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Living in the Garden

Japanese Tea Garden, Living in the Garden

The following is an excerpt from the most useful and insightful book The Permaculture Handbook by Peter Bane.

Photo by Thomas Falkowski.

A Permaculture Pattern Language

Living in the Garden


Humans claim our place in nature through the garden. Our urban settlements are now for the most part desolate and eroding landscapes that produce no food. Culture in these places is inherently groundless and shallow where it survives at all. Food security and a collective sense of well-being will both be served by the planting and tending of edible landscapes everywhere people live and gather. These create useful work, shape humane spaces, heal soil ad soul at the same time and bolster physical and economic prosperity.


Therefore, plant productive trees, shrubs and other perennials along streets, in parks and around public buildings. Encourage grazing and harvesting for home use. Invite neighborhoods to take stewardship of public plantings. Give away edible perennials to support the spread of small orchards and forest gardens. Fruit gathering and gleaning is an entry-level opportunity for young entrepreneurs to build social capital. Have some patience, sponsor city food fairs and get local chefs involved.

To manifest this pattern more fully, plant and maintain a fabric of many useful and edible perennials over the broader region, encourage respectful use of the wild and public landscapes and foster development of small land care enterprises. Let all roadways and parking lots be bordered with fruits or nuts and nurture the growth of soils and ecosystems by the regenerative power of trees. Surround those crop trees with supporting plants. Also, maintain grasslands, lawns and meadows with animals whenever practical.

Help spread the psychological benefit of this pattern by making many spaces for public and private gathering out-of-doors. Ensure soil fertility by vigorous cycling of biomass.