- Associated Press - Thursday, July 3, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Not far from Lake Monroe is the hard-nosed, disease-resistant Asian pear tree. The tree sits in a row of plants and neighbors the nitrogen-rich false California indigo, the heavy pollinator foxtail lily, the nutrient-rich lamb’s quarter and many other non-native plants.

This little community of supportive species sits in one of hundreds of rows of plants in Bread and Roses Nursery, a sanctuary of biodiversity adjacent to the Hoosier National Forest.

“I think what we’re doing is honing in on functional diversity,” permaculture enthusiast Jonas Carpenter told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1oroluy ). “We’re benefiting the ecology of the community. What we do is a lot of fun.”

Carpenter, 28, along with partner Salem Willard, 30, both fell in love with permaculture growing principles years ago. Today, they run Bread and Roses Nursery and Gardens, a completely off-the-grid permaculture operation.

The biodiversity aspect of permaculture helps address recent issues in contemporary growing, Willard said.

“By having greater diversity, we’re ensuring that more can survive,” Willard said. “We’re creating a sanctuary for an ark of genetic diversity, which is really important for the future.”

Willard bought the property in the Will Holler area of the Hoosier National Forest five years ago. The duo established the Bread and Roses Gardens shortly thereafter, organically cultivating a wide variety of produce. The two started the Bread and Roses Nursery last spring, as an extension of the Bread and Roses Farm.

The location and terrain of Bread and Roses are perfect for permaculture practices, Carpenter said.

“Much to Salem’s credit, this site was a shrubby piece of nothing,” Carpenter said, adding that part of permaculture criteria is to be far from big agricultural farmland. “It’s got a southwest facing slope and is a good place for soil.”

The Will Holler area of the Hoosier National Forest is on the southeast side of Monroe Lake, off of Roberts Road.

“It’s a little close to the road, but that can be good,” Willard said. “It’s a nice piece of land, close to the lake and close to town.”

Permaculture gardens are designed to harvest water by allowing the contour of the land to catch rainfall in soil beds instead of allowing it to run down a hill, Carpenter said.

“Once established, we don’t water them,” Carpenter said. “There’s no need for irrigating.”

However, if there’s no rain for two weeks, they can tap into more than 10,000 gallons of water stored in tanks on the property. In addition to saving water, the nursery operation only uses its own wood for lumber, and solar panels provide the small amount of electricity that is used.

“It makes it more of a lifestyle and less of a job, which is the best part,” Carpenter said.

Berries, fruits and perennial herbs and flowers are top sellers at farmers’ markets, but buyers are interested in the unique, non-native and supportive species that are grown organically, Carpenter said.

“Folks come to us,” Carpenter said. “The reason we started growing some of these is because we couldn’t find them locally or anywhere where they weren’t being grown with chemicals.”

Bread and Roses also sells produce to local restaurants, including Feast, Restaurant Tallent, Finch’s and No Coast Reserve, Carpenter said.

The duo welcomes those interested in permaculture to intern at the nursery and garden. Interns are unpaid, but they are sent home with plants and food. Bread and Roses provides landscaping services for homeowners who want to transform their front or backyards into mulchy, vibrant spots of sustainability.

“For people who want to transition away from mowing the lawn, this work can be really beautiful,” Carpenter said. “Whether you want it to be a corner of your lot or take up the whole lot.”

Simple backyard gardening efforts from growing vegetables and herbs to having a fruit tree can make a huge difference in urban dwellers’ impact on the world food economy.

“Any of those will cut down on the amount that you’re taking from somewhere else in the world,” Willard said. “You’re teaching yourself a skill, too. You’re enriching your life in general.”

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Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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