There are two basic goals in a permaculture site plan: Use natural energies to increase our productivity and make the key features serve multiple functions. A permaculture design for a community garden would address some key steps to build resilience and long term success of the community garden:
- Choose a site with a good position. Check there is a gentle slope. A slope that greets the morning sun can provide lots of growing time. If there is too much sun, shade plants will help to reduce the glare.
- Ensure the entry has good visibility. Make signs and gates that look welcoming.
- Plan and implement good water filtration and re-use.
- Include strategically placed perennial food plants for windbreaks, privacy screens and shade in hot summer months. A typical western community garden has a lot of annual plants. Aim to include carbon-sequestering perennials. Perennials need less maintenance. These food plants are good structural plants and last for several years and sometimes decades. The space will mature and be enhanced as it ages.
- Native animals and insects would be encouraged to help with pest control and increase biodiversity. Position some big trees on the far corners of the sun-less side of the site. These trees will trap condensation. They will also provide tinder for cooking, mulch for the garden, sticks for small trellises or plant ti-pis, a shady corner for nursery plants and habitat for wildlife.
- Encourage participants to learn to cook and eat what grows easily rather than force the landscape and climate to grow what they are in the habit of eating. The notion of re-educating our palette can be very helpful for us to cope with climate uncertainty.
Strengthening Community Heart
Include spaces to enhance the social unity in your community garden.
Create spaces to:
- meet and exchange ideas (this can also be a stage) Northey Street City Farm has a small outdoor stage under a mature tree. For decades this space has served as a great space to hangout day and night.
- share tools and enjoy harvests together
- Entertain one another and have fun. In our recent design here for a Permaculture community garden we have made the whole site in the shape of an amphitheater. This demonstrates the true creative spirit of permaculture – to serve many functions!
Stacking The Action
A multi-functional community space like this can run events throughout the seasons and at different times of the day. This is the stacking principle taught by Bill Mollison. When we stack different plants together we utilise the vertical space and when we put things into the space at different times of the day or year, we are utilising the 4th dimension – time.