Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Change the World Wednesday Challenge - 9th May 2012 - Permaculture

This weeks challenge is to think about the principles of Permaculture and how they relate to our own environment.

On first reading the challenge I began thinking of my own garden: the high fence down one side that is perfect for growing beans, peas, sweet peas and sun flowers or the shady corner at the bottom where nothing grows and is now home to the compost heap.But then I read posts by Mrs. Green and  Lynn Fang which opened my eyes to the wider application of the principles of Permaculture, bringing nature in to our cityscapes.

In many ways it is related to the disconnect between many people and their natural environments, the gulf between increasing numbers of urban dwellers and the natural cycles that sustain us. I like the idea of connecting our urban green spaces: making corridors for nature and wildlife between our parks, for example and re-introducing traditional varieties.

In one of life's little coincidences, I borrowed Food for Free by Richard Mabey from my local library a couple of weeks ago.  It talks of the harvest obtained from hedgerows, forests and other wild places that was used to supplement rations during the first and second world wars.  Many of these places have been depleted in the intervening years through changes to more intensive agriculture with larger fields and less hedges and expansion of our towns and cities but there is still a great variety if you know what to look for and where. The author also writes of the fear many people have of wild foods, a largely misplaced fear that they will poison themselves. Other than a very small number of fungi nothing will kill you in the UK.  This is another case of our growing unfamiliarity with nature.

There seems to be a reluctance to include fruits, berries and other edible plants in to urban parks and public gardens, possibly from the above fear that people will be poisoned or simply because people will help themselves.  I wonder how we can get some more brambles, gooseberries, bilberries and apples in to our parks... perhaps some guerrilla gardening?

Related Posts:

Mrs Green's Post: http://littlegreenblog.com/green-home/environment-issues/international-permaculture-day/
Lynn Fang's Post: http://lynnfang.com/2012/03/open-source-permaculture-interview-with-sophia-novak/


  1. Guerrilla gardening! Yes!
    I live in the country - we are growing garlic, kale, basil, and snap peas right now with more to follow - hot peppers, tomatilloes, tomatoes, cilantro, parsley, and more...
    But, we are growing more than we need so we can share it with friends and neighbors.
    We are in this together...

  2. Just put you in my blog roll - thanks!
    If I wasn't so tired, I'd write more... but this 3 week old kid is wearing me down right now.

  3. OMGoodness ... I'm so sorry that I missed this post last week! But ... I'll include it in tomorrow's wrap up. I do apologize! :-(

    Several weeks ago we were in a park and there were blackberry bushes everywhere, in full bloom. I was so excited. Then, when we returned a week later, every single bush had been removed and in it's place was a bare mound of dirt. I was so disappointed and couldn't figure why they would remove them. I'm sure that it has something to do with liability but still ... this is in an area which boasts not one but several edible parks where people are invited to come out and enjoy whatever is growing. It seems that if a garden is planted with the purpose of eating the produce, it's okay ... but the thought of eating wild food is hard for folks to swallow (excuse the pun). That being said, I do know that in our area there were many orchards in the past, all using chemicals. It consequently became toxic and so people have been warned about eating wild food until soils have been tested and confirmed safe. Much of that land is now public so there is a very real chance that foraged food could be dangerous.