The Ripple Effect of Regeneration
Permaculture principles in business, lifestyle and community
By: Brenlee Brothers
Hatchet & Seed owners Solara Goldwynn and Tayler Krawczyk. Hatchet & Seed photo
As Spring approaches, it’s a time for preparing garden beds with compost, starting seeds and patiently waiting for the soil to warm. The folks at Hatchet and Seed are busy translating their winter design consultations into reality for their clients. Raised beds, custom greenhouses, drip irrigation, multi-species orchard establishment and rain garden installations are some of the projects lined up this spring.
Co-owner Tayler Krawczyk’s passion for edible landscaping began as a curiosity about the principles, ethics and lifestyle habits of the ‘permaculture movement’. During his twenties, he spent half a decade working in forestry and acquired a BA in International Development Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. “I was left with many critical questions about how we might practically address some of the structural problems facing our societies and ecosystems. Wealth inequality, food systems vulnerability, ecosystem stress and climate change - how are they related?” he wondered.
Those questions led him to the field of permaculture design, which asks: what does regenerative human habitat on earth look like? “How can we fulfill our human needs for shelter, food, water, energy and community while not degrading the planet we depend on for future generations? Better yet, how do we regenerate the planet so there are more forests, cleaner water, and healthier soils for our descendants?” he asks. “We feel strongly that it is our job to heal the earth, not for its own sake, but for our descendants. The earth can repair itself or at least find a new equilibrium over millennia, but if we care about the future of our descendants and other animals on this planet, we need to change our consumption patterns.”
From this curiosity, Krawczyk completed a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC), followed by Gaia College’s ‘Organic Master Gardener’ and ‘Ecological Landscape Design’ Certificates. These programs helped solidify an understanding of the best practices for organic landcare, Tayler said. “It also helped to systematize our design process in a way that puts earth care front and center. I would highly recommend the program to any budding landscape designers.”
For the past decade, Krawczyk and his wife (and business partner) Solara Goldwynn, have worked with hundreds of clients through their ‘foodscaping’ business Hatchet & Seed on Southern Vancouver Island, ultimately transforming underused landscapes into abundant, beautiful, food-producing landscapes. “My wife is amazing,” Krawczyk said. “She’s recently begun a one-year contract with Royal Roads University as a project manager to kickstart the revival of the walled kitchen garden… and she’s also completing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads.”
Through watching some of their youtube videos, one can get a taste of Solara’s sweetness and her extensive knowledge in permaculture design and food growing that comes with a decade of experience under her belt. Their youtube channel is an incredible aspect of their online presence, with resources available to clients and the general public about fermenting, ergonomics and raised beds, composting, fruit tree pruning and the list goes on.
With projects that range from backyard food gardens and orchards, to City Parks, to schools, businesses, farms, and everything in between, the unique and complementary skill sets of their staff get the field work done, while Krawczyk and Goldwynn focus on design consulting and project management.
Close up of a raised garden bed. Hatchet & Seed photo
A garden area featuring a ferro-cement raised bed. Hatchet & Seed photo
An aerial view of Tayler and Solara's backyard garden featuring no-dig raised beds. Hatchet & Seed photo
A beautiful wildlife pond. Hatchet & Seed photo
Since the pandemic began, many people have been spending more time looking out their windows at spaces that could become food growing areas, Krawczyk said. “Other more experienced hobby gardeners are looking to elevate their game and become more efficient. We can help with both, but we do make it clear to prospective clients that you need to be serious about making a lifestyle change if you are serious about growing food.” Through maintenance visits, the staff help clients become accustomed to these necessary changes that come along with being a food grower.
The weather conditions on Southern Vancouver Island are unlike any other place in Canada. Classified as a modern mediterranean climate, it’s considered the mildest-growing climate in Canada, where citrus and avocados can be grown with protection while olives and figs do well out in the open.
From May to September the summers are increasingly dry, while October through April tends to bring a lot of rain, making water tables rise to the surface. This makes the balancing act between drainage and water retention as challenging as it is important, Krawczyk said. “Our water retention strategies start with softer approaches like improving soil organic matter, mulching and cover cropping. We also employ well-designed earthworks to manage stormwater in rain gardens and farm-scale irrigation ponds.”
From 2017 to 2019, Hatchet and Seed led a “Keyline Water Management Project” through the Farm Adaptation Innovator Program (FAIP) that piloted keyline subsoiling in their region. By leveraging detailed contour maps and the use of specialized subsoilers (a plow feature that penetrates the soil without disturbing soil biology), water can be spread across the landscape more evenly from wetter areas to drier areas on farms that have varied topography, Tayler explained. “All of this experience puts water front-and-center in our minds when designing or implementing a new land-based project.”
“Our goal moving forward is to work increasingly on public edible landscape / foodscape projects – community gardens, orchards and farms – where the positive impacts of the work can ripple even farther.” To that end, we have some very exciting public projects coming up in 2022, he said. “Having said that, we still love helping families and households transform their backyards into efficient and productive foodscapes.”
“Increasingly the most fulfilling part of our work has become the client and staff relationships that Solara and I have created over the last 10 years in Victoria, BC. While both of us started this work to be closer to dynamic, functional ecosystems, we've found ourselves as part of an amazing community of growers who are investing time and energy into small-scale agroecology,” he said.
While working in alignment with permaculture principles, Hatchet and Seed translates these practices into a regenerative approach to their business. They strive to be exceptional employers with health and dental benefits for full-time staff and competitive wages while working on projects the staff can feel good about and learn from, Krawczyk said. “These positive relationships with both clients and our staff, centered around edible landscaping, are an important part of the business for us.”
“Oh, and eating a ripe fig, or a handful of mulberries.”
The crew. Hatchet & Seed photo
For more information about Hatchet & Seed, please visit: Hatchet & Seed