Looking Back, Looking Forward

At a time when many are eagerly awaiting the end of a tumultuous year, we're taking a few minutes to reflect with gratitude on the highlights of 2016 here at The Riverside Project. 

Let's take a look back at some of this year's best moments...


March 2016

Participants in a community "permablitz" work together to create a swale designed to catch and store rainwater.

Read more about it here.


April 2016

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We hold the first Infinite Yield Business Intensive, helping entrepreneurs design more regenerative businesses. 

Learn more here


June 2016

Over 100 people join us at Riverside for the first annual Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence.

Listen to Joel Glanzberg's opening address here.


September 2016

We launch our first semester of Riverside Nature School, an outdoor preschool program.

Click here to learn more.


November 2016

Riverside Nature School is featured on the Driven 2 Educate podcast with Linda Buchner.  

Listen to the interview here.


As 2016 draws to a close, The Riverside Project is looking ahead to a new year filled with exciting opportunities for learning, collaboration, and community building. 

Here's a preview of what's to come in 2017...


Our cozy log cabin is now on airbnb


Spring Session: Riverside Nature Club

April-May 2017


2017 Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence

June 17, 2017


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

PERMABLITZ: Swale Building

The Permablitz crew with the finished swale. 

The Permablitz crew with the finished swale. 

This past weekend we held our first Permablitz - a free, informal gathering where people come together to build community, have fun, and learn skills related to permaculture through hands on projects. 

Our goal for the day was to create a raised bed on contour (a swale) to catch and store rainwater, helping to minimize runoff and increase organic matter and fertility in the soil.

We started with a quick overview of permaculture ethics and principles.

While any good permaculture-based project will include elements of many different principles, swales offer a particularly good example of Principle 2: Catch and store energy. This principle teaches that by developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.

As any gardener or farmer could tell you, water is one of the most important resources there is. We're lucky to live in an area where water is fairly abundant, yet too often we rely on the hose for watering our plants, when instead, with a bit of advance planning, we could have captured and stored rainwater to use instead. One way to catch and store rainwater is through the use of rain barrels or cisterns connected to downspouts. Swales offer an even better alternative. By using simple earthworks, we are able to catch and store water directly in the soil, making it immediately accessible to the plants that need it, and building soil quality along the way. 

So what exactly is a swale? It's a shallow trench, dug on contour, with a berm on the downhill side. Because it is placed on contour (pictures lines on a topographic map), each point in the swale is completely level and perpendicular to the slope of the ground. Unlike typical drainage ditches, which serve to funnel water off the property as quickly as possible, swales slow the flow of water, allowing it to spread out and infiltrate deeply into the soil. The berm on the downhill side of the swale serves as a raised bed, fully watered by the water caught with the swale.

The first step in installing our swale was to find the contour line that we would dig along using an A-frame level. This is a simple process that can be done with basic homemade tools: this video gives a great overview of the process. 

With the contour line marked, we proceeded to dig out the swale (roughly 1' deep x 2' wide, with a 3' wide berm on the downhill side). We had planned to add some compost in to the berm to prep it for planting, but the soil we turned up was so rich and full of worms that we decided to skip the compost. 

Once the swale was dug, we worked to make sure the bottom was as level as possible to ensure even water spread, created an overflow channel, and smoothed over the top of the berm and edged it with rocks to prep for planting. 

Projects like this are really perfect for Permablitzes. With one or two people, it would have taken a significant chunk of time, but with a dozen of us we were done in just an hour and a half! It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and we wrapped up in time to enjoy good conversation over a pot of chili. 

Although we didn't have time to do any planting during the Permablitz, we did get a start on the planting process later in the weekend. 

Since our swale is located on the slope below a very old house, we assume there's at least some degree of lead contamination in the soil. For that reason, we're steering away from planting edibles (with the exception of a fig tree, since convention holds that any lead taken up by fruit trees is captured in the wood).

Instead, we're planting a variety of perennial plants with a focus on visual beauty and pollinator habitat. In addition to the fig tree, the bed will contain elderberry, lavender, echinacea, tansy, calendula, and red clover.

To protect the bare dirt from rain and wind while these plants are getting established, we mulched it with a layer of straw. 

We've now had our first rainfall, and the swale is doing it's job! In the picture above, you can see how the water has collected in the swale and is slowly infiltrating in to the ground. 

We're looking forward to seeing how things grow in the swale this season, and given our success with this first installation, we're looking ahead to adding additional swales on the slope below the house to further combat our runoff issues. 

