The Polish Ambassador tour to help plant edible forest in Kalamazoo

David Sugalski, better known as The Polish Ambassador (TPA), says he believes the music scene is evolving to a point where projects to improve the community and dance party celebrations co-exist, where music and mobilization for social change go hand-in-hand.

TPA is testing his ideas in a 30-city tour, crowd-funded through IndiGoGo, in which concert-goers are invited to take action in their communities. By turning out and pitching in, his fans are proving him right.

The Pushing Through the Pavement tour has been packing in TPA's fans and they in turn -- 300 of them in San Francisco -- are helping with projects that promote permaculture: "living in a balanced way on the earth and designing relationships of mutual support between people and the ecosystems they inhabit."

"Perhaps we can consider this a seed that is being planted to inspire other artists to do something similar," TPA says.

When TPA comes to Kalamazoo he will be in concert at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26, the action day project is planting an edible urban forest at the Riverview Launch property, 1523 Riverview Dr.

A public food forest has been described as a community garden steroids and the concept comes out of the community garden movement. The public is invited to gather the fruit from the trees and bushes in the edible forest. Plants and trees that restore the nutrients in the ground also are planted. Only a handful of public food forests have been created in the United States.

The forest on the Riverview Launch property will be in a spot that will be close to the bee condo on the property and is expected to be about 200 square feet. It will complement the plantings of native species already growing on the property. 

Evan Granito, of MSU Extension says it is the first project of its kind that his office has been involved in. Soul Springs Permaculture, the Kalamazoo County Land Bank are also working on the project.

Riverview Launch, located along the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and on the bank of the Kalamazoo River, is a formerly blighted and foreclosed property undergoing a transformation as a project of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank. The site will host community education and youth programming space, promote access to the Kalamazoo River and trail-ways, and be the home of offices for the Land Bank and the bicycle training and maintenance program, Open Roads.

In Kalamazoo, trees that have been donated for the forest include: pecan trees, two varieties of plums, hackberry trees, and others. Gooseberry, raspberry and cherry bushes will be planted. Trees that will help retain nutrients in the area are goumi and gray alders.

Another unique feature is that an ancient redwood will be donated to be the start of a redwood grove. The trees come from David Milarch. He owns a tree cloning nursery in Copemish, Mich., and has worked on a cloning and reforestation project since he first became concerned about the disappearing forests in the 1990s. Since then he has grown thousands of genetic duplicates of redwoods and sequoias. Such trees are known for their ability to absorb carbon dioxide to help fight climate change.

Milarch of Archangel Tree Archive will be the keynote speaker for the action day event.

Karma Hassell, project coordinator for the Kalamazoo County Land Bank, calls the edible forest project "brilliant" and she is excited about the many educational aspects that come along with it.

She says a number of different ideas and locations for the project proposed as part of the tour were examined, but maintenance of the growing plants provided a challenge that was solved by putting it on the Riverview Launch property.

The tour is traveling with a team of permaculture teachers, urban farmers, community organizers, and network weavers alongside a team of musicians, lyricists, and visual artists that make up Jumpsuit Records and The Polish Ambassador concert experience.

"Every show I've ever played, every song I've ever produced, every fan I've ever connected with, it's really all led up to this," says The Polish Ambassador. "This project has become something greater than the music that's come through it, not because of me or you, but because of an open invitation to co-create together."

For more information on the concert, click here
For more information on the action day project, click here

Sources: Evan Granito, MSUE, and Karma Hassell, Kalamazoo County Land Bank