Posted on

Will you be there? If so, please smile at me while I’m yakin’ about Art-Farmin’ Permaculture, Perennial Food and Community Gardens….

The 2009 Conference on Michigan’s Future: Energy, Economy & Environment takes a head on look at the economic crisis, the looming energy crisis, and the environment crisis and explores possible solutions and a vision of a more self-sufficient, sustainable, and resilient Michigan. For more info. on the conference go to:

Here’s my presentation description for the conference on November 15, Sunday AM, session beginning at 8:00 AM—

Permaculture: Perennial Food & Community Gardening

We humans live as part of the natural world, one member of a community much larger than our species alone. The natural world feeds us and sustains us, and our actions affect all other members of our community: we are all in this together. Yet most of us do not experience these realities with any frequency at all.

Permaculture fosters the emergence of a culture which encourages and supports us to experience ourselves in the ways of knowing ourselves as “native” to the places we live in.

The basic teaching and strategy of Permaculture is to recognize our human selves as a non-fixed species on the move, and, our absolute, responsible part as collaborators on Earth to do as the planet has always asked of us….to take care-full steps, and action based on the understanding and practice and the fine-art of observation. Being mindful, intentional, and integrity-based in our choices and decisions.

Permaculture is a friend of the Right Brain and helps us recognize our role as artists, designers, and gardeners on a mission to make and do, tend and mend, and feed ourselves and our families. With guiding principals and ethics, the Permaculture tool-box or re-skilling set, allows us to utilize a basic, intelligent and creative Ecological Design process, which contributes to a self-regulating, harmonious and healing system. This we know is necessary in our peak oil, post-industrial world, and for the sake of our children.

And so, to create and implement complete cultural systems that consciously mimic ecosystem structure and function, we can go into our front or backyard “gardens”, and to our Community Garden plot and begin, again. Re-invigorating the concepts of Perennial gardening, which produces plenty of food at lower energetic and labor costs while re-building soil and ecosystem health. We can do this work as families, with our children, youth, and elders, and neighbors along side and with us, learning ways in which we can shift our community culture towards ways of life that include perennial food production.

The Urban Art-Farm Perennial Food Project investigates, develops and spreads the horticulture knowledge and practice required to grow perennial vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, small fruits, tree fruits and nuts as integrated eco-systems in a village setting. Based on a Perennial Food Project from the village of Shelbourne Falls MA, this UAF Perennial Food Project can be mimicked in local neighborhoods, and Community Garden sites, in Michigan.

Good and relevant reading:

Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain,
By Dr. Betty Edwards

The Zen of Seeing,
Frederick Franck

How to Grow More Vegetables
…than you ever thought possible on less land than you imagined
By John Jeavens

Edible Forest Gardens, Volume One, and Two,
By Dave Jacke and Eric Toenesmeier

Perennial Vegetables,
By Eric Toenesmeier

Helpful Permaculture websites:

Earth Activist Training

Regenerative Design Institute

Permaculture Activist

Penny Krebiehl, aka O’k, is a certified Permaculture designer and instructor, as well as an artist and community organizer specializing in programming for children, youth and their families. She conducts many creative, educational events, helps build the Grand Traverse Earth Day Parade and offers Permaculture design services and consultation in Michigan. Penny has studied, trained, and practiced with Permaculturists in North West and North Eastern United States since 2005, and gives grateful thanks to all of her devoted teachers. She is the founder and Executive Directress of Little Artshram, a non-profit, begun in Lansing, MI in 1993 and is inspired by children of all ages who are close to the earth, learning and re-learning as we mimic nature both in our educational systems as well as within the great paradigm shift and transition of our social, cultural structure. Permaculture principals, ethics and the eco-design process have been a central part of the development of the Little Artshram Art-Farm and Community Garden programs, located at the old State Hospital on the Historic Barns property, in Traverse City, MI.

Posted on

Does anybody read this blog? If so, here’s some news for ya’ll if you’re traveling Traverse City way….