Interested in joining us for future Permablitzes? SIGN UP for our newsletter and LIKE us on Facebook so that we can keep you in the loop!

Winter at Riverside

A few snapshots from the winter...

Winter storm Jonas dumped close to 40" on us! This picture was from midway through the blizzard, with just about 2 feet on the ground.

 

The farmhouse sure is cozy with a blanket of snow.

 

Blizzard aftermath

Blizzard aftermath.

 

Scout appreciates having a plowed driveway to play on after too many hours cooped up inside!

 

Scout and I decided to try our hands at tapping black walnut trees for sap. 

 

When it hasn't been snowing, we've been enjoying lots of misty mornings. 

 

Our tree tapping was a success! We enjoyed a Sunday morning pancake breakfast with our first batch of black walnut syrup. 


Looking Back, Looking Forward

To say that 2015 was a big year would be an understatement. 

At this time last year, The Riverside Project was just starting to take form.

Now, one year later, YOUR support has allowed The Riverside Project to begin its evolution as a powerful community hub and learning space. 

Let's take a look back at all we've accomplished...


August 2015

The Riverside Project hosts a 9-day timber frame workshop, culminating with the raising of a stunning timber frame pavilion.

Click here for a video recap. 


September 2015


Scott Mann joins us at Riverside to facilitate a permaculture round table conversation, which he records for two episodes of his podcast. 

Missed it? You can listen in here.


October 2015


The Riverside Project hosts the first annual Revolution Why, a retreat for millennial changemakers who aren't afraid to challenge the status quo. 

Click here to learn more.


November 2015


We take on Project Local Thanksgiving, sourcing all the ingredients for our Thanksgiving meal from within a 30 mile radius. 

Here's how we did it.


As 2015 draws to a close, The Riverside Project is looking ahead to a new year filled with exciting opportunities for learning, collaboration, and community building. 

Here's a preview of what's to come in 2016...


Riverside is coming to airbnb

Starting May 2016


Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence

June 18, 2016

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Revolution Why 2016

September 23-26, 2016


Happy New Year! 

#ProjectLocalThanksgiving Accomplished

In my last post, I wrote about our decision to put a new twist on this year's Thanksgiving celebration.

As an expression of gratitude for the food that nourishes us and the farmers who produce it, we sourced almost 100% of the ingredients for our Thanksgiving meal from within a 30-mile radius of our home (the exceptions being salt, pepper, cinnamon, and baking powder). 

Here's a look at how we did it:

Homegrown salad greens and pickled golden beets with toasted squash seeds from Tudor Hall Farm Market and Shepherd's Whey Creamery goat cheese.

Homegrown salad greens and pickled golden beets with toasted squash seeds from Tudor Hall Farm Market and Shepherd's Whey Creamery goat cheese.

Roasted Green Gate Farm brussels sprouts with crispy Tudor Hall Farm bacon and local chestnuts. 

Roasted Green Gate Farm brussels sprouts with crispy Tudor Hall Farm bacon and local chestnuts. 

Cast Iron Skillet cornbread with Tudor Hall Farm cornmeal, Rainbow Hill Organic Farm eggs, and South Mountain Creamery milk and butter. 

Cast Iron Skillet cornbread with Tudor Hall Farm cornmeal, Rainbow Hill Organic Farm eggs, and South Mountain Creamery milk and butter. 

Roast ducks from Rainbow Hill Organic Farm.  

Roast ducks from Rainbow Hill Organic Farm.  

Roast Tudor Hall Farm potatoes with homegrown parsley, chives, and rosemary. 

Roast Tudor Hall Farm potatoes with homegrown parsley, chives, and rosemary. 

Tudor Hall Farm acorn squash stuffed with Green Gate Farm garlic rosemary sausage and local apples & onion. 

Tudor Hall Farm acorn squash stuffed with Green Gate Farm garlic rosemary sausage and local apples & onion. 

Pumpkin custard made with Tudor Hall Farm pumpkin, South Mountain Creamery milk, Shade's Farm honey and Rainbow Hill Organic Farm eggs.  Baked local apples with local chestnuts and Shade's Farm honey. 

Pumpkin custard made with Tudor Hall Farm pumpkin, South Mountain Creamery milk, Shade's Farm honey and Rainbow Hill Organic Farm eggs. 

Baked local apples with local chestnuts and Shade's Farm honey. 

We feel so fortunate to live in a place where we're surround with such an abundance of incredible local produce, meat, and dairy. Just one more thing to be thankful for this holiday season!

