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Visible urban permaculture: show us how gardening can take over the city

 
pollinator
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One thing I love is being very visible about my urban gardening activities. It's the best conversation opener, and it gets people curious about how cities could change. It's my little act of activism: fighting back against cars, concrete and manicured lawns, one little act of gardening at the time.

Today's activity: carrying free straw to the school garden with my trusty bike. It's actually a very efficient system because the trailer can pull exactly where I need it to. The weakest point on the system are clearly my own two puny arms. I would not want to haul twenty bales one by one like this, but for a short distance (1 km) and a few bales, it was just perfect for an end-of-day workout, and probably not longer than doing it with a car.

But best of all, lots of the school kids and parents saw me, asked questions, and I might have recruited a few new volunteers.

How are you making permaculture visible in your urban area? Show us your front yard gardens and active transportation modes.
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pollinator
Posts: 195
Location: Powell River, BC
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Love the bike delivery!

This was our front yard flint corn patch at the halfway point, last year.
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Flint corn patch 6’ x 16’
Flint corn patch 6’ x 16’
 
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: KY - Zone 6b (near border of 6a), Heat Zone 7, Urban habitat
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A few years back I would never have considered signs. I mean...I already know what's going on here. But I was out and saw a pollinator habitat sign on a planting I was parked beside. I had a long wait for someone so I just hung out. I probably saw a dozen groups talk about the signs and have lengthy conversations including things like wondering where to start, how to get seeds, etc. So, I now have some pollinator habitat signs. I do it both for spurring discussions as well as maybe getting away with some other non-lawn activities. I still get folks who hate it, but it's amazing the difference in discussions. I've even given away a mess of seeds and plants to passers by. So, if pollinators can be the bridge, so be it. Gardening already has it's draws but some people don't want to grow food. That's fine. If they start tearing up lawns to foster pollinators, great! Some folks want to do both. So, while I don't normally proselytize, maybe this is some low-key proselytizing.

I think we've taken out roughly 65-70% of the lawn to build beds, etc. Major mods are still underway. I'm not that concerned about the stuff in the back because people can't see it. But in the front, well...public sidewalks also bring public busybodies complaining about the lack of golf course lawns, colors, etc. So, I have to be careful about presentation. It can be a little wilder than what passes for normal as long as I can provide some eye candy. I give away produce and plants as well so that has resulted in a number of people trying gardening as well as some veterans expanding gardens. I collect many pounds of seeds and after I distribute to smaller growers, a lot goes to other agencies and NGOs for habitat restoration. Anything else gets um...well...set free.
 
Kevin Wilson
pollinator
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Location: Powell River, BC
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That’s very interesting, to hear about the discussions started by the signs. I’m putting in a new front yard pollinator garden this year, so will have to include some signs!
 
pollinator
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Here is a quick montage of some of the community gardens in DC, most left over from WWII (our old plot from years ago marked). I know I’ve missed some and the images are not all the same scale.

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master pollinator
Posts: 480
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
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This year I've started a whole lot of extra plants to give away for free on a table in my front yard on the weekends.  I've already given away about 40 strawberry plants and a whole lot of spare seed packets to beginning gardeners, listing them on my NextDoor website.   I'm hoping this encourages more people to go ahead and give raising food a try!   I've also got some small tree seedlings,  fruit bush cuttings, and flowers as well as veg. and herbs.  
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master pollinator
Posts: 2630
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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I think adding white/dutch clover to a front lawn is a fine guerilla way to create pollinator habitat. Especially in busybody or covenant neighbourhoods. The bees love it. So do the rabbits.

I find that mowing high and regularly causes the clover to adapt, flowering below the cut line. We're on a hill, so we mow it as a highly necessary firebreak.
 
echo minarosa
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: KY - Zone 6b (near border of 6a), Heat Zone 7, Urban habitat
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Depends on where you are I guess. Here, clover dies off in the Fall and all winter long anywhere there was clover turns into mud. We are active in the garden year-round so for that reason alone, while we have clover, we hate it come winter.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
master pollinator
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Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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Good point. I was thinking of grass plus clover. Around here that creates a pretty stable sod layer. I would add it to our upper lawn which is in a sort of courtyard, but DW won't let me. But I have lots of other places.
 
echo minarosa
pollinator
Posts: 245
Location: KY - Zone 6b (near border of 6a), Heat Zone 7, Urban habitat
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Not permaculture in the strict sense but here is last year. The lawn trembles when I walk by. Hopefully, even more substantial changes are on tap for 2021.
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2020 backyard aerial.
2020 backyard aerial.
 
Kevin Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 195
Location: Powell River, BC
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This is a permaculture project that I was part of at a local church, back in 2012. The whole project was and still is right on the street in the old Townsite. (Am trying to find some current photos to show how it's developed... may have to take a bus down there and snap some new ones!)

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Tools and materials in the parking lot. Huge pile of cardboard!
Tools and materials in the parking lot. Huge pile of cardboard!
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We kidnapped a passing truck full of grass clippings!
We kidnapped a passing truck full of grass clippings!
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Planting up
Planting up
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Bench built from dying tree that was taken down
Bench built from dying tree that was taken down
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Community potluck and raising of the Peace Pole in the garden
Community potluck and raising of the Peace Pole in the garden
 
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