How to apply permaculture to shared green areas

Permaculture is an ecological design system developed during the 70s by the Australian researchers Bill Mollison and his student David Holgrem. It is based on three ethical principles: earth care - to help and improve all life systems; people care - enabling them to increase their quality of life thanks to the restoration of the human being as part of nature; fair share - limiting consumption and sharing and distributing natural resources equally, to preserve both the earth and all living beings. To do all this, permaculture starts from the observation of nature to derive the 12 ecological principles essential to develop design systems to apply to farming and every facet of our life.

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In summary, we could define permaculture as the process of "permanent culture" that enables us to respect the planet and its laws and re-establish the lost infinite abundance, aided by the principle of least effort.

It is difficult to explain permaculture in two words, and that is certainly not the purpose of this article. Instead, we want to try to direct the gaze of this exciting world towards the application of permaculture in the management of shared green spaces. Indeed, permaculture offers many creative options for transforming a green space of any kind into a useful place for the community, whether in terms of recreation, food sovereignty, or preservation of biodiversity. Summarizing the issue at its core, let us recall some basic practical points of the permacultural approach:

  • 1. follow a closed cycle scheme in everything you do;
  • 2. protect photosynthesis, keep CO2 and nitrogen on the ground and promote fertility through soil cover (mulch, biochar, and other ideas);
  • 3. wisely manage factors like fire, water, wind, sun, earth, sight, telluric energies, and faunal corridors so that they favour us, with the help of plants, trees, walls, and systems for capturing and transforming energy such as windmills, photovoltaic panels, etc.
  • 4. design in zones from 0 to 5, where 0 is the nerve centre of the life of the person or of the community (or even before that, one's inner soul) and the subsequent zones according to the maximization of needs-effort-results;
  • 5. design from patterns, those forms derived from nature with infinite potential to create vegetable gardens, green walls for purifying rainwater, biotopes to attract insects or generate biodiversity, and much more.

Once the basic principles are understood, the possibilities are endless. Applying them to a shared green area could mean:

Creating a rainwater harvesting system useful both to water plants and to cook or drink (through the use of filters or, if necessary, a water purifier). Rainwater is a precious resource that nature gives us and making good use of it means saving energy, stopping pollution, reducing costs, avoiding health problems, and protecting the environment from floods and soil erosion.

To grow small or big vegetable gardens using functional patterns like: the mandala garden, the aromatic or medical herb spirals, the Tee Pee garden, the eco pond. These are just some of the most popular.

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There are multiple benefits to allocating space to this: the creation of biodiversity; the transformation of organic waste into compost, creating new life; the production of totally natural food or herbs for health, for food sovereignty; and last but not least: enjoyment, relationships, and beauty. You can also create a seed bank to preserve the local seeds and foment exchange among community members to multiply varieties.

Another great idea is building insect hotels with recycled natural materials and a sun hive for bees to protect pollinators. This will restore the habitat and help to keep the vegetable garden free of plagues.

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If you have a larger environment, you can consider creating a polyculture space combined with an outdoor cultural space. People will thus be able to meet and, at the same time, learn about the importance of diversity in life.

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With bio-construction, fully sustainable stable structures can be made that often may not need permits to build. This is the case, for example, of geodesic domes, an easy structure to make in groups, which makes you fall in love and have fun while doing so.

At the same time, the compost toilet allows for grey and yellow water to be reused as an excellent fertiliser for the garden and to transform faeces into biologically impact 0 compost. What better service to offer to nature and ourselves?

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Finally, the earth oven or the rocket stove are just a couple of easy-to-make examples offered by permaculture for heating indoor or outdoor spaces, communal seating, or cooking bread, pizza, and any other dish.

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This is just a taste of what you can discover through this fantastic journey of Coeducation in green. Stay tuned!

Sources:

https://www.learnpermaculture.com

https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/learning-doing-iranian-university-permaculture-garden

https://biblio.flacsoandes.edu.ec/libros/digital/56819.pdf

https://domosgeodesicos.es/

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Proj.no: 2020-1-LT01-KA204-077953

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