Things are going to be a little different this Thanksgiving. Here's why.

There will be no marshmallows atop our sweet potato casserole this Thanksgiving. No cranberry sauce on our table. No French wine in our glasses. 

If you're feeling sorry for us, stop. While we may be taking some liberties with the traditional holiday menu, we won't be sacrificing any of the delicious decadence of a Thanksgiving meal.

What we will be doing is sharing a meal that is as good for our bodies, our community, and our planet as it is delicious. 

How?

By eating locally. 

As an expression of gratitude for the food that nourishes us and the farmers who produce it (and in the spirit of embracing quests), I'm embarking on a quest of my own: Project Local Thanksgiving.  This year the ingredients used in our Thanksgiving meal will all have been produced within a 30-mile radius of our home. 

Think I'm crazy? Here are 3 reasons why a local Thanksgiving makes sense:

1. Local food is good food

Good food depends almost entirely on good ingredients.
— Alice Waters, Chef & Owner of Chez Panisse

Eating locally is hands down the easiest way to ensure that your diet is simultaneously delicious, healthy, and ethical.  

When the majority of your diet is comprised of local food sources, you're highly unlikely to be consuming many processed foods or chemical additives. What's more, eating locally is by nature eating seasonally, so what you're getting is practically guaranteed to be fresh and flavorful (unlike those sad, tasteless grocery store tomatoes).

2. Local food supports local economies

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.
— Anna Lappé, Author and Educator

When you buy local food, you support local farms and businesses by putting money into the pockets of real, hardworking people instead of faceless corporations. You also have the opportunity to see firsthand where your food is coming from and confirm that the farmer is using practices that align with your ethics - whether that means free-range poultry, grass-fed meat, organic produce, or fair wages for farm workers. 

3. Local food is ecofriendly

Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles....If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.
— Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

At this point most of us are familiar with the idea that our dietary choices have a profound impact on our carbon footprint. No matter how healthy your diet may be, if you're relying on food sources shipped in from half a world away, you aren't doing the environment any favors. Whatever your dietary preferences are, sourcing your food locally and eating with the seasons will help reduce your carbon footprint.

Ready to go local?

Aside from all the logical arguments I can make in favor of local food, there are emotional factors at play as well. Simply put, there is something magical about eating food raised within miles of your home, by people you know, on farms you have visited. It is an experience the feeds both body and soul. 

So yeah, I might be a little jealous of all you New Englanders who can rightfully claim cranberry sauce as a local dish. But mostly I'm just excited.

I'm excited to spend the next month on a quest for the most delicious local food I can find. I'm excited to stretch my culinary imagination and learn some new skills (grinding my own cornmeal can't be that hard, right?). I'm excited to visit local farms and markets and get to know my community, and my bioregion, in a more meaningful way. And, when all is said and done, I'm excited to sit down and eat a really damn good meal, surrounded by the people I love.

If any of that sounded exciting to you, too, then I hope you'll hop on the Project Local Thanksgiving bandwagon. And if you're not ready to go all in, thats just fine. How about a modified approach. Go for a 50 or 100 mile radius instead of 30. Or ensure that ONE ingredient in each dish (e.g. the apples in your pie or the rosemary in your stuffing) is sourced locally. However you do it, you'll be nourishing more than just your body this Thanksgiving. 

. . . 

Click here to check out our Thanksgiving menu and be sure to share your own local Thanksgiving journey with the hashtag #ProjectLocalThanksgiving. 

Revolution Why 2015

This past weekend The Riverside Project had the privilege of hosting the first annual Revolution Why, a retreat for millennials who are passionate about challenging the status quo and questioning their relationships with work, health, food, and other people. 

The weekend included workshops on deliberate living, entrepreneurship, permaculture principles, plant-based nutrition, herbal medicine, and deep listening as well as opportunities for skill sharing and community building. Participants enjoyed delicious vegan meals courtesy of chef Izzy Darby of Veganizzm, dug deep into their yoga and meditation practices with Julia Hanlon of Running on Om, and learned how to apply their unique skills and passions to do profitable work from coach and speaker Greg Faxon

Our 2015 revolutionaries came from around North America, including 8 states and Canada. Together, we co-created a beautiful and meaningful experience and built connections that will last for years to come. 

We are already eagerly awaiting Revolution Why 2016— sign up for the Revolution Why email list at www.revolutionwhy.com to be the first to know when the early bird pricing is announced!

