Big Bend Hot Springs Project uses permaculture principles to guide our development, and one aspect of our permaculture development is our gardens, orchards, edible landscaping, and food forest enhancement efforts.  Lah-lah-pis-mah, also known as Big Bend Hot Springs, has a strong legacy of food production dating back thousands of years, when the Madesi tribe harvested acorns, salmon, trout, deer, and countless other plants, animals, and fungi for food and medicine.  In more recent times, BBHS residents in the 1980s and 1990s planted many gardens and orchards that still produce food today.    Spring Peach Blossoms:


Dan Christiansen was the main gardener in that era, and he planted most of the perennials we now enjoy (over 40 fruit trees and grape vines are now being nurtured and enjoyed by BBHSP).  Thanks, Dan!  And special appreciation and thanks to other recent BBHSP gardeners, including: Roberta Ma, Eviane, Korey, and Elizabeth Beil.  Thanks to all the gardeners who have helped over the years!

Our current BBHSP Garden Coordinators are Lindsay and Huxley, who are incredible organic gardeners and Resident-Staff Site Managers, as well.  Their contributions to BBHSP are huge and crucial to the Project moving forward.  In this picture, Huxley and Lindsay are sorting and selecting seeds, and are pictured in the “Garden Kitchen,” adjacent to the main garden:

One of our goals is to maintain and evolve the gardens, orchards,  edible landscaping, and food forest to produce plenty of delicious organic food to feed BBHSP staff members and have some surplus food to give away and trade for other food in the community.  In addition to the thriving fruit, vegetable, herb, and flower gardens, we also steward Apple, Peach, Plum, Pear, and Cherry trees, plus Grape vines, Kiwis, Blueberry bushes, tons of Blackberry, Mulberry, Huckleberry, and inoculated logs growing gourmet mushrooms.  We are gradually pruning many overgrown fruit trees and we are planning and experimenting with adding other varieties and other kinds of fruits and nuts to the historic BBHS orchards.

Hux Waters Garden

Garden Beds Compost

BBHSP Prayer Garden

In addition to the main gardens, greenhouse, orchards, blueberry garden, and edible landscaping, we also have the beautiful “Prayer Garden” (pictured below), located near the Lah-lah-pis-mah hot springs and Achoma (Pit) River.  The Prayer Garden is surrounded on three sides by hot springs, and the soil is warm, from the shallow hot aquifer flowing below.  The garden was created by the late great Elly Beil, and the entrance archway (made from recycled steel by friend of BBHSP, Gustav) commemorates her with the sign that reads “Elly’s Prayer Garden”.
friends_assorted - 004

The Prayer Garden has some sacred plants and some heirloom Native American plants, and is planted with beds in each of the four directions.  It has a central altar with a carved cedar Peace Pole, created by BBHSP staff artist and altar-maker, Bern.

Peace Pole Altar in Prayer Garden

Below: The year two Prayer Garden with improved “Four Directions”  orientation and circular shape, pathway digging, and sheet mulch (cardboard covering for the winter through much of Spring), to prevent weed growth.

Prayer Garden Layout

Below: Bern’s design for the carving of the Incense-Cedar Peace Pole center piece for the Prayer Garden Altar.  The piece includes the four directions, along with symbols representing the four elements (earth, air, fir, and water), and the animal spirits associated with each direction in some indigenous cultures.

Peace Pole Design by Bern

Bern carved and installed the cedar pole and built this beautiful cedar and flagstone altar for the center of the Prayer Garden. The spirals carved into the peace pole represent the merging of DNA, peoples, and cultures:
IMG_6042Each bed in the Prayer Garden is in one of the four directions, separated by cedar plank pathways (mill ends) and local volcanic gravel.  The Prayer Garden sits in a special spot (with shallow hot aquifer and corresponding pre-warmed soil), surrounded by three of the main La-lahpis-mah hot springs.

Prayer Garden evolving (from space)…

Below: Prayer Garden, Year One (July 8, 2012):
Prayer Garden July 2012

Below: Prayer Garden, Winter, Year Two (with sheet mulching and new pathways, on February 21, 2014):

Prayer Garden Sat 2-2014
Prayer Garden evolving (from Earth)…

Prayer Garden, Year One (2012), tilled and ready for planting (thanks to Patrick B. for tilling up the turf for Elizabeth’s original Prayer Garden!):
First Prayer Garden 2012
Prayer Garden, Year Two (2013), in full growing glory:

IMG_6087Prayer Garden All-Star Staff: Red Amaranth, Sunflowers, Tobacco, Mountain Rainbow Native Multicolor Flour Corn, Hopi Blue Corn, White Sage, Culinary Sage, Rosemary, Strawberries, Parsley, Holy Basil, Buckwheat, Purslane, Catnip, Winter Squash, Artichoke, Quinoa, Tomato, Green Onions, Motherwort, Primrose, Calendula, Trumpet Flower, and many more sacred plants, herb, flowers, etc…

THANKS to all the helpers who have donated time, plants, seeds, the amazing entry archway, and so much love to Elly’s Prayer Garden!