One of the big gaps in our permaculture literature is material about the urban landscape. Perhaps this is because cities are huge and we feel little control over how we live in them, yet there are examples of wonderful urban permaculture projects all over the world.
The Transition Movement has done much to explore how we can live in a more low impact way in the urben environment by taking control of our energy, housing, gardens and farms. The permablitz movement is an example of how small groups of people can help each other transform private and community gardens. If we can build community and learn how to help each other, there are many advantages. Gardening together and forming cooperative ventures such a relocalised renewable generation and Community Supported Agriculture are examples.. What we need are templates we can adapt in every part of the world to suit our circumstances.
Toby Hemenway, celebrated author of Gaia’s Garden, systematically shows us an urban landscape with gardens, food, energy systems and architecture that can sustain itself. He details the design principles, the technologies and techniques for growing, animals, water harvesting, renewable energy systems – all the elements you need for greater community self-reliance.
In typical Hemenway style, this is measured, detailed and well researched information with good examples with the addition of his own personal experience as well.
He is a great teacher and writer. Beyond these vital elements, he also creates a template for a new kind of city: a human scale collection of village communities where quality of life is valued above quantity of output.
With the majority of the human race becoming city dwellers, this is vital information for a more collaborative, intelligent and resilient urban landscape, one that will enable us to face serious challenges we are experiencing now, such extreme weather, food insecurity, fuel poverty, and increasingly in the future.
Maddy Harland is the editor of Permaculture magazine.
Watch: Re-greening urban deserts
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