Permaculture can be practiced at any scale. Even if you live in an apartment in the city, you can find ways to reduce your impact on the environment, grow some of your own food, and be more efficient with your ‘waste.’ City living tends to create the need for more social permaculture, meaning cooperation at a community level. Community gardens, composting programs, city park food forests, and so on are more feasible ways of practicing urban permaculture than trying to grow everything for yourself.
Jeff is a director for the non-profit group Orlando Permaculture and an online science educator for International Connections Academy. His method of teaching science to middle schoolers incorporates aspects of permaculture and environmental issues. Bringing this kind of awareness to young people is crucial to the cause of healing our world, so it's encouraging to know that many students are getting exposure to these topics, thanks to the efforts of people like Jeff and forward thinking educational institutions like the International Connections Academy.
Jeff actually lives his permaculture practice, which is obvious as soon as you pull up to his house. Jeff lives in a suburban neighborhood, on one tenth of an acre, which is a great example of how much can be done on a fairly small scale. His whole yard is smaller than the garden area we created out at Dodge Road, but he probably still produces more food from his land. Of course, having a year-round growing season helps, but another aspect is growing perennials, and choosing varieties that are big producers. Yams. Squash. Meringa. Too many to name.
Jeff’s project was only a few years old, but he’s already pulling in lots of fruit from his papaya trees, and he had several berry bushes that are also very productive. He also made good use of vertical space, setting up nets around his trees for squash and yams to grow up and creating trellises and portable growing towers. He explains all this in the video tour I did with him, so I’ll leave it to him to go over it all.
Other things of note were the nursery, which was full of young starts and potted plants, the solar dehydrator, and the solar grill, which was the nicest solar cooking device I’ve seen yet. He also catches rainwater, and he has solar panels on the roof, which lower his bills down to almost nothing on good months.
One thing he said was that if he was cut off from stores today, he would still struggle, but he would survive. Enough food was growing on that small property to feed him in perpetuity. Very little of the space he cultivates is used to grow annuals, though he had some beautiful cauliflowers, and several other garden plants like greens and tomatoes. Most of what we were looking at was perennial, with a wide assortment of edible leaves, which are super nourishing.
Do check out the videos, in which we go around the whole property and look at a whole bunch of different plants. Even for such a small property, there was no way we could have looked at and named all that he has growing, so diverse and abundant is his set up. A great example of permaculture in practice!