Permaculture Round Table

Last month Scott Mann of The Permaculture Podcast joined us at Riverside to facilitate a permaculture round table discussion with four local permaculture practitioners: Nicole Luttrell of Deeply Rooted Design, Jesse Wyner of Liberty Root Farm, Ashley Davis of Meadowsweet Botanicals, and Diane Blust of Chicory Hill Farm. The panelists touched on a wide range of topics, from their own personal relationships to permaculture to their broader understandings of permaculture as a movement. At the end of the conversation, audience members joined in with their own insights and questions for the panelist. 

Listen In:

The Riverside Project Round Table (Part 1)

The Riverside Project Round Table (Part 2) 

Timber Frame Workshop: Raising Day

Day 9 was pure magic. 

The crane arrived at 10:30 AM, and the final piece was lifted in to place shortly before 5 PM. Friends and family joined to watch the raising. The sense of pride, accomplishment, community, and teamwork as we watched the final piece get fitted in to place is impossible to describe.  

Prepping for the crane

Prepping for the crane

Team safety huddle before the crane action begins

Team safety huddle before the crane action begins

James and Katie watch as the first bent is lifted into place

James and Katie watch as the first bent is lifted into place

Getting the placement just right

Getting the placement just right

James and Pat get the post into place

James and Pat get the post into place

Al shows off his raising day attire

Al shows off his raising day attire

Second bent gets lifted into position

Second bent gets lifted into position

Paula & Storm make sure everything is aligned 

Paula & Storm make sure everything is aligned 

It's starting to take shape

It's starting to take shape

Storm & Dan place some temporary supports

Storm & Dan place some temporary supports

The crane hoists a wall piece

The crane hoists a wall piece

Katie, Bill, and Dave fit in a wall piece into place

Katie, Bill, and Dave fit in a wall piece into place

Looking better and better

Looking better and better

Time for some scaffolding

Time for some scaffolding

Bob takes a break with his sippy cup

Bob takes a break with his sippy cup

Time to get a little higher

Time to get a little higher

Half of the scarf joint gets lifted in to place

Half of the scarf joint gets lifted in to place

Passing up a brace piece

Passing up a brace piece

No shoes, no shirt, no problem

No shoes, no shirt, no problem

Third bent gets raised

Third bent gets raised

James helps out with some last minute adjustments

James helps out with some last minute adjustments

Now that's a beautiful piece of wood

Now that's a beautiful piece of wood

Ready for the final piece

Ready for the final piece

Fitting the time capsules into place

Fitting the time capsules into place

There she goes

There she goes

Scarf joint comes together 

Scarf joint comes together 

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

She's a beauty

She's a beauty

The team

The team

Timber Frame Workshop: Days 6, 7 & 8

Day 6

Day 6 started off strong, but work was cut short when a storm rolled in.

Kerri and Katie, hard at work as usual

Kerri and Katie, hard at work as usual

Paula begins oiling 

Paula begins oiling 

Moving pieces this size requires strategy and lots of teamwork

Moving pieces this size requires strategy and lots of teamwork

More oiling

More oiling

Everyone hurries to batten down the hatches as the storm rolls in ...

Everyone hurries to batten down the hatches as the storm rolls in ...

... except for Katie, who rescues an abandoned piece of banana bread. 

... except for Katie, who rescues an abandoned piece of banana bread. 

The crew takes advantage of the bad weather to venture out for dinner in Shepherdstown 

The crew takes advantage of the bad weather to venture out for dinner in Shepherdstown 

Day 7

Day 7 found the crew a bit behind schedule, but the power of Australian Timber Oil fumes helped everyone power through.

Kerri perfects her technique 

Kerri perfects her technique 

Katie oils brace pieces 

Katie oils brace pieces 

Power sanding to prep for oiling 

Power sanding to prep for oiling 

Paul joins the effort and helps Dave with some sanding 

Paul joins the effort and helps Dave with some sanding 

Dan, Katie, and Storm work together to reposition a post

Dan, Katie, and Storm work together to reposition a post

Bob enjoys his afternoon goblet of iced coffee

Bob enjoys his afternoon goblet of iced coffee

Our fearless leaders

Our fearless leaders

Al works to fit one of his organic pieces

Al works to fit one of his organic pieces

Bodger, official workshop guard dog

Bodger, official workshop guard dog

The ladies demonstrate what 7 hours of Australian Timber Oil inhalation will do to you

The ladies demonstrate what 7 hours of Australian Timber Oil inhalation will do to you

Day 8

Day 8 was our last big push before the crane arrived for raising day. 

