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.

6 thoughts on “Living in the Garden”

  1. Love this, Greg. We have a huge opportunity to turn our public spaces into edible, aesthetically pleasing, and more functional spaces that are better for everybody (and every other life form). Taking these ideals and applying them through design, construction, growth and harvest this year is super exciting… keep the mission up!

  2. May I just say how proud I am of all of you. you are an inspiration for so many young people and people of all ages. In these seemingly dark times, a bright light has manifested. For the obvious light that you nurture within yourselves, I thank you humbly. I am a natural healthcare provider in La Prairie. Please contact me if you need my assistance. I live to serve.

  3. Yes. We must push for sustainability, as in that which sustains us as well as being sustainable. I agree wholeheartedly. I am on 200 acres, yet find no one wants to visit my “eden” because I may have them “help out.” They do like the fresh veggies I bring them, though. So we must bring it to the people. The children must see that their food is part of nature. Not from a store. Nature should be their nourishment, literally and figuratively. Keep teaching.

  4. Imagine… If all the public areas were planted with hardy edibles like mint, raspberry patches, etc…

    Imagine what impact that could have on hunger for our poor and homeless. Hungry children in our urban city centers could have access to wild but intentionally planted food.

    Imagine the impact on obesity if soccer moms and kids could pick a few handfuls of raspberries after the kids soccer game, rather than stopping for fast food.

    Instead of grass, useless strands of grass, we could have delicious smelling and hard to kill mint growing along our freeways! And mint is beautiful and helps to prevent soil erosion.
    Imagine rolling down your car window and smelling glorious mint after a spring rain instead of road fumes!

    Some great ideas!

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