Goodheart’s Upcoming Cooking Class

April 7 – 12, 2013 at the John C Campbell Folk School

“Everyday Yumptious Slow Foods”

Yumptious Foods!

Yumptious Foods!

Join Andrew Goodheart Brown for a fun and amazing week of Natural Food cooking, including wood-fired artisan breads, pizzas, & foccacias as well as delicious and healthy everyday slow foods.
Although our focus will be primarily vegetarian and organic whole foods, the week will include some dishes with local, natural raised meat. We will visit the gardens and harvest spring offerings: planted and wild.  We will experiment with fermented foods like real sauerkraut and salt pickled vegetables. Finally, we will create some truly yumptious desserts (such as pies and flan).

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Body BRR-R-R’s: Orchard AH-H-H’s

After a short-lived warm and comfortable spell, winter is upon us, this first day of spring. Though I write from beside our hearth, and am so thankful for it’s centering warmth, my orchardist-self is happy too for the unseasonably cold weather.

Winter was mild with just enough cold fronts to keep Barefoot Permaculture’s orchard dormant past the “first flowering” dates of last years’ disastrous  early flowering  (followed by 2 hard frosts later in the season).

With last weekends’ 70 degree (F) temperatures, the orchard continued it’s stirring and wakening. The buds of Chojoro (Asian) and Moonglow (European) Pears showed the first serious signs of budbreak: these are among the earliest of our fruits to flower.
IMG_0804                                                    Chojoro Asian Pear Breaking Bud

I took yesterdays’ last warmth opportunity to initiate my first (thereby, trial run) of four Holistic Spring Orchard Sprays, from Michael Phillips’ “The Holistic Orchard”.  (The sprays include the following all-cold processed ingredients: 100% Neem oil; liquid whole fish (Hydrolysate); liquid seaweed; Effective Micro-organisms (EM1); Blackstrap Molasses, and bio-degradable liquid dish soap (as an emulsifying agent and sticker).

The trunks, branches, and buds are sprayed past the point of drip-off (so the ground beneath receives the spray). As a trial run, I learned that my 4 gallon backpack sprayer will handle 3 trees. This means I can expect to mix 4-5 batches for each of the 4 sprays.

There will be more to report on this in later postings.

This frigid weather, and the next week of below normal temperatures, should work to slow down budbreak of the rest of the orchard (perhaps for a few more weeks).

Microclimate Holding Light Snow Cover

Microclimate Holding Light Snow Cover

At Barefoot Permaculture Gardens & Orchards, located in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, the timing of the last killing frosts and orchard flowering is always at best, a very delicate dance…



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8th Annual Permaculture Design Course



 Maya Mountain Research Farm in southern Belize

Join Albert Bates, Andrew Goodheart Brown, Christopher Nesbitt, and Nicole Foss,( co-editor of The Automatic Earth) for the 8th annual Permaculture Design Course at the Maya Mountain Research Farm in southern Belize, during the dates of 18 February through 1 March, 2013.
Check out youtube video: Permaculture Course MMRF

For More Info, Contact Christopher at info(a)



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Twenty Two Elf’s Last Days

Goodheart Enjoying a Winter Squash Pie


How strange, and how natural, that after a delightfully prolonged, pleasantly moderate autumn, (with an unusually late frost kill date of 20 November) the first day of winter produced the first wintery day. Winter has been with us since!

The jet stream is dipped strongly southward. This day’s high is predicted to be 37 degrees F. A good day to connect with the activities of hundreds of thousands of generations of elders and ancestors: sit by the fire, and have a seasonal “slow down”.

Our workhorse wood stove of the past 32 years, an All-Nighter, has been replaced by a much more efficient and clean burning Jotul 500 Oslo.

The Old, Trusty All-Nighter Wood Stove

With its secondary burn design, we reap the benefits of more heat produced (energy efficiency), as well as a much cleaner burn (ecological efficiency). To our delight, the air wash system does indeed keep the window clean, and we sit mesmerized by the ethereal blue flames hovering above the glowing embers.

Our New Jotul 500 Oslo Wood Stove

The time between Winter Solstice and Christmas is my seasonal baking time. I love baking Panetone, (a sourdough yeasted Italian holiday bread) for my neighbors, friends, and loved ones. This year’s quadrupling of the recipe had me hand mixing 16 pounds of brandy-soaked dried fruit studded dough. Enough to produce six 2 pound “rounds” and seven 3/4 lb. rounds.

Two Pound Rounds of Panetone

Our own, lone loaf disappeared much too quickly. Not wanting to wait another year before we once again taste toasted, buttered Panetone, I plan to take advantage of this cold dark time, revive the sourdough, raise up a dough, and fire up our Irish wood cook stove (a Waterford Stanley).