Hey to all our “HAND-MADE” friends: knitters, spinners, sewers,
weavers, crotchet-ers, and Afgan Angels…..we are having a wonderful
community gathering to celebrate the harvest at our Community Gardens
and another summer of Art-Farm programming on the Barns Property. We
would like to organize a circle of “hand-made” artists who would like
to demonstrate and teach-by-doing as one of the on-going activities
for folks to join in on. Would you or anyone that you know like to
join in on this first Hand-made Crafter’s Skill-Share as a mentor/
demonstrator? Contact pe…


We are scrambling to find volunteers and organizational help to do
this scheduled event this year. We feel it is a seed we planted (this
is the Third Annual…) and we have a responsibility to tend it….It
has been a busy fall, with lots’ of other wonderful festivals and
gatherings—-but we gotta celebrate our 4.3 acres and our incoming
well/irrigation system!

It’s Harvest time! A time to heap all that we have planted and
harvested throughout the growing season on the center of our table and
be thankful for our fruitfulness! If you are interested in becoming a
sponsor, please connect with Jenny McKellar for details.

At the top of our “heap of harvest” is celebrating our official new-
old home-place on the Historic Barns Property. And here we are, as we
approach the end of our eighth year of service in the Traverse City
community. We are grateful for the shared space on the barns property
with the City and Rec Authority, SEEDS and the Botanic Gardens, and a
celebration is in order!

JOIN US, as we Heap the Harvest on the table! HARVEST FESTIVAL
a benefit
for the whole family and community!

at Little Artshram’s Art-Farm and Community Gardens on the Historic
Barns property,
Traverse City, MI

Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009

12-5 PM

$5 per person, $20 family, Donations accepted, Bay Bucks accepted.
one will be turned away for lack of funds)

* Music and merrymaking with Blackwater Valley Songs
* Community Potluck–bring your own tableware, chairs and blankets
* Hand-made Crafters Skill-Share, learn about spinning, weaving,
knitting, crotcheting….
* Youth Market Farmers Market and a Vegetable & Seed Swap/Sale
* Art-Farm Treasure Hunt!
* Face painting!
* This is a Zero-trash event, which means ONLY–compost buckets
will be provided

Funds raised will go towards the Art-Farm & Community Garden Programs,
and help underwrite the Children and Family portion of the Great Lakes
Bioneers Conference.

We thank our SPONSORS, so far: Cedar City Market, SEEDS, The Botanic
Gardens of Northwest Michigan, Rolling Centuries Farms, Oryana Natural
Foods, Edible Grand Traverse Magazine, and all the great crafters,
musicians, farmers,and volunteers who are generously giving their time
and talent…

For further information:

Volunteer Coordinator: Emily Huntoon, 517-914-6255


Sponsorship Coordinator: Jenny Mckellar, 231-944-4622


Treasure Huntress & Skill-Share Coordinator: Penny Krebiehl,


Posted on

O’k CSA Fat-Pie and Art-Farming News…in seven parts

Kids and 36 pounds of fresh, hand-picked cherries

I’m happy to say that today I’m back at it. After a wonderful and brief visit from BOTH of my children, for the first time all summer, I’ve just baked two, very lovely pies. Yes, I still have 36 pounds of freshly gleaned, Ballantine cherries washed and ready to pit in my neighbors’refrigerator.

After Zach and Allison’s departure last night, the wind is blowing strong across Lake Michigan. I’ve just finished a good cup of Higher Grounds’ coffee with real cream, and, a warm, cherry tart. I’m feeling like this is going to be a good day, as long as I stick to the plan of baking pies in-between my other “bizness” work. All will be fine.

Art-Farming in Traverse City, woods wandering in Cedar…

It’s been a busy Art-Farm growing season along with the continued planning meetings/organizational focus of the Barns Property management team (Little Artshram, SEEDS, The Botanic Garden and the Rec. Authority, aka BUG). Other than getting a little bugged by the many BUG gatherings, I’ve had few opportunities to have “indoor” office/studio time since the end of May. Also been living in a lovely little cabin in a Cedar Woods, off the grid without internet connections handy. So by circumstance, I have not been communicating as steadily as when I’m hooked into that system. Honestly, for this particular and blessed summer of my life, I’m realigning with the wonderful and basic inconvenience of my non-fixed nature of: moving at a slower pace. Through these simpler, summer living experiences I’m thankful for the reminder that my slow pace is more in tune with the off the grid life, than the hooked-up one. Sometimes I suffer. But not much.

