4 reasons Permaculture installations can reshape and refresh your city and neighbourhood.

November 03 ,2016 BY Nova Nelson

Since digging into Permaculture Design in 2013, I noticed mundane neglected voids, nooks and corners in my urban setting with a keen eye. You know, empty spaces next to pathways, sidewalks, by culverts, back alleys, roof terraces, behind bus stops, intersections and avenues. Those public and private spaces that could be wonderful and alive but are unproductive and uninspiring. Permaculture has made me reframe the lack of space "problem" as an opportunity. I imagine all these spaces as a collective network of opportunities. Opportunities for fascinating ecological gardens.

1. Small spaces are everywhere.

When I talk to people about growing food in the city, references are made to large roof top gardens and urban farms. While those are important, cities also need small scale ecological interventions that can create impact without the need for a huge shake up to the space.

To explore and demonstrate possibilities I've spent time the past two years working on what I like to call a series of Pocket Permaculture installations. These small installations have manifested as small gardens from petite 3ft by 2ft mini planter systems, making and installing 18 inch self watering pipe planters for edible greens, turning an unused sandpit into a children's garden, creating a hugulkulture mount, key hole raised bed, balcony gardening, community gardening to creating a stacked sub irrigation planter system in a mall strip.

I want to give others an approach to creating small green spaces that are enriching. Accessible gardens that will connect them to nature and growing food.

2. You'll create an ecosystem and a community.

Nature can do a thousand things. This is why Permaculture installations are multidimensional. The best Permaculture gardens include a series of interconnected elements designed with careful observation that'll make a landscape fascinating, productive, and ecologically sound. The garden has to be designed to use less water, yield harvest, offer beauty, renew, fertilise and enrich soil and even clean the air and scent it along the way too.

Always with a local context in mind in a Permaculture garden is created by bring together various disciplines such as design, urban farming, carpentry, art, cooking, education, science, photography the list goes on. This multidimensional approach helps us work with children and communities in a broader sense. Each installation draws in different individuals, age groups, talent and interests. So, in creating a Permaculture garden you also create a wonderful environment for community action.

3. Natural systems that'll connect you to nature

Permaculture installations will draw you in. Why? These gardens, however small are designed to include natural systems and elements. Permaculture design turns to nature for design. It provides lessons on self- resilience and a gentle plea for creative problem solving and collaborating with nature and each other. These ecological gardens are packed with timeless traditional food growing techniques that can be adapted creatively in the context of a city to help us use less resources, store more energy, renew and enrich the environment. These small gardens can be packed with practical solutions beyond sustainability.

Vivid, alive and packed with fruit and edible greens it will give you a place to stop, wonder and celebrate nature. It can connect the young and old, commuters, marginalised communities, neighbourhoods to an ecological garden. It'll share with you the beauty in biodiversity and harvest. It'll give you a space to experience the full life cycle of growing your own food. Permaculture gardens and installations are spaces that works with nature and welcomes you as part of an ecosystem.

4. A backdrop for education, events and engagement

Vivid and alive with nature, food, art and design Pocket Permaculture installations would be a wonderful idea as a backdrop for events and a gathering space. Because there are plenty of small spaces lying idle around us in the city, these installations can be made accessible to different walks of life. The installation can create a charming neighbourly space filled with opportunities for volunteerism and public activities. Even a space to learn, teach or practice a skill. This is why we will continue to devote our time towards helping others create their own Pocket Permaculture gardens.

Nova Nelson

Nova Nelson started Cultivate Central in 2013 after transitioning from a career in Corporate Communications, content creation and community engagement. As a Permaculture Designer she believes a city filled with vibrant, ecological and compact urban gardens will create socially and environmentally connected communities. As a mother she is passionate about exploring Permaculture with children and their communities. She serves clients and communities in Malaysia, where she was born and Singapore where she currently resides.

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