With our Barefoot Permaculture garden mostly in dormant phase, what better use of my now undemanded time…

                                        A Very Long Term & Powerful Soil Enhancement

One of our permaculture design guidelines is referred to as “stacking functions”. Another way of saying this is “reap multiple benefits from any one action (an outcome of good design).

As an example: I teach 3 different 6 day natural food cooking classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. In all three, I keep the wood fired bread oven in operation, as we make pizzas, foccacias, flatbreads and artisanal breads. These well built and wonderful ovens must be cleared of active embers immediately prior to baking (otherwise, within 2 minutes the loaves are severely blackened).

I remove the embers and place their white-hotness into an outside metal trash can, and immediately quench the embers with water (to arrest any further burning). This gives me charcoal.

The breads we eat!   The charcoal we transmute into Bio-Char! (Bio-Char is one of the most important “discoveries” of the 20th century. (If you are not familiar with the term, google it, better yet, purchase Albert Bates’ “The Biochar Solution”)

Charcoal is very slow to breakdown (in the thousands of years, perhaps). As a carbon soil additive, it’s great. What makes it into Bio-Char is charging it with liquid nutrients, via lengthy soaking. Once nutrient charged, it provides a stable soil fertility for upwards of hundreds -if not thousands- of years.

Charcoal Charging Into Bio-Char

For the charging, we mix a thin slurry of manures, fish emulsion, kelp and other seaweeds, compost tea, urine, and sometimes chopped comfrey and nettle. On average, I soak each 2-5 gallon bucket around 6 months.

Breaking Charcoal into Smaller Sizes

When finished, I separate the liquid by straining. This is biologically and nutritionally rich. We dilute this with rainwater and use as liquid fertilizer.

Low Tech Operation

The charged charcoal gets broken up into smaller pieces (powder is fine), then dug into the top 3-4 inches of soil.

Finished Bio-Char

For an experiment, I used roughly a gallon of bio-char in a 10 gallon pot, and planted a Cherokee Purple Tomato (our own saved seed). The tomato went wild! The largest was 1/2 oz. short of 2 pounds; 8 other fruits were around 1&1/2 pounds; and 10 more were close to 1 pound. Lots of delicious yum!

Bio-Char Experiment Awaiting a Tomato Plant

One Pound 15 Ounce Cherokee Purple Tomato

In addition to acting as a very long term fertility storage, Bio-Char also sequesters carbon in the soil. As scientists scramble to find ways of slowing the release of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, Bio-Char is attracting attention, and will most likely be revealed as a major player in carbon storage.

As an added benefit, we get healthy. fertile, nutrient rich soil. Plants grown in these soils transfer health throughout the food chain.

Talk of stacking functions!

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Desire An Abundant Future?

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Very Local Harvest at Maya Mountain Research Farm

Join Albert Bates and me (Andrew Goodheart Brown) for the 8th annual Permaculture Design Course at the Maya Mountain Research Farm in southern Belize, during the dates of 18 February through 1 March, 2013.
Check out youtube video: Permaculture Course MMRF

For More Info, Contact Christopher at info(a)

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A Time of Harvests, Birds, and Bears

The growing season has come and gone… almost. For the first time in many years, November is upon us and there has been no killing frost: we still have basil, bananas (yes! bananas), figs, nasturtiums, and moonflower in leaf and flower.

Our temperate bananas do not have a long enough growing season to allow them to flower: they do though, grow 12 feet high, and positioned near the west wall of our home, amongst yucca and figs, lend a tropical influence to our site.

Banana Plant Against West Wall

Besides being a lovely presence, bananas are beautiful and exotic. (I was conceived and born in Panama, so they also soothe my spirit)!

Banana leaves are part of Barefoot Permaculture’s harvest, borrowing from the highland Guatemala Mayan’s incredibly delicious tamales (wrapped in banana leaves).

We trim the leaves into roughly 10” by 8” rectangles, which is enough space to allow some grace in sizing the masa. For tying the filled and folded packets, we use strips of Yucca leaves.

Tamale Makings

The packets are steamed for 40 minutes and then are ready to devour. Yum!

Tamale Ready to Wrap

Tamale Wrapped in Banana Leaf, Yucca Fiber Tie

Tamales Upright in Steamer Pot

Tamale Ready For a Feast

Absolutely Yumptious Tamale, Ready for Fork

                                                                            Season of Apples
Last winter’s prolonged, record breaking warmth was disastrous to our regions’ large fruit. Our local commercial apple growers (as well as most home orchards) lost 80-90% of their crop to the last two late freezes, as well as humid conditions favoring fungal and bacterial diseases.