Morning huddle

Morning huddle

Al's vision finally comes together - and it's a beauty!

Al's vision finally comes together - and it's a beauty!

Greg gets his chisel on

Greg gets his chisel on

Bob demonstrates technique 

Bob demonstrates technique 

Paula double checks Greg's work

Paula double checks Greg's work

Jon's ready to hammer

Jon's ready to hammer

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Paula makes a butterfly friend

Paula makes a butterfly friend

Coming together

Coming together

Checking for adjustments

Checking for adjustments

Group sanding effort 

Group sanding effort 

Matt joins the fun and gets a face full of sawdust 

Matt joins the fun and gets a face full of sawdust 

We wrapped up day 8 with some down to the wire, after-dark timber oiling and celebratory drinks around Al's fire basket. 

Timber Frame Workshop: Day 3

More sun, more sweat, more celebratory end-of-work-day beer. Day 3 was good. 

Al measure brace pieces

Al measure brace pieces

Pat gives Katie a lesson on the Wood-Mizer portable sawmill...

Pat gives Katie a lesson on the Wood-Mizer portable sawmill...

And then Katie takes the reins!

And then Katie takes the reins!

Look at that wood!

Look at that wood!

Dave chisels out a mortise 

Dave chisels out a mortise 

Kerri prepares to cut a mortise

Kerri prepares to cut a mortise

Looking like a pro with her mallet and chisel!

Looking like a pro with her mallet and chisel!

Katie assists while Paula drills a peg hole

Katie assists while Paula drills a peg hole

Pat, Katie, and Bruce have a team huddle

Pat, Katie, and Bruce have a team huddle


Timber Frame Workshop: Day 2

The weather heated up for day two of the workshop, but the team powered through the sun and sweat and made great progress.

One highlight was seeing the scarf joint (used to connect two "sticks" end to end) come together:

Paula cleaning up one half of the scarf joint

Paula cleaning up one half of the scarf joint

Greg uses a chisel to even out the other half of the scarf joint

Greg uses a chisel to even out the other half of the scarf joint

Bob makes a plan for fitting the scarf joint together

Bob makes a plan for fitting the scarf joint together

It took a group effort to move these heavy "sticks" into place

It took a group effort to move these heavy "sticks" into place

Almost there...

Almost there...

Success!

Success!

The day also included lots and lots of chiseling:

Dan hard at work

Dan hard at work

Katie cleaning out a mortise

Katie cleaning out a mortise

Kerri and Paula get into their chiseling groove 

Kerri and Paula get into their chiseling groove 

As well as some fun power tool action:

Katie rocks the mortise saw

Katie rocks the mortise saw

And plenty of measuring and discussion:

Al works on an organic brace piece

Al works on an organic brace piece

Bruce and Bill discuss design

Bruce and Bill discuss design

By the end of the day, we were able to see the joinery starting to come together, and the crew had more than earned their evening beer :)


Timber Frame Workshop: Day 1

Yesterday we kicked off our Timber Frame Workshop beneath sunny skies. With our team of experienced framers - Pat, Bob, Al, and Bruce - leading the way, we jumped right in to tasks like laying out and cutting our bents (cross sections of the structure) and wall plates, punching mortices (mortice and tenon joints are used to join timbers), and drilling peg holes. Already, a sense of community is developing amongst our crew, which includes seasoned framers and total novices, locals from down the road and out-of-towners from places like Wisconsin and New Jersey. We're excited to see what the next 8 days will hold!

The team reviews design and layout

The team reviews design and layout

Bob and Pat review measurements

Bob and Pat review measurements

Moving wall plates into position

Moving wall plates into position

Greg helps keep the team hydrated 

Greg helps keep the team hydrated 

Bob marks out a mortice 

Bob marks out a mortice 

Bruce and Paula prepare to cut a scarf joint

Bruce and Paula prepare to cut a scarf joint

Dave and Dan drill peg holes

Dave and Dan drill peg holes

Greg, Katie, and Kerri measure out cuts on a wall plate

Greg, Katie, and Kerri measure out cuts on a wall plate

Dan hones his chisel skills

Dan hones his chisel skills

Katie finally gets to use a power tool!

Katie finally gets to use a power tool!

Kerri drills a peg hole

Kerri drills a peg hole

Dan and Jon use chisels to clean up some mortices

Dan and Jon use chisels to clean up some mortices

Al uses his Woodmizer to prep some brace pieces

Al uses his Woodmizer to prep some brace pieces