Novus Community House Spring Work Day

Welcome to the Novus House!

As an intentional community, we at the Novus Community House have a work day once every three months so that we can all work together on maintaining the garden and working on other projects. This year, we put the call out to the rest of the people who often come over for our Tuesday night potlucks and anyone else who was interested in lending a hand, and in addition to the four current residents, we also had seven of our other friends come out to help us accomplish our goals. This is a recap of what we finished in our day of community collaboration.

Don and Tracie wondering where to start.

Last year in the Spring, we mulched almost the entire property, and we were due for a fresh load. Our front yard features a raised garden and food forest complete with a sweet potato patch, and it needed a new layer of mulch to keep the soil healthy and nutrient rich for the nearly twenty tropical fruit trees growing there.

Food forest before…

Our chickens and a years worth of people visiting the backyard for music around the fire pit have broken down the mulch we spread last year, so it was in need of a face lift.

Backyard before…

Don called a tree company earlier in the week, and they delivered a truck load of mulch within the hour. If people like us don’t find use for the mulch, the tree companies have to pay to dispose of it, so it’s a really great win-win situation that they get to get rid of it for free and we get to use it for free. Life can be really abundant when you don’t have to make it all about money… just sayin’.

Chris, Don, and Tracie tackle the mulch mound.
Yoga mulching…

Our amazing team of volunteers made quick work of the pile of mulch, and we had it demolished and spread in under two hours! The food forest got a nice layer of mulch, as did the backyard.

Team Novus: Garden Avengers
Food forest after…
Backyard after…

But we didn’t stop there. We also planted a new elderberry tree from which we will be able to make syrup to help us through any colds we might face. We also potted a few volunteer mango trees that had started in the forest, and a few papaya trees that had started in the aquaponitarium. We’ll give these to our friends so that we can have more fruit trees growing in the Sarasota area.

Our new elderberry!
Volunteer mango and papaya trees ready for a new home.

Of course, those aren’t the only plants we want to spread around. For awhile, we’ve been envisioning a place to grow plants from seed so that we can give them to our friends and get more gardens growing throughout the community. Don had a plan to repurpose this aluminum frame and some extra shade screen we had, and now we have a working plant nursery.

Our nursery needed some work.
Don, Sunny, and Justin get the shade screen in place for the nursery “roof”.
Plant nursery improvement
Seedlings have started!

Since we also want to make good use of the water we freely get from Florida rains, we also installed another rain barrel. This is the third rain barrel we have added to the house. We now have one out front for the raised garden, one out back for the butterfly garden (both of which were installed on our winter work day), and a new one in the front to water the vineyard, pineapples, and blueberries in the side garden.

Our first rain barrel
Tracie installs our third rain barrel.
Our blueberries are going to enjoy the new rain barrel.

We set up a small vineyard last year to grow muscadine grapes, but our friend Maynard has had a vision for how to make it better for awhile. So this workday, we let him go hog wild, and we think it’s going to be a great improvement when they start to bloom.

Our extended vineyard is ready for growing!

As another side project, we’ve also been turning our pool into a pond. We have fifteen goldfish in there so far, and I’ve been starting to add aquatic plants to help filter the water and absorb the nutrients. The plan is to use a pump and feeder hose to use the water from the pool to grow food in baskets. It’s a work in progress, but we’re hopeful.

Pots prepared for aquaponics
The pool to pond project has begun…

Even though we accomplished a lot, we’re really thankful that nature is also doing so much for us. With about seventeen different fruit trees out front, it’s a wonderful thing to see them blooming. Currently, we’re starting to see fruit from our avocado tree, our two mango trees, and our banana circle.

Baby avocado
Mango season is coming!
Bananas in bloom

By the way, if you don’t have a banana circle, in my opinion, it may just be one of the best features of our yard. Not only does it continually reproduce and start new banana trees so that we get bunches of bananas every year, it also helps with clean up. The branches of any other trees we trim just go into the circle and become food for bananas. It keeps us from having to throw a lot of yard waste out by the side of the road to go to a landfill.

Banana circles will eat anything you put in.
Our bananas get a Buddhist blessing.

And of course, our front yard garden provides us with all sorts of great treats! Currently, we’re growing two kinds of kale, collard greens, carrots, squash, and other delicacies.

Our garden

Huge thanks to Mark, Maynard, Jeannie, Justin, Roger, Chris, and Andrew for coming out to help our community grow!

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