In our east Asheville microclimate, we squeaked by the late freezes, and have harvested a bounty of figs, European and Asian pears, Asian persimmons, and apples.

Varieties of Our Red Apples

Our red apples (Enterprize, Liberty, Limbertwig, King David, Yates) ripened in September. Disease took more than a fair share, yet we still picked more than 3 bushels.

Our Apples: Ready For Pressing

After eating what we could, and having prior experience with their “keeping” limits (even in cold storage), in an effort to reduce perishability, and arrive at a delightful, added value product, we attended a friend’s apple pressing party, put in our shared community labor, and turned our 3+ bushels into 11 gallons of cider.

Finishing Our Community Cider Pressing

By an addition of champagne yeast (for fermentation), we are on the way to 11 gallons of hard cider, which will be ready and available for consuming by spring 2013.

Hard Cider In The Making...

Our favorite apples, Goldrush, are still ripening on the trees.

Diseases, insects, squirrels and birds have reduced our harvest by half: still, we have been eating the “drops” out of hand, as well as baking many Apple Galettes (to the delight of us and our friends).

Apple Galette: First Assembly Stage

Apple Galette: Final Pre-Wrapping Stage

Apple Galette: Ready For The Oven

Apple Galette: Ready For Yumptious Rapture

This post-election week may witness our final apple picking of the 2012 season. We are waiting for a frost to pull up the sugars and amplify Goldrush’s taste complexity.

Our so far, super dwarfed Eureka (Asian) Persimmon’s 4 foot height is bent over, whispering to the soil, with the weight of 31 fruits, also awaiting a hard frost.

A migrating Yellow-Rumped Warbler flew into our kitchen’s sliding glass doors. I picked him up, and Chiwa and I both enveloped him with healing energy. After a few minutes, he perked up, and after a few minutes more, deposited a small packet of phosphate enriched fertilizer in my hand and flew off…

A Recovering Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Since Chiwa is trying to avoid gluten, I’ve been making 100% sourdough Rye Seeded Bread, and although each baking results in two 2&1/2 lb and one 1&1/2 lb loaves, they don’t long survive our enraptured, gustatory attention…

Rising !00% Sourdough Seeded Rye

Fresh From The Oven...

Two late afternoons ago, on my way out to give our chickens an eagerly anticipated snack, my motion was halted by the presence of a large yearling Black Bear, standing in their outer enclosure; wary hens 10 feet away, eyes on this handsome intruder. I alerted China to take down the birdfeeder, and I moved onward respectfully, since mama and a second yearling showed themselves nearby. By this time, the curious intruder moved into their inner sanctum, perhaps after their food bin.  When I kept moving closer, the cub scrambled over the wire fence, joining mama and sibling, and they moved off through our Black Walnut grove. Their coats were thick, sleek, and shiny black…

Bears In Our Black Walnut Grove

Especially with bears, all’s well that ends well…

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Join us at the 8th Annual Permaculture Design Course in southern Belize

Plenty of time for planning!

Dates: 18 February through 1 March, 2013

Instructors: Albert Bates and Andrew Goodheart Brown

Location: Maya Mountain Research Farm, San Pedro Columbia, Belize

Final Transportation: a 30 minute dug-out canoe ride

More on this PDC upcoming…

Contact: Christopher Nesbitt at

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Late-Summer from an Urban Oasis

While much of Turtle Island (the nation) is severely affected by one of the worst droughts and prolonged highest temperatures in recorded meteorological history, in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, it’s been a season of adequate to copious amounts of rainfall, as well as prolonged 100% humidity days.

Cope's Grey Treefrog males calling

This has been hard for our home economy, especially regarding my season for broom making in preparation for the Southern Highland Craft Guild show in October, in which I will show and sell my brooms.

Prior to weaving the broom corn (sorghum) to the handles, they must be soaked for an hour in hot water. Once woven, they need 2 full days of sun for complete drying, prior to being pressed and sewn into the classic broom shape.

Freshly Woven Brooms Drying in the Sun

The high humidity allowed very little evaporation, and with moisture events  every day or so, the tightly compacted broom heads remained moist and began to mold.

This doubles my work, for I must spend a fair amount of time with each broom, spraying it with a water/bleach solution, then dry it further.

At this moment, our living room is full of partially completed brooms, resting against the couch, under the breezy spell of a whirling fan, awaiting a low humidity, sunny day or two, in order to completely dry.

Fan Drying Brooms: Mold Preventative

Much of the summer I have been unable to work on the brooms.