On the other hand, there was a Buzzin’ Beehive of activity…

Our last Beehive Art-Farm Camp of the summer ended this past Friday, and although a rainy weekend foiled our plans to hold our Women’s and Girls camping retreat at the Eco-Learning Center, it was a great finale to a full summer of art-making, storytelling, singing, gardening, wild-crafting, map-making, dilly-bean canning, creek-jumping and woods wandering. Thanks to one of our Photo Philanthropist friends, Tracy Grant, you can catch a slew of new summer program photos on our website: Likewise you can visit our blog on the website for a re-cap of activity and announcements, as well as a few other snapshots of our programs.

I must say that we had an unbelievably, awesome group of little Beehivers, as well as Youth-Market Gardeners in our programs this summer. There were SO many beautiful, blessed, loving special encounters with these children, youth and their families. Mari, Casey, Nic, Mackenzie, Chelsea, Julia, Holly and myself felt so gifted with the shared magic and kid-energy. We all feel a sense of great satisfaction and expansion as teachers and mentors in training. Wow!

A piece of the big, pie in the sky plan and grateful thanks…

Today, without fully departing from the world of Art-Farm adventures, I give some of my attention and intention to beginning the sorting of administrative/office stuff, digesting of insights, and the challenging and positive outcomes of our urban art-farming and permaculture education programs. There is a whole bunch to look at, and I’ll do it in parts, between pie-baking and cherry pitting…going back to last winter/early spring.

And that begins with our annual Earth Day Parade and Workshops, the Art-Farm Teacher and Apprentice Training with Jayson Spaulding and Nic Welty (based on some of my experiences in a Permaculture Teacher Training Course), the Beehive camps, Youth-Market Garden program with Casey Voss and Mackenzie Vance, blending Nature Awareness and Mentoring skills with co-teacher Mari von Walthausen. Now we are looking ahead and forward to working with Paul Raphael of Two-Tracking Adventures, and the upcoming eco-design process for our 4.3 acre home-base on the Barns Property, including the Community Gardens that we sponsor and share with 32 other Traverse City garden families.

Maybe the greatest Little a winter work for me will be to stay steady on our goals of fine-tuning our piloted Art-Farm curriculum, providing the place and space for nature-based, fun and creative educational programs. I’m also looking forward to functionally interconnecting with partner projects and policies that focus on creativity, urban art-farming and gardening while immersing ourselves, listening and taking advice from the natural world.

There is much thoughtful, observational weaving of the co-creative, movements of Permaculture, Nature Awareness, and Transition Town Initiatives in our Little a work. And, we are looking forward to cultivating deeper mentoring and partnership relationships, and stepping back to check out what is emerging locally on the Barns Property.

We are very, very thankful to continue this work and for the support of our Grand Traverse area community who supports our mission and vision, as well as our individual programs…they are folks, businesses and like-minded organizations from here and there including, but not limited to this group: Oryana Community Grant Program, all of our 2009 Youth-Market Garden mentors, sponsors and weekly Village Farmers Market customers, Porterhouse Productions, The Minervini Group, Northsky Non-Profit Network, Community Legal Resources, and our BUG partners, SEEDS and the Botanic Gardens, as well as the Recreational Authority.

Speaking of thanks and transitions…please read these words…

One of my mentors, Carol Laughing Waters (herself a weaver) shared a well-written article about the Transition Initiative,“weaving some ideas back into culture”…We both like a part of the article that speaks to mending, tending and restoring….here’s a bit and you can read more by going to the July/August 2009 issue of Orion magazine…

Author Jay Griffiths says…”In both the U.K. and USA, the shadow of the Depression years now looms uncomfortably close, encouraging an attitude of mending rather than buying new; tending one’s own garden; restoring the old. To mend, to tend, and to restore all expand beautifully from textiles, vegetables, and furniture into those most quiet of qualities; to restore is restorative, to tend involves tenderness, to mend hints at amends. There is restitution here of community itself.”

