Ever since I completed my Permaculture Design Certificate, I’ve been searching for ways to engage the public on Permaculture garden design and various environmental topics.

I did some consultations, started writing articles, and gave workshops on topics ranging from seed saving and sprouting to no-trash challenges for school kids. I’ve been studying herbalism, foraging, and fermenting, taking photographs during all of my projects and experiments. I met other permaculture teachers and practitioners in person and online, and some of them told me they too were struggling to find their niche in the environmental and Permaculture movements. We formed a small women’s Permaculture group and discussed ways in which we could make a difference and a living.   

Two of the women and I thought it would be a great idea to make a Permaculture calendar and sell it.

We began brainstorming: should we make a wall calendar promoting permaculture principles, with seasonal planting schedules and pictures of pretty gardens, or one with discretely photographed naked people, like the ones that some fire departments have done? Or perhaps one with lunar phases, explaining how to use the lunar calendar when deciding when to plant seeds and seedlings? Full of enthusiasm, we made lists and more lists, but after some preliminary work the project stalled, and to be honest, when I thought deeply about it, does anyone need yet another calendar? At the end of the holiday season, most households have accumulated a small pile of calendars; I’ve usually collected at least three wall calendars by the end of each year, and while I try my best to use the pictures from my old calendars as wrapping paper, most of them still end up in the recycling bin. The production of a wall calendar just seemed wasteful.

At the time that the calendar idea was beginning to fade, a friend suggested that I make Permaculture greeting cards instead.

They could be seasonal, with recipes and tips included, with the advantage that they could be sold year after year, not discarded as unusable when each year ended, as always happens with old calendars. These cards would never become out of date. One could buy an Autumn card at any time of year, arming oneself with a little knowledge about Hawthorns or Autumn garden chores ahead of time. Finally I had a use for the ten thousand photos stored on my computer! I began working and soon had drafts for more than a hundred cards.

As I worked, I got lots of helpful criticism from a graphic designer friend: ‘that photo is dull’, ‘that one’s too dark or blurry’, or ‘that’s not your best picture of that’ were frequent remarks. And thank God she made those comments! She helped me develop my eye for design and photography, and while we worked, it soon became apparent that I also have a lot of wonderful photos of my cats, as well as a few of our rabbit. A new idea was born, and I started designing cards featuring those lovely felines and the silly rabbit, getting yet more help from my friend. 

Tashi, the kitten whom we found abandoned at one week of age, has turned out to be especially photogenic. And huge! He’s an endless source of entertainment for us. His catty housemates, Poppy and Angela, are more dignified, and they have their own Instagram account: poppy_and_angela. Tashi sometimes makes an appearance there. Lola the rabbit has proven harder to photograph, as she is always moving.

She nibbles constantly, and I love to watch rabbits nibble.

bunny

It seemed too simple to just put a cat or a rabbit on the front cover of a card and leave it at that, so I added smaller photos on the backs, sometimes with a literary quote about cats, and sometimes with a simple caption. I may add more information about each cat in future cards, or even resources for spaying and neutering strays. More to come as I continue to learn.

I want my cat cards to be more than just a pretty picture.

I want all of my cards to be lush and colorful.

Besides the obvious reason, that it looks nice that way, I hope my cards will make the buyer fall in love with the earth and its denizens. A single rose can be jaw-dropping in its beauty, a poppy opens up a new world when one looks closely at it, and a wall of yellowing Japanese maple leaves salves the soul. A beautiful cat showing off can get one’s day off to a happy start.

It is my hope that the buyer will learn what she can forage (ethically) in her own backyard, making her a little more food secure and sustainable in her meal choices, or giving her tips on how she can help her local pollinators.

Perhaps the buyer can start to see the world in a slightly new light. Dandelions are actually beautiful and nutritious; roses are edible, easy to clone, and useful in herbal medicine; and pets are not only delightful, but sometimes a boon to the gardener (the rabbit makes wonderful manure for the garden)! 

There are three series of cards – Permaculture Garden cards, Cat cards, and Flowers cards.

The Permaculture cards are seasonal in nature; one card features an ice covered tree on the front, with a recipe for a countertop cleaner using needles from a dried out Christmas tree on the back. Another card shows a bee on top of an Elecampane plant on the front cover, a summertime event, with some medicinal uses for Elecampane listed on the back. Cards with Autumn leaves on the front have a caption on the back explaining why it’s a good idea to leave the leaves lying about. Spring cards have tulips or daffodils on the front, with an explanation of the value of Dandelions on the back. If we recognize more uses for these “weeds”, we’ll spray less herbicide, and we’ll save ourselves some work weeding. While I want the buyer to simply enjoy the picture on the front, I also hope the information on the back is helpful. Eventually, I’d like to add QR codes with links to videos or articles (mine or someone else’s) to the backs.

The Cat cards explain themselves, and the Flowers cards celebrate the beauty of flowers. One card depicts a single rose on a table at dusk, conveying a feeling of stillness. On the back is another photo, with an explanation of how to clone roses, or what you can do with rose petals and rose hips. Another card shows Poppy the cat sniffing at a bouquet of flowers; my idea here is to encourage the buyer (or the end recipient of the card) to do the same. 

I think we can all benefit from a few moments of peace, of being drawn into the incredible splendor of a rose, or stopping to smile at a graceful and humorous cat or a nibbling rabbit.

I want everyone to fall in love with the planet, its fauna and flora, because when we love something, we protect and fight for it. Our Beloved is under attack. I hope that by celebrating her, I am encouraging you to fight on her behalf.

Please visit the shop to see which cards are available.

Thank you!!!