrens’ stories, pilgrimages and stewardship covenants. We will learn ecological assessment, carbon sequestration methods, restoration forestry and the crafts and products that can be enjoyed while we are re-establishing our heart space and wonder in the woods.

Social Forestry and Community Forestry are academic and developmental fields that connect villages and communities to their forested water catchment basin. With climate weirding and excessive fuel loads, our abandonment of forest care is catastrophic. Our cities have forgotten that they were built with materials and vernacular flavors that came down river. Our forests have become sources for industrial materials and gold rush like gathering of minerals, game, mushrooms, herbs and specialty woods. We no longer have cultures of forest dwellers and keepers of the game. If a local culture has a relationship with their forest, that community is able to supply itself with a variety of products and a reliable source of clean water.


This course supports our vision of a cottagers’ co-op, stewardship contracts with ecological covenants, semi-nomadic seasonal work patterns and cultural support for a new/old way of being in relationship with our forests and landscapes. We believe that only through building new relationships now can we look forward to a more appropriate and sustainable culture of cities, farms and forests that inspires us all and especially the children to look forward to a future that makes sense and promises a good and glorious life many generations hence.

The Permaculture Design Course is a prerequisite for getting an advanced certificate from this course. Others may have the certificate held until they have a PDC certificate. You must complete all six days of the course to get your certificate. The course is open to all who have a working knowledge of Permaculture.

Cancellation Policy: Until December 28th, fee is refundable less $100 cancellation fee. After December 28, the fee is nonrefundable unless the course fills and we sell your spot. There will still be a $100 cancellation fee.

Course Price TBA
For reviews of the 2013 course click here.

For more information or to register contact us at
To Learn more about Tom Ward and the Siskiyou Permacuture team visit

3 day Workshop Facilitated by Tom Ward, Melanie Mindlin and Karen Taylor
September 20-22, 2013 at Full Bloom Farm, Little Applegate, Southern Oregon

Gain confidence in your design skills with this workshop focused on permaculture site assessment and conceptual design for a local site that includes forestry, farming and residential community. The course starts with an in-depth experience of the way that Tom Ward does an initial assessment of a property during a walk through. Student then explore ways to organize thinking about the multi-faceted opportunities addressed through permaculture on this specific site. Team work will lead to conceptual designs and recommendations for the site.

At this workshop, we will do an assessment of the property, taking a close look at opportunities to increase water infiltration, improve forest health, locate buildings and food growing operations, site a seasonal worker camp, as well as opportunities for animals, waste water treatment, energy production and more. We will explore organizing the site through keyline principles as well as applying zone and sector analysis.


Students will brainstorm a permaculture vision of the possibilities on this land and do rough sketches to document our ideas. The course will finish with a student presentation to the property owners.

This class will be offered at an intermediate level. This means it is suitable for graduates of the Permaculture Design Course as well as people who have either taken at least a one day introductory permaculture course or read one of the basic permaculture books. See list on website.

Course Price $300 includes camp site and lunch Breakfast and dinner made with food you bring. Early registration price: $250 by August 20, 2013

For more information or to register contact us at
To Learn more about Tom Ward and the Siskiyou Permacuture team visit

Advanced Permaculture Course in Optical Surveying
August 5th – 10th, 2013

Basic surveying and layout are essential skillsets for every farmer, homesteader, designer, and consultant. In this 6 day course, Tom Ward will teach the use of many types of analog (non-battery operated) surveying tools, along with advanced skills in keyline, pond and swale layout, mapping, and other core knowledge necessary for design and execution of permaculture projects.

Students will become familiar with swale, terrace, ditch and pond layout, profile cross-section drawing, keyline and trail system locating, solar assessment, ditch and wiggle water way layout, small cabin orientation and pad layout, staking, note taking, and compass and map reading. We will use telescope-like devices and other hand tools such as sight levels, pocket transits, builders levels, A-frames and various vertical measurement rods, as well as measuring tapes and wheels. The course will include flagging for trails, swales and ponds, as well as observations on the landscape with mapping of plants, birds and trees.

This course is an advanced permaculture certificate course. The Permaculture Design Course is a prerequisite for getting an advanced certificate from this course. Others may have the certificate held until they have a PDC certificate. You must complete all six days of the course to get your certificate. However, the course is open to all who have a working knowledge of Permaculture.

There are required tools for this course!
Click here to register and for more information.

To Learn more about Tom Ward and the Siskiyou Permacuture team visit

Soiled Hands will be holding an educational enrichment class for children ages
2-7. at Piper’s Playground in Tumwater, WA, Tuesdays in May at 10:15 AM, weekly.

An introduction to gardening and plant appreciation. Along with exercises in identification of common species and their uses, children will get hands-on experience planting seeds and learning the life-cycle of plants. Included are arts & crafts activities designed to build awareness of the importance of plants.
$45 enrollment fee includes four, 1 hour weekly classes and materials.

    Week 1:

  • “See & Say” plant identification and introduction to common fruits and vegetables, and what
    they look like before they end up in our food.
  • Life-cycle overview covering the various stages of a plant’s growth.
  • Planter decoration – Kids will be provided materials to decorate their own individual seed pot.
  • Planting seeds – Kids will plant seeds to be taken home at the end of the month long course.


    Week 2:

  • Growing up Strong – We discuss what plants need to grow and how we can help.
  • Colorful leaf etching helps us discuss how plants distribute nutrients and energy, and gives kids some art to hang on the refrigerator.
  • We talk about trees and their important role in nature, name a few of our favorites and their distinguishing features.
  • Match fruits and nuts to their respective trees and seeds.


    Week 3:

  • Old McDonald sing-a-long introduces us to animals on the farm and leads to a discussion on how they help fertilize the soil and provide nutrients for plants.
  • We meet our other friends in the soil… Worms & Insects, and discuss their role in helping out.
  • A microscope shows us there is a lot going on in the soil.
  • Construction-paper flower making!