Another piece of the pie in my eye and in my heart…

For me personally as I wander into the cooler months ahead, I’ll be my tending, mending and restoring my skills as an artist, student and teacher by traveling to both the east and west coast for more permaculture studies, forest garden design, and gypsy art-work. As I prepare for the end of the outdoor gardening season, as an Art-Farmer in Michigan, In addition to my traveling boots tapping their heels and toes, I hear the call of the kitchen counter and oven…a return to my rolling pin and the promise of goodness in pies.

And, so, the time has come to share an announcement about another season of offerings from O’k CSA…

Like members of other CSAs, the friends of O’k CSA are asked to invest money and a little of their creative energy in exchange for artistic services, products and events. This is a CSA for an Art-Farmer…and the Art-Farmer is O’k, also known as Penny Krebiehl. The inspiration for O’k CSA came not only from my need to seek support for my “non-profit addiction” such as covering my basic living expenses, like shelter with a kitchen and a good oven…But also for my sincere love of pie-baking, and the creation and sharing of a Mid-western version of the Chinese New Year Calendar (2010 is the Year of the Cat, which will be available Oct. 23rd).

Please consider renewing your O’k CSA Membership, or, becoming a new member, and to celebrate by joining us for our second annual, Fat Pie Social…We will be unveiling the seventh in a series of twelve “Year of Calendars” featuring an illustrated version of the “Northern Michigan New Year Story”… plus other mysterious, artistic surprises….with a sneak preview paintings from the upcoming Cat Calendar….

There will be both Cherry Pie and Cow Pie…

Fat Pie Social and O’k Art on Tuesday, Sept. 22 (with a rain-date of Sept. 29th)
“In Honor of Pie as Art”

It’s a party in the Cedar Woods, with local music provided by our friend and partner, “Nature” also known as the trees, the creek, squirrels, crows, a few beavers,
Rosa the Cat, Marley the dog, the
wind, ferns and the talented human, Pat Ivory!

Bring plates and forks and plates, and if you have an itch to make a pie to share,
go ahead…the more the merrier!

At the Cedar Basket Studio and Fairy Hut
7776 Stachnik Rd.,
Cedar, MI 49664

RSVP, 231-510-3491

Please park on Sullivan Woods/Stachnik Rd. and walk in the drive. Follow the Cow-Pie signs and keep moooo-ving to the west, deeper towards the Cedar Woods. Please enter quietly, and respectfully, as the Fairies in these magic woods don’t care for a whole lot of human-made ruckus, or large herds of bovines.

Fairies + Fat Pie + Art = Good

Posted on

Planting peas and making puppets….


Time to dust off the BIG Earth Day Parade puppets, hold a few mask and costume making workshops and I’ve decided to have a spring-cleaning sale and sell off some of my art that’s piling up.  You can go to to see the marionettes and puppets, along with a bunch of Art-Farm notecards and Year of Cow Calendar art

I’ve also included a few shots of our Earth Day Parade building workshops.

The Grand Traverse Earth Day Parade is next Saturday, April 25th, with the parade line-up happening at noon at Central Grade School in Traverse City.

Posted on

APRIL FOOLishness Special…

Artists have to pay taxes too…well, they don’t have to…but this one does…

Help me prove the nay-sayers wrong–who say things like “Why don’t you get a REAL job?”….or, “It’s been 25 years, and I still don’t understand what you are doing for a living.”….or “You know how the saying goes: Once a starving artist, always a starving artist…”
AArrkkkss…my foolish feeling is that whoever is reading this blog, really needs a piece of o’K useful art….and I have just the item….The Year of Cow calendar—at a special APRIL FOOL two for one price!
So, I’m inviting you to go to my Etsy page….at… 
….and contribute to the serious, ridiculous o’K art cause.  Thanks!
Posted on

Since December, I’ve been re-viewing the i don’t know…

… and, part of my three month winter hibernation has been immersing myself in that re-invention, re-engineering, re-visiting place of what i’m doing and why and where.

The re-s are really big, including re-pair….this repair manifesto was on another blog called the re-play-ground, and i thought i’d spend a little time in my pre-earth day re-entry time of parade build and permaculture tea-times checking it out.
Up for other re-view, re-engineering and re-wiring:
  • my Little Artshram summer-work schedule
  • my home-place
  • my work-place
  • my precious time spent in meetings, meetings, meetings…..
  • my non-profit, no-profit bankrupt career
  • my true need to make art
  • my true need to wander in the woods
  • my way of annual and/or perennial gardening
  • my energy and intentions of being a mentor and teacher
  • my cranky shoulders, numb buttocks and achey back from computer company
I’m in agreement here:  
Stop recycling and start repairing.  
Well, okay then.