With all the moisture and humidity, mosquitoes are abominable! Since Barefoot Permaculture is heavily vegetated, besides being an Urban Oasis, it also creates much mosquito habitat.

Any of the frequent times I venture into the garden orchard, swarms of small, light colored, fast moving mosquitoes rise all around me, trying to find blood from any exposed skin.

Holding a berry bucket in one hand, reaching the other deep into a blackberry thicket or blueberry bush for a most desirable specimen, seem to be a good time for a loudly whining blood sucker to intuit the coast is clear, and fly onto my face in search of a fountain of youth.

Shiitake Galore!

Mid and late summer harvests are abundant: several varieties of heritage tomatoes (from saved seed); two flushes of Shiitake mushrooms; sweet, red Carmen peppers (the only hybrid plants we bring in); red, ripe Jalapenos; Blue Hopi Corn (for grinding into meal); late lettuces; nettles, long Oriental eggplant; red noodle beans; several varieties of still growing, heritage winter squash (saved seeds); and Black-Eyed Peas.

Yummy Harvest!

Chiwa Not Waiting for the Kitchen

One issue in being an urban oasis: the accumulated food sources are a niche that nature takes advantage of. Birds, squirrels, raccoons, possums, groundhogs, and occasional bears are attracted to the rich bounty, and can wreck havoc upon ones’ fruit dreams.

Birds devastated the un-netted berries: wineberries, raspberries, blackberries, and most sadly, elderberries. With all but the elderberries, we were able to pick enough to feel satisfied. Of the elderberries, we were hoping to have enough to make some medicinal syrups to see us healthily through the winter season: the catbirds though, had other plans, and devoured them while still unripe.

Some squirrels decimated our usually abundant Moonglow pear, until nature took advantage of the abundant squirrels and greatly lessened their numbers.

Many of our apples are heavily loaded with fruit, in spite of 3 thinnings. Three trees had to be pulled and held upright by ropes: several others are balanced and standing on their own.

Our most abundant apple trees, Goldrush (our very favorite apple) which, fortunately, we can grow organically, are heavily laden and not ripe until the first week of November. Until then, much can happen.

Goodhearts’ Orchard Rule #11 (as noted in the previous posting) tells us not to “count” the harvest until its in the basket.

Still, I am licking my lips and beginning to salivate…

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Mid-Summer Tales from an Urban Oasis

Never in my 37 years of living in western NC, have I come close to experiencing the prolonged, high heat of the past month! At Barefoot Permaculture, we have never come close to feeling we needed an air-conditioner.

Around Asheville, our nights cool down to the 60’s, yet several recent nights in a row had me rummaging in the attic for a larger fan to supplement our ceiling fan. That, and sleeping naked on top of the sheets, allowed a comfort that kept me from considering an a/c.

Our mid-summer figs ripened beautifully, 2-3 at a time. All 60 made it without animal loss. The catbirds, in particular, flew into and out of the fig trees several times, yet didn’t appear to realize these greenish yellow fruits were not going to darken with ripeness.

Mid-Summer Medicine in the Making

With only 1/10” of rain for 4 weeks, and temperatures in the upper 90’s, I set up “weeper” hoses for the Blueberries and Blackberries. Most of the other plants I watered by hand.

In spite of 20 years of adding organic matter to our growing areas, the plants were holding their own while growing in what appeared to be organic matter —flecked concrete. Amazing!!

Blackberries are Yum! And still coming in. Blueberries are green, just beginning to think about darkening. A small number of bushy-tailed tree rats are parasitizing our Moonglow Pears, as well as Goldrush Apples.

Honeybees are rocking, and Cope’s Grey Tree Frogs have produced 3 different egg clusters over 1 &1/2 months time. The males outside our window are still singing enticements at night.

Broom Handles

It’s broom making time. I am down to just several sweepers, and the October Southern Highland Craft Guild show is a deadline not to be ignored. (it sounds as if I have plenty of time, yet all the stages of making a top notch broom take time: finding, cutting, smoothing and sanding the handle; grading, sizing, clipping, and soaking the broomstraw, weaving the softened stalks, drying for 3 days, then pressing and sewing the “head” into the familiar, flattened, functional form).

Beginning The Weave

Freshly Woven Broom Heads

My  year fills up, with events scattered throughout, and surprises always appearing. I have to take the broom time whenever I am able. Once I actually begin, I deeply love working the wood and weaving the fibers into such functional beauty!

                                                                    Upcoming Permaculture Design Course Plans (2013)
Jamaica (for Jamaicans) in January
Southern Belize in February (more later)!

Human-Scale Access to Belize PDC



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