Welcome to Sycamore Commons!
Located within the traditional territory of the Tla’Amin First Nation, Sycamore Commons is an ecumenical community permaculture partnership taking place on the grounds of St. David’s and St. Paul’s Anglican church in Townsite, Powell River.
The vision of Sycamore Commons is to create an abundance of fresh healthy food, biodiversity, beauty, learning and social connection available freely to all. By transforming the church grounds through permaculture, we are rooting ourselves more deeply in the ecology and the community of this place.
Through Sycamore Commons we are also responding to our fifth mark of mission and baptismal vow which asks us,
“Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation,
and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?”
Sycamore Commons began in the fall of 2011 when Powell River permaculturalists Erin Innes and Ron Berezan created an agreement with the parish council of St. D&P to teach a full 80 hour permaculture design course (PDC) in 2012 out of the church hall. This was followed up by a second PDC in 2013.
Students of both courses worked with parish members and folks living in the local community to develop an overall vision and design for the transformation of the church lands. A partnership was also created with two local Powell River organizations: Skookoum Food Provisioners Cooperative and Transition Town Powell River.
Once designs were in place, the work of physical transformation begun. Students and parishoners were joined by many, many community members over several years in volunteer work bees which have been, and continue to be, our main structure for developing and maintaining Sycamore Commons. These work bees accomplish not only tremendous physical developments but they are also opportunities for learning, community building and fun!
The transformation of tired lawns into thriving and diverse eco-systems of trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers providing food and medicine for people and wildlife has been an exciting journey. And that journey continues to unfold! Since its inception, Sycamore Commons has hosted countless workshops, courses, student groups, special events and outdoor liturgies at the site. New design elements continue to be implemented and new folks are drawn into the life of this dynamic space.
On-Site at Sycamore Commons
Sitting on less than half an acre, Sycamore Commons includes a diverse number of elements all linked together in functional and mutually supportive ways. The key elements include:
Sycamore Commons is grounded in the ethics and principles of permaculture design. Permaculture is a global movement that began in Australia in the late 1970’s and has now spread throughout the world. It draws its inspiration from ecological sciences, indigenous wisdom, systems theory, the organic farming and natural building movements.
Permaculture offers tools and resources to help us create ecological designs for meeting our material needs (food, water, energy, housing, medicine, etc) and nonmaterial (beauty, recreation, social connection, sense of place, spiritual nourishment, etc) in sustainable and regenerative ways. Together we learn how to create abundance for ourselves and for the human and non-human other with whom we share this place.
The three ethical principles of permaculture are:
We strive to have the design, the development and the on-going functioning of Sycamore Commons reflect these three ethical principles. We are also aware that the biblical ethics of peace, justice and the integrity of creation fit very well with the three ethics of permaculture design.
All people are welcome to share in the abundance of Sycamore Commons. We do not have the site divided up into individual garden plots as many community gardens do. Rather, we prefer to nurture the idea of the commons – those who are able share in the work and nurturing of the site and those who need can harvest from the gardens whatever they require, no questions asked!
Activities at Sycamore Commons
There are many activities throughout the year at Sycamore Commons open to all.
"To garden is to participate in the deepest mysteries of the universe."
Funding and Support
This project has been developed through the generosity of many parish and community members sharing their labour, their vision, their surplus plants and their imaginations. Over the years, we have also received monetary support from First Credit Union in Powell River and from the Care and Share program of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.
More Information or to Get Involved
You are welcome to share in the life of this community permaculture project in any way that works for you. For more information, please contact Rev. Ron Berezan firstname.lastname@example.org (click here for Ron's website) or Erin Innes email@example.com. You can also visit www.permaculturepowellriver.ca.