SBO Awards 2013: David Barmon's not fiddling around
By Lee van der Voo
David Barmon, the Fiddlehead boss who's this year’s recipient of SBO’s Innovation and Sustainability Emerging Leader award winner, has created a nationally circulated template for edible gardens, researched how the local food bank could grow crops on surplus land, foraged for wild foods and promoted ways to eat invasive shad from the Columbia River.
Thirteen years ago, David Barmon was a Japanese-qualified flight attendant for United Airlines.
Naturally, he was hit hard on Sept. 11, 2001. And not just for the obvious reasons.
The last flight that Barmon had worked on, a week earlier, ended up being the same flight that would crash into a Pennsylvania field after hijackers diverted it from the U.S. Capitol.
Following Sept. 11, “I just kind of decided that I wanted to do good in the world, and I didn’t just want to do things randomly. So I just went on this long journey,” he said.
Barmon’s path eventually led him to the world of permaculture design. Which led him to build the landscape construction and consulting business Fiddlehead LLC with partner Mark Parisien. Which, in turn, led to a local and not-so-local following around his food resilience and urban lumber ideas.
Barmon is this year’s recipient of SBO’s Innovation and Sustainability Emerging Leader award. His work includes helping craft a nationally circulated template for edible gardens, researching how the local food bank could grow crops on surplus land, foraging for wild foods and promoting ways to eat invasive shad from the Columbia River.
Last fall, he installed the landscape at the Full Plane House, one of the first Living Building Challenge projects in North America.
But Barmon is lately best known for championing the notion that fallen trees in urban areas should be diverted to better uses than the wood-chipper. Four billion board feet of urban lumber is annually chipped for compost, cut for firewood or discarded in landfills in America, he says.
And as technology arrives at the portable bandsaw and chainsaw mill, Barmon says if urban trees were better used, and were planted with urban lumber in mind, billions of board feet of lumber could be harvested sustainably in U.S. cities in 50 years.
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