Growing an Abundance of Food in the City Using Permaculture

Kat Lavers demonstrates that it is possible to produce a meaningful amount of food on a standard sized urban block at The Plummery. The entire block including the house is 280 square meters but the food producing area is only 100 square meters. 

She lives with her partner and WWOOFERS, spending only four hours a week on average maintaining the garden. The abundance comes from close observation and planting densely with a tight rotation system.

They also keep quails because there is not enough space for chickens. The quails produce eggs and nitrogen rich manure for the edible garden.  

Rather than aiming to be self-sufficient, they aim for community dependence where most of their diet comes from the Plummery or within their bioregion. 

Growing food at The Plummery is Kat Laver’s experiment on how to regain a connection to the land in the context of a city. 

Adventure of the Orangutan Permaculture Street Theatre

This street theatre performance had a powerful impact on the imagination of a community in Central Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia, in 2016.

Applying the permaculture philosophy of “the problem is the solution”, Permakultur Kalimantan Foundation (YPK) and Curious Legends teamed up to work with over 200 children and 30 local community members to show that we created the environmental and social problems of today but we can also fix them.

Permakultur Kalimantan Foundation (YPK) was established to make permaculture education and training accessible to communities in Central Kalimantan to improve land management, increase community resilience and food security, support sustainable livelihoods and culture and help to conserve the natural environment in the region. Find out more at 

Designing Regenerative Cultures

Morag Gamble is in conversation here with Daniel Christian Wahl about bioregional development and his book, Designing Regenerative Cultures.

Wahl begins with, “the scale at which you can create a really regenerative and sustainable system is bioregional and not quite so small as I had thought for fifteen years. Self-sufficiency is a story that a lot of people get into at the beginning, but if you want to create resilience you have to create it with lots of people in your region and with lots of communities in your region.” Later in the conversation he emphasises the need for regenerative work to be accessible to everyday people who live in urban areas.

He encourages a focus on the “biocultural uniqueness of place” where each regenerative culture will express itself differently according to the specific ecology, people and history of that place. The aim is to create the capacity in the local people to live in a way that leaves it more bioproductive, more abundant and healthier than what they received from their forebearers.

Wahl highlights an important process of working regeneratively is through capacity building. This requires a view of education as a lifelong process of drawing out our potential as time and context changes. He goes on to describe ideally learning through multidisciplinary projects that teach a combination of social, economic and ecological literacy. Alongside rethinking how we educate our children, Wahl touches on the need to upskill millions of people who are already in the workforce.

I love his phrase, “We are the regeneration rising.” What he means by it is that rather than using slogans that come from a place of fear, we come from a place of hope to tap into people’s creativity and reach across the silos we currently function in.

Wahl also points to the value of making regenerative work visible to each other to cross pollinate ideas. He is specifically thinking of the role artists can play in sharing stories and questions. And in doing so, thinking in a “Yes, and” rather than a “No, but” way. (I thought to myself, “A ha! Just like improv comedians do.) Don’t focus too much on the little differences but celebrate the diversity of opinion.

I wonder if volunteering at an urban farm or community garden is considered capacity building in an urban context. It is something I can engage in with my kids on the weekend that is not necessarily predicated on having money and is fun and social. I wonder what else would be capacity building for us.