Barnraising in the Crest Neighborhood: the Laurel Hedge Party
Members of the NLCCS decided that doing “barnraising” projects for each other would serve a couple of good, green purposes. First of all, increasing connections between people is one of the basic tenets of sustainability, because you are more likely to survive and thrive if you know your neighbor (and which neighbor has water, which one has beans, which one has a chainsaw). Secondly, our committee works hard and has an ambitious work plan. You get a lot more done in a committee if the people in it genuinely care about each other and cooperate well as a team.
The second barnraising project was done at my home here in the Crest neighborhood. The weather wasn’t the best, but even so, eight people braved the rain and chill to help cut back my enormous mountain laurel hedge.
I’m a “newbie-permie” with a lot of plans but little money and time. I didn’t get a very good yield of vegetables last year, and I thought it was because I didn’t put enough work into the garden. But then I realized that over the years, the neighbor’s hedge has slowly taken over about six horizontal feet (and even more vertical feet) of my yard and has been casting a nice, thick shadow on my raised bed. Time to create more light! However, the estimate I got from a professional landscaper was $450. This project seemed like a likely candidate for a barnraising.
It is utterly amazing how much got done in just a few hours. Not only is my hedge tamed, but I also have a weeded garden as well as the knowledge that I have a few nice native plants that have been hiding in the dark (an Indian plum for one) as well as some poison oak.
We ate white bean chili and sampled some biscuits I made from some locally-grown wheat. Katherine’s daughter Lucy helped cut them out, so all ages participated in this event.
We’re hoping to put together some kind of instructional guide on how to do a successful barnraising after we’ve held a few of them. One thing that would be good is a tool inventory beforehand to avoid duplication as well as a site evaluation. Not all jobs are equal. There was a lot of work on the hedge for people with ladders and long loppers, but not a lot for the “ground-bound”. If we had evaluated other things to do, people could have brought other tools.
But all in all, it was an inspiring event that was so inspiring, I keep going out onto my deck to assure myself that it actually happened. It may not have been a “real” barnraising, but there is probably enough mountain laurel wood here to build something, if not a barn.
– Kathy Saranpa
Co-Convener and Crest rep