    Week 4:

  • More “See & Say” with advanced plant identification.
  • Dream Garden drawing – What will your garden look like? Arts & crafts challenge.
  • Seed status check-in and review of what went right/wrong.
  • Little Garden Helper certificate presentation.
  • Seed/Planter take home.


To register call Piper’s Playground at (360) 584-9886
For more about our venue visit
Find Piper’s Playground on facebook here.

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The Soiled Hands crew will be celebrating Earth Day, Monday, April 22nd 2013 at Piper’s Playground in Tumwater, WA, providing educational arts & crafts activities for little earthlings wanting to help our planet.

For an event enrollment fee of just $5 for Piper’s Playground members or $10 general public, kids will be provided a small blank planter for personalizing at our decoration station with non-toxic paints and then be guided through transplanting a seedling to take home and care for.

Educational coloring materials featuring local plants and birds will be available, and for an additional charge we will have blank birdhouses that can be painted at the decoration station and brought home to promote wildlife in your own ecosystem. Recommended for ages 2-7.

To RSVP call Piper’s Playground at (360) 584-9886
For more about our venue visit
Find Piper’s Playground on facebook here.

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The Daily Show’s John Stewart examines the passing of the Continuing Resolution with the attached Monsanto Protection Act.

Unbeknownst to most of Congress, the rest of Congress sneaks legislation protecting genetically modified food into an unrelated bill.

“Oh I see the problem here. The other legislators didn’t know about it because Senator Tester brought it up on the Senate floor! IN FRONT OF ALL OF THEM! Perhaps if he had written it in the memo field of a Monsanto lobbyist check people would have seen it.”

Nature on PBS presents a thought provoking full-length documentary opening up a whole new perspective on the lives of plants. From the selective nurturing of offspring and sibling plants to the secretion of chemicals that attract the enemies of predators or inhibit the growth of competitors, Nature investigates how plants interact with their environment and looks at the science that explains their behavior.

When we think about plants, we don’t often associate a term like “behavior” with them, but experimental plant ecologist JC Cahill wants to change that. The University of Alberta professor maintains that plants do behave and lead anything but solitary and sedentary lives. What Plants Talk About teaches us all that plants are smarter and much more interactive than we thought!

For more on this episode of Nature visit

Guest Post and Images by Bill Badrick via

Building a bridge in the 21st century must be done better and differently than it was done in the past. As we develop plans to build a modern bridge over the Columbia River, we must reflect our understanding of global warming and our dedication to salmon preservation. The Columbia River Crossing (CRC) Bridge should illustrate our best design response to difficult conditions. It should be green and multi-modal. It should have light rail, bicycle, and pedestrian service to balance the car and truck capacity. The CRC Bridge will have a massive carbon footprint, and we need to mitigate it with green design.

Sierra Club Green Homes opens up to hear about one simple and powerful way to do this: build a “park roof” on top of the CRC Bridge. The park roof will be a tool to capture the rainfall that would otherwise land on the road surface and mix with the oil and gas that falls off of vehicles. Traditionally, stormwater pollution is expensive to treat—pollution treatment facilities cost in the area of 12 to 15 million. In addition to the facility, a conventional bridge roadway must be made to slope to drains, which fill hundreds of pipes that are routed to the treatment plant. All of these metal drains and pipes cost money and add to the carbon footprint of the bridge. By contrast, the park roof would need only a small gauge recycled plastic pipe sprinkler system that can be powered by solar panels. By capturing the rain fall with the park roof, we can save money—and save the salmon.

The federal government’s recent studies on green roofs, which had previously been predicted to absorb 75% of rainfall, found that they actually captured nearly 95% of the rainfall. Based on these findings, the park roof will save us a great deal of money and improve the carbon footprint dramatically. The CRC park roof will be about 370,000 square feet, and Portland receives roughly 37.5 inches of rain a year. This amounts to almost 14 million cubic feet of water captured and almost $170,000 saved.

From a design perspective, the park roof also promises benefits. The roof will be a curved cap to the bridge, making the bridge a good deal more aerodynamic. This efficient design shape will reduce structural stresses, thus reducing cost. It is likely the savings due to better wind performance will account for the cost of the additional park support frame. Plus, as bridges are engineered to be three times stronger than needed, the additional 23 lbs/sq ft load will be absorbed on the base structure with no additional load cost. It is important to note that the park ‘dirt’ is made of very lightweight engineered growing medium, anchored to a matrix net to make it wind and erosion proof—this is not your grandma’s garden.

The park roof will be a one-of-a-kind, world-class green public facility. It can be the sign and symbol of Green Portland, Green Oregon, and Green Northwest! We love our solar plants and windmill fleets, but they are out of sight, and thus out of mind. The CRC park roof will greet every visitor driving from the north and every airline passenger flying into the airport. The vast arcing park high above the mighty Columbia River will draw green tourists from around the world.

An eco-tourist business is what we should naturally grow—with our stunning natural landscapes, many outdoor activities, and open, progressive thinking. The final icing on the cake to draw this new enormous green travel business is a powerful symbol that clearly represents our green beliefs. The park roofed, multi-modal CRC Bridge can be our ‘Green Golden Gate’—our ‘Green Gateway’ to the Northwest.

About the author: Bill Badrick creates park roof proposals in large pastel artworks to educate and inspire politicians and change-agents to think outside the box when it comes to our large and visually prominent bridges and buildings.

Lindsay Lusher Shute of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition puts it plainly…
“We need a million more farmers.” Listen as she opens the discussion on how to get our nation’s food system back on track and how to secure the tools we’ll need to get there.

Learn more at: