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Permaculture in the City? Is it possible?

Is it possible to create a permaculture village in the city? My imagination has been piqued by other conversations happening on Portland Indymedia. So I did a little investigation to see what resources are available and if anyone is moving toward a sustainable model in Portland and other communities. Here's what I found so far:
Permaculture in the City? Is it possible?
Permaculture in the City? Is it possible?

I want to keep the conversation going about creating permaculture opportunities in the city. I have included one definition of Permaculture, a link to a Portland group who is building sustainable community in our city an links to other Permaculture and sustainable communities around the earth. And last I have included some of the discussion on this site attached to another story.

First one defintion of Permaculture:

"Permaculture: Permaculture is a practical concept which can be applied in the city, on the farm, and in the wilderness. Its principles empower people to establish highly productive environments providing for food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs, including economic. Carefully observing natural patterns characteristic of a particular site, the permaculture designer gradually discerns optimal methods for integrating water catchment, human shelter, and energy systems with tree crops, edible and useful perennial plants, domestic and wild animals and aquaculture.

Permaculture adopts techniques and principles from ecology, appropriate technology, sustainable agriculture, and the wisdom of indigenous peoples. The ethical basis of permaculture rests upon care of the earth-maintaining a system in which all life can thrive. This includes human access to resources and provisions, but not the accumulation of wealth, power, or land beyond their needs. (Source: Bay Area Permaculture Group brochure, published in West Coast Permaculture News & Gossip and Sustainable Living Newsletter (Fall 1995) extracted from "Introduction to Permaculture" www.attra.org for more definitions see permaculture.net."

I believe that it is possible to build a permaculture community in the city. The City Repair project has been working on this idea for sometime now. The City Repair Project is an organized group action in Portland that educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live. They facilitate artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. They will be sponsoring a Village Building Convergence in May.

The Village Building Convergence: Human-Scale Community Action at the Urban Crossroads is a ten-day event (May 9-18, 2003) of daytime and evening educational, inspirational, and celebratory activities surrounding the transformation of neighborhood intersections into public squares. They can be found at http://www.cityrepair.org/

Here are some web links to communities already organizing around permaculture principles

**Permaculture online: http://www.ibiblio.org/permaculture/permaculture-online/
**The Permaculture Activist, a online newsletter: http://www.permacultureactivist.net/intro/PcIntro.htm
The Farm: Permaculture links on the web -http://www.thefarm.org/permaculture/pclinks.html
Earth Haven Ecovillage: http://www.earthaven.org/

Ecovillages of the Earth:Here is a link to a page where you can search for ecovillages all over the earth. Have fun: http://ena.ecovillage.org/English/index.html

Here are some of the comments to a prior discusssion on this subject

The conversation in the last few days started with a post by comfrey:,

As springtime is about new beginnings, so is Dignity Village about new ideas. The weekend of April 26 & 27 will see yet another good idea developed at the village, and this one will be another of long standing interest to the larger comunity in Portland. The new project is a prototype for urban sustainability which will surely pique the interest of citizens, designers, builders, business people, and neighborhood and city leaders. An idea long pursued but never before realized in Portland, Dignity Village is about to build a residential strawbale prototype!

Here is a link to the rest of the story: http://portland.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=62228&group=webcast

Comment #1
Build the shire in the city
Z 9:26am Sat Apr 26 '03

This is awesome. Ever since I first read about the "Shire" in Tolkien's "The Hobbit", I thought it would be cool to live in a round, earthen or natural fiber home. I thought it would be cool to live in a whole village of these earthen homes. After viewing and helping to create natural buildings last summer, I realize that we could indeed create natural living spaces within the city. No one should be homeless. The buildings we are forced to live in now are mostly toxic. They are being built with the last remnants of a great ecological biosphere.

My dream is to create neighborhoods (shires) which embrace permaculture principles. Each shire would raise it's own food and trade what is extra to other shires. Within each shire would be a place for children, elders, families and singles. There would be a place for our animal family members. No one person would be responsible for the growing of food or building of buildings. Small schools would be in place in each shire (neighborhood) and these schools would network with other small schools to cooperate on some learning experiences. Everyone in the community would be invited to teach something. The Shire would be organized around principles of unity instead of rules of order. Cooperation instead of control.

Each shire would have a healing space where people would learn to heal themselves and practice healty lifestyles. Those who are birthing or exiting the world would get to stay in their own homes and have a community and family to be with them. Noone would birth or exit alone.

People would be able to learn whatever craft they wanted, at whatever stage of life they wanted. Craft not used in the shire would be bartered outside to other shires.

People would be encouraged to create and play. Music would be a group process rather than having others come and be the expert while we watch passively. A time for Poetry, writing and art would be set aside each day and would be look upon as more of the work we all do to make community.

This is part of my dream. Are there others who have a dream that is non-violent, non-patriarchial, creative and cooperative?

Comment #2

I'm with ya, Z
Harpyr 11:58am Sat Apr 26 '03

I hear your dream Z and I wanted you to know that I share the same vison myself. Today I'm off to Earth Activist Training to find out ways to make the dream a reality!


Comment #3

Dear Mr. Pessimist
NoxianYork 2:05pm Sat Apr 26 '03

To the pessimist worrying about sewage, garbage, medicine. People were not desperate before the create of sewer systems garbage systems or modern medicine. The benefit of these systems is in question. Sewage systems pollute clean water and waste valuable nutriants. Yes, your shit is nutritious... to plants. Garbage systems move and hide rubbish, they do nothing productive with it. Modern medicine has benefits but lacks compassion, love, and personal connection, all have been proven to assist in healing. Modern medicine has also spawned the drug industry. An industry that through its economic prowess and lobbying power is now making it impossible for the majority of the world to take advantage of its benefits.

These systems are not all bad, but they need to change. Also these systems are not the only way things can be done. Instead of sewer systems and human excretement can be composted with other organic waste and greywater from dishwashing and bathing can be routed into artificial wetlands for treatment. Most of the world does not have access to modern medicine and while some places do have severe and tragic problems the ENTIRE world is not in a desperate position for health care.


Comment #4

Good Luck
Composter 4:34pm Sat Apr 26 '03

Yeah I agree, we should recycle most of our waste including human waste. After a few months we can use it for composting in gardens or orchards.

Good luck with this project.


Comment #5

soil is shit
mamansita 6:47am Sun Apr 27 '03

hell yeah mikeb and z. we can live the dream.

as for the cynic, we lived your way and it makes us sick. time to take the power out of the "experts" hands who care more for their payment than your heath and use our strong competent hands with self-responsibilty and a healing touch.

homepage: homepage: http://www.cityrepair.org/

My thoughts 27.Apr.2003 20:06

wanting greener

I like your ideas and visions, but, like most people, I have started out small. I scavenged a foam box from a dumpster, got some soil, put the soil in the box and some seeds in the soil. Now I have carrots and chives growing on my balcony (the only space I have access to). It sure beats having an empty concrete space.

My goal is to fill my entire balcony with food producing plants (and supporting plants to manage pests), with a little space for a seat so I can sit and enjoy my new surroundings.

BTW, I don't live in portland, I live in Sydney, Australia, and I don't know of any collectives around here, so for the moment I'm doing this solo.

I like the idea of guerilla gardening, I've already sussed out some spots where I can whack some seeds in, so I might do that soon, before the winter sets in.

To Wanting Greener 28.Apr.2003 06:46

Green Thumb

It is difficult to grow plants in a small space and have them thrive. Here's a tip. Use Yerba Mate as a fertilizer. You probably know what Yerba Mate is, but just in case you don't... It is a leaf that is brewed and drunk like tea. It is sold as an "herbal tea." Just drink a cup, then open the used tea bag and put the used leaves into the soil. The effect on the plants is almost immediate!

I haven't used them with vegetables plants, but only with my potted house plants. It is amazing! And it is all natural.

I love this stuff 28.Apr.2003 10:41


This subject has become so dear to me. I see the growing permaculture movement as something that actually gives us hope while the rest of our resistence is carried out in the shadow of a looming ecological/social apocolypse. Yeah!

my apartment is growing fine 28.Apr.2003 12:25


Hey, I have pots, trays, baking pans filled with seed beds for my new plants. I then plant them in all sorts of pots, pans and containers I recyled from the streets. I put them all over my balcony and in window sills.

I plant my cooking herbs in window sills so i can have fresh herbs anytime I want.

I plant squash and cucumbers along the railing of my balcony and tie up the vines as they begin to grow. By the end of the summer the squash and cukes are sitting on the rail top all ready to harvest. The squash flowers are large and beautiful and the drape over the edge of the railing.

I put tomato plants in big pots, stake them up and let them grow. Everytime I want a salad, I just go out on the balcony and pick a sweet tomatoe.

I have long trays set up for my lettuce and greens. I have carrots growing in plastic dish pans with drainage holes drilled in the bottom.

Once my balcony garden is planted I get visits from lady bugs and other creatures. It's really awesome to watch.

weeds, seeds, greens, grains, and beans 28.Apr.2003 19:47


and do not forget the weeds that are some of the best medicines out there. dandelion, burdock, mullein, comfrey, my dear, to name but a few. they are all delicious and nutritios. as they grow on mostly barren abused land, they are designed to heal and repair nature's lushousness. and our own bodies, too of course.

food not lawns! weeds are beautiful. just like me and you.
i think we can learn some things from the oppressed, irrepressible, scraggly healers of the world.

i'm sick of all these pampered pansies. they wouldnt last a month in the wild.

as for people who balk at "primitive" culture, might as well be prepared, you know?

why count on some one who does not care for you to care for all your basic needs. i do not trust the corrent controllers of the food industries, water distribution, or medical profession. they have proven time and again to have their own best-interests in mind.

no. i wanna know where these essential life-giving substances come from. how they are produced and by who.

by who. all wee little peeples of the trees and soil.

so plant your neighbors yard today. we gotta get some spaces of our own. many decntralized cooperative locations.
much love, hope, and anticipation of sunkissed cheeks, freckles, and strong backs- one and all

oh and on the shit issue,
i would rather bury it fist, dig it up later. what's the big rush. my compost pile gets no animal products cuz they stink and attract predatory species- health officials included. and shit doesnt smell so nice.

altho us non-meaters shit absolutely smells better than all you carnivors! sweat and other body fluids too. i challenge you in a blind test. yep, thas' right! my shit don't even stink!

better to be full of yourse;f than someone else, i always say.

so thanks for the uplift, good folk. i will build and cook and plant with you'all.
anyone got a good recipe for dandelion wine?

This is what we need 07.May.2003 23:16


The ideas presented in this article are great. This is what we need to be doing, is set up a system that is totally seperate from the present government. We need our own community with our own standards, so that we do not have to depend on the corporate world for anything. I will bet you that this system would end up winning over the world eventually and saving it at the sametime. We all need to get involved.