In a fractured post-pandemic world, monthly ‘permaculture potlucks’ hosted by the Eastern Shore Permaculture Institute (ESPI) have struck a chord with local communities. The potlucks have grown quickly from humble beginnings – a handful of participants in spring 2021 — to more than 50 attendees per month in the fall of 2022. These special events bring together people from different walks of life to share food, learn new skills, and build relationships, with a focus on sustainable land use.
“In a world where our sense of community and belonging has been depleted by a global pandemic on one side and the age of smart phones and hiding behind social media on the other, these potlucks present a unique opportunity to socialize, learn new things, network, and build a community of sustainability-minded folks here on the upper Eastern Shore,” explains Justinian Dispenza, Director of ESPI.
The potlucks are attended by a diverse crowd, including local farmers, artists, professors, college students, musicians, small business owners, homesteaders, nonprofit representatives, politicians, and curious families and community members. Over the past year, the events have been hosted at many different farms, homes, and gardens across Kent County.
“As a young farmer committed to producing food sustainably, the ESPI potlucks have been an invaluable resource,” says Sarah Starman, co-owner of Tavern Creek Farm. “Through these events, I’ve gotten advice from other growers, built relationships, and even met new customers. It really makes you feel like you’re part of a community, and enables you to make more of a positive impact.”
The final Permaculture Potluck of 2022 will be held on Saturday, November 19th, and is open to the public. It will take place at ESPI’s Permaculture Demonstration Property in Galena, MD, from 5pm – 9pm. Activities include a site tour; free pizzas cooked on an outdoor, wood-fired cobb oven; a potluck (attendees will bring drinks or dishes to share); fire spinning lessons; and music around a campfire. Other interesting features of the Permaculture Demonstration Property include a mobile solar dehydrator, a succulent greenhouse, mushroom logs, a demonstration wildflower meadow, a community garden, composting systems, and more.
“These events have been great for connecting the local community together, while learning from each other about ways that we can all be better stewards of our local lands and waterways,” says Zack Kelleher, the Sassafras Riverkeeper with ShoreRivers. “In order to clean up our local environment, it takes a diverse coalition of passionate people fighting every day, and we’re so fortunate to have ESPI in our community to provide an avenue for all of us to get together.
For the address of the potluck or to get on the email list for future ESPI events, reach out to Justinian at [email protected].