Posted on

What does an Art-Farmer do?

Art-Farmers are everywhere…..perhaps, very soon even on the White House lawn.

Here’s is a fine example of an Art-Farmer…

It may be that when we
no longer know what to do

we have come to our
real work,
and, that when we no longer know
which way to go–we have
come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled
is not employed.

The impeded stream is the
one that sings.

~Wendell Berry

I myself, am a self-appointed O’k Art-Farmer variety, and this is my answer to the question “what do I do?”

For the past five years in the winter months, I’ve spent a lot of time drawing and writing, and doing a little painting and making big papier maiche puppets and masks. Along with a few more tasks in planning the Art-Farm workshops, during my spring, summer and fall garden hours, I spend a lot of time making friends with the soil in our Community Gardens and hauling water from the creek to water the plants in the Art-Farm teaching and market gardens. In between all of this, I hang out with amazing kids, I’ve become a full-time bike-rider, been studying permaculture, and, of course, I bake pies.

This week is a BIG week for me with the culmination of many hours of meetings, and many months and even years of planning all of the above and including a whole lot more.

On Tuesday, what began as my creation and is now shared by many, our Art-Farm brainchild, Little Artshram, presents a final request to acquire and hold a lease with the City of Traverse City and Rec Authority on a 54-acre piece of land that includes the old State Hospital Farm and our beloved Community Gardens and Art-Farm Workshop space. Little Artshram has worked with and towards carrying on the vision of Rolling Centuries Farms for this property to become a working educational farm. Our partner organizations are SEEDS and the North West Michigan Botanic Garden Society, as well as Spireworks. We have worked to craft a governance agreement under the guidance of Northsky Nonprofit Network.


I’ve been able to share and survive hundreds of hours of planning and organizational meetings for the barns property, with the help and understanding of the Little a board and advisory circle, and also, by drawing and cartooning business and program plans and ideas.


Some of them come from my “Epic Adventures of the Demanding Universe”. And, some of them I call cartoon maps…or described as…..” a handful of puzzle pieces that have gathered themselves into a grand magic-drawing board like picture (…from my Captain Kangaroo days)…and then tossed up into the sky, scattering themselves here and there, where in a Matisse cut-out fashion they are reassembled….”


In an effort to stay true to my Art-Farm vision, I’ve attempted to share some of these illustrated plans and ideas. At times, it hasn’t gone over real well. And I’m not the best at explaining myself. I wonder about my abilities and language and the true desire to understand and be understood. I’m humbled to realize that no matter how old I am, how many years of experience or head-banging realities I’ve encountered, or, what my resume lists as accomplishments, there always seems to be another deeper layer underneath and further to go.

So what’s next after this lease agreement is offered to Little Artshram and our Art-Farm has a real, homeplace?

Without any righteous attitude, I feel like I’ve done a fine job of creatively tossing puzzle pieces into the sky and gather them back into a whole, lovely, picture originally called ARTSPACE and now called Little Artshram.

As I shared last spring, I’m side-stepping my solo role as directress of Little Artshram, remaining on the board, and perhaps teaching, to become a full-time O’k Art-Farmer. And I’m not sure who will be heading up the Little a bandwagon, or what my O’k Art Farming will bring except I’m going to keep practicing and studying permaculture, growing my own food, and, writing, drawing and cartooning for quite awhile longer.

Posted on

My Ganesha of the North Woods…

Since I brought up Ganesh, the remover of obstacles when last month, we intelligently voted in a new presidential leader and his family….I’ve decided to add an image of Ganesha from a mural painting I made for my friends Libby and Michael which hangs at their Yoga for Health Ed studio in Bldg. #50…..This work is a 5′ by 6′, acrylic painting of the elephant boy-god resting at the base of a maple tree. I painted the background green in hopes of chasing off the long winter, cabin-fever blues I was experiencing while working in my art-farm studio in early 2005.