December 2019





Greetings all!

Another good year wraps up here at Motheroak, meaning helpful younger people, excellent crops so lots of food, healthy livestock, and lots of learning as well, with myself definitely included!

The young couple that were here for almost 1.5 years, Alex Ritchie & Amanda, headed back to Ontario in November- it was a good team and i much appreciate them. Another young couple coming in April, so it looks like we shall ride again on the market cropping road, permaculture style of course!

My studies around death & dying last year, complemented more recently with studies around trauma(both personal&collective) and trauma healing have deepened&widened my perspectives, and are a welcome integration into my permaculture understanding, and i think strengthening to it. Personal & collective resilience, along with regenerative land practices more important than ever given the chaos “out there.”

Using the boat metaphor(one of my favorites), I’d say we have an increasingly massive hole(climate change)taking in water, and a very serious fire in the engine room(economic-it’ll be a shocker), while the sails  are looking increasingly tattered and our survival supplies are rough and depleting(the biosphere). And though we really can’t know what exactly will happen next, it seems a good idea to keep the lifeboats ready & the life jackets handy & your swimming fitness strong. Otherwise, to quote Jamie Wheal, you may become just another drag & liability on others. Not such cheery comments, i know, especially for the season, but hey- just calling it as honestly as i can.

There is cheer however, accessible every moment of every day, which resides & manifests in the goodness within us and between us- AS the creative and healing and abundance and mystery of nature- just drop the clouds of distraction & see it shine.

May 26 2019

Spring! And another belated update…we are well here, everyone enjoying our moments, and being tested a bit by the cool wet weather being delivered. As the artiic continues heating and the jet stream fluxes with somewhat predictable results, north america faces more & more the consequences of an over scaled & hyperdeveloped mode of habitation on our lovely Earth, it seems. Permaculture, i would say, is more needed & relevant than ever, offering as it does alternative modes of said habitation.

And as ever, the most significant & helpful(i think) transformation needed is not in external design, but within ourselves- mind, body & spirit. And yes, it’s happening, and whether some critical mass of such transformation- a realization of our connectedness to the larger whole of nature-happens before we collectively hit a wall, fall of a cliff, sink in a swamp or incinerate the globe with nukes remains to be seen obviously. Time for each of us to do our part perhaps? Without delay?

To be continued…..

November 2018

2018 another year of flux and change, both defining and testing our resilience, it seems. Chaotic weather- a serioud late frost,livestock problems- losing our prime milk goat, crop losses- some carrots to excessive rain, cabbage to porcupines etc, relationships made and lost-some longer term live in help now, which is so helpful and vital to the flourishing of this place, and the ending of a couple partnership, sadness welcoming the early winter,and a great deal of learning. And yet all vital functions continue with apparent health, and ongoing gratitude for the many gifts and positive outcomes. My own energies and focus are redirecting(partially anyhow) to deepen my understanding of death and dying, of grief and grieving, of gaining skills for home funerals, and to exploring/ creating/ adopting new to me ceremonies and rituals in service of those.

Meanwhile the quiet time of winter is welcome, allowing time for much needed rest and reflection and semi-hibernation. I will try to be more timely with updates.

We do still have space to host singles or couples wishing to visit and explore collaborative possibilities.

A very active time…a good(tho smallish) hay crop in the barn, garlic ready to be pulled, veggies and weeds booming with some much welcomed summer rain, tree crops coming abundantly, our 3rd generation flint corn liking the intense heat, and not quite enough hands to keep up with it all as we are feeling our ages (61 & 65) more these days.

Our beautiful Mother Oak.



Fare thee well AshleighAnn!

IMG_20171104_080547188IMG_20171123_152233928Among one of our most passionately inspired, fun, and very helpful and competent volunteers, Ashleigh and her wonderful family are, alas, moving to Ontario.

Besides leaving behind a trove of work well done, you’ve gifted us with fond memories and for me personally, a sense that the changes and permaculture advocacy we work towards here at Motheroak are worthwhile in their influence; i’m confident you’ll have a multiplier effect.. You already have!

So good bye and good luck dear Ashleigh Ann, we’ll always remember your genuine smile!

Motheroak site tour–Oct 22, 2017

We are pleased to offer another intensive site tour– Sunday, October 22nd, from 9am to 4pm. Alex will lead through an in depth look at landscape and infrastructure, how things have evolved over the last nine years since roll out, and some of what we’ve learned. We will provide a light lunch, with plenty of time for discussion, Q&A, and wandering around. Registration is limited, so please apply early. Fee is $25. Per person, $40 for couples. Location is 1217 Belmont Rd Hants county NS.

RSVP alexdenicola(at) hotmail.comIMG_20150917_172351505

July 2017

Finally an update! Evolution/ adaptation continues here at Motheroak. We now have Shane, a former intern, moved in as a permanent resident–the beginning of community!. Though we were expecting a couple, his partner got cold feet as they say, and so it goes.

Repurposing the end of the building into a comfortable year round living space has been ongoing since January, and the bulk of the work is done(pics). I look forward to a break from construction, rewarding tho it is.

Spring was a bit colder and wetter than usual, but reasonable enough given the possibilities. Strawberries and honeyberries have come and gone, and now we’re enjoying raspberries, greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes, and the ongoing greens from the gardens. The Apple trees had a very low fruit set, tho the pears and peaches are quite abundant. This drives home the point once again that diversity is critical to food crop resilience. Our two cows and young bull are doing well on the slowly improving pastures, as are the goats. The meat and milk certainly help sustain us.

We also put up a bumper hay crop early in July, so I’m grateful for that!
The garlic harvest is the next major task coming up, meanwhile we are processing firewood and trying to keep up with the weeds, tho our scale of cultivation remains small– less than an acre.

This is the first year in since 07 that we’ve taken no interns,.and it’s good to see that the place is manageable with just three of us.

Most likely we will host a tour/ workshop in the early autumn, and internships again next year. Stay tuned.IMG_20170614_164426139IMG_20170312_102515337IMG_20170610_153049073


February 2017 Update– Seeking one intern

Much has happened here at Motheroak since the last posting, and I’m pleased to report that along with my partner Katarina and a fun and productive PDC internship program that culminated in our new bath house addition, we have a young couple who will be joining us in living here later in the spring. The beginning of community– long awaited– very timely, and good news indeed! Welcome Shane and Emilia!

Due to the construction project and other evolutionary type changes here this year, we will not be offering the two month PDC internship this summer, though we do have an opening for one cheerful, committed, and willing worker interested in learning permaculture through osmosis and hands on work. Please contact Alex ASAP if this interests you.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting photos of our renovation/ repurposing of the building to accommodate our new community members, and much more as well. Please stay tuned!

Bath house


Finally back online!

As you may have noticed, this site has been inaccessible for at least a couple of months. Thanks to our Dreamhost web hosts, our infection is cleared up(for now). The June/ July PDC internship program is full (5 sign ups) and we are looking forward to another growing season. While we were down i actually created another site at, though for now it is mostly just photographs.

I will in early summer be posting an update on how we’ve faired thru the winter, and hopefully before long a new page detailing our own permaculture design roll out, and how we’ve seen the regeneration arising from that. pond3north