Sustainability and Permaculture Update Focuses on Summer Projects and Progress

Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist, wields a scythe on the grassy areas of the Motherhouse grounds.

June 24, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In their quarterly update on sustainability and permaculture efforts at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse, Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Joel Henricks, and Joel Aslakson spoke of the progress on summertime projects at the Adrian campus.

In the fifth year of living out the Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter Enactment on Sustainability, the focus is on changing beliefs about Earth and our relationships to creation. “This leads to changed practices,” said Sister Corinne, Director of the Office of Sustainability.

Sister Corinne reviewed sustainability practices in six sectors: food, transportation, waste, energy, and land relationships. “If we can reduce our waste, we’re assisting Earth to heal and restore herself,” she said. 

Sister Corinne recommended periodically conducting a waste audit. “Pay attention to what’s coming into your house, what you can’t put into your recycling bin, and how you can replace it,” she said. For example, some people have started to use shampoo and soap bars rather than buying shampoo and soap in plastic bottles. “We don’t have to be perfect, but try to lower how much plastic you use,” she said.

Joel, Director of Facilities and Grounds, gave an update on the restoration of the storm water retention pond on the Motherhouse grounds. The project has involved installing pipes so that the water can be drained slowly, then removing the muck and deepening the pond. The purpose of this project, Joel said in an earlier update, is to restore the pond and bring it back to a healthy ecosystem.

The summer projects also include installing a solar array in the field behind the Motherhouse to produce energy for the campus. That project has begun with removing certain trees around the perimeter of the field. “For every tree we cut down we’ll plant another tree on campus,” Joel said. “We’re really committed to not causing more harm.”

Hopes are for the project to be completed by the end of July, he said.

Jared, Permaculture Specialist, spoke of a number of projects that he is undertaking in the summer, including work on the trees in the orchard to keep them free of insects; planting oats and rye seed in the vegetable garden to keep nutrients in the soil and prevent erosion; and planting a new pollinator garden. 

Jared also reported on new beehives in the Permaculture section. “At any given time, we have 50,000 to 60,000 bees, constantly refreshed,” he said. “Our bees are very healthy, harvesting a lot of nectar.”

With all the many projects he has undertaken in the Permaculture area, Jared said he has learned an important lesson. “Absolutely nothing will happen in the right time,” he said. “You just roll with it because that’s all you can do. It’s been fun. It’s been definitely a learning experience.”

Watch the entire video here.