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Suburban strategy for designing with neighbors  RSS feed

 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2124
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bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
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Hello Andrew,
It was nice to see your presentation at the NW Permaculture Convergence. Do you have any strategies for trying to include neighbors in cooperative designs? I am thinking about areas of shade, pollination of fruit trees/corn, animals/manure,etc, especially in light of the present reality that not all of our neighbors are necessarily as obsessed with permaculture as we are?
THanks
John S
PDX OR
 
Kim Hill
Posts: 78
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Great question. I live on a very small suburban lot which was influenced by the neighbors very overgrown trees which caused shade issues to my gardens. After a summer's worth of fresh fruit and veggies I very politely asked if we could trim the trees that caused the most problems. The neighbor was more than happy to let us trim the trees and assisted with the clean up. It is an easy way to get those that live closest to you see the benefits of mutual cooperation. Just a small, simple idea to get you headed toward your goals. Good luck. Kim
 
Andrew Millison
Instructor
Posts: 112
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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John,
Thanks for posting. The convergence was an awesome gathering!

I live on a suburban-scale lot (1/3 acre) in town, so I've thought a lot about how to include my neighbors, both willing and unwilling

Your neighbors may or may not be reachable in their current state of mind or foggy illusion they live in But their kids are definitely highly susceptible to the Permaculture patterning. So at my place, I make sure that the edges of the property are highly interactive with the neighborhood kids. This means food growing along the sidewalk in abundance, places to meander and sit, and dimensions of interest as they peer into your garden.

Here's a few of pics of my place with street side view:







I believe strongly in the "if you build it, they will come". People are like mice in a maze, if you provide a place to sit, we meet and talk. If you put food on the street, we stop and nibble. Those small connections and conversations are the foundation for neighbors knowing each other, and then the synergies that come from there.

Once we are eating berries together and I give you a jar of my honey, we can talk about that laurel hedge that's shading my persimmon tree. And then on to more touchy issues of how your GMO corn pollen is polluting my seed. Good relationships are built on connections over commonalities.
 
Trish Wright
Posts: 16
Location: Roanoke, VA
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Andrew, I love the idea of the benches at the street. I live at the top of a steep hill and am planning to put a seating area on the steep slope in front of my house at the street. It will be appreciated by those that climb that hill!!

John, I've been working on building a sense of community in my neighborhood. Some problems prompted me to start up a neighborhood watch program and we meet at the neighborhood church. Besides the standard neighborhood watch issues we've also discussed community disaster needs. In addition, I have proposed making a children's learning garden at the church to give neighborhood kids something to do and learn. The church loves the idea of us having the garden on their lot and other neighbors are interested in helping. We've also discussed creating a services/barter system where everyone can list their trade/skills. I can trade apples for electrical repair, or crochet a shawl for a gift in exchange for their pottery. (Just examples) We're just beginning but it looks very promising. I've also discussed sharing fruit tree growing with my immediate neighbor who said they had planted 2 fruit trees that were taken over by honeysuckle vine from the neighbor behind them. Just opening up conversation and offering ideas is often welcomed.

Leading by example is always a good thing, when they see the beauty and benefit, many will come around. If you have chickens, offer them fresh organic eggs!
 
Kim Hill
Posts: 78
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Andrew thank you for sharing your pictures. It gives me hope that permaculture will work on a smaller scale. Most of what I have seen concentrates on large acreages. It is good to see that it works on smaller pieces.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6781
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I see many suburban neighbors who cooperate in regard to shade, fences and preserving sight lines. The large properties allow for a feeling of privacy even when no fence or hedge defines borders. Wildlife roam freely and neighborly interaction tends to not concern property line infringement or other negative issues.

Many homes near the city center have smaller lots and they seek privacy by building tall wooden fences. Gardens in this area are often starved of light. They are shaded by these fences and by closely spaced buildings. This zone has a more transient population with many renters who plan to move once schooling is finished or they buy their own place. Many grow nothing to eat but some would like to fill every crevice if only they could get some light. I've often questioned owners of particularly tall fences and found that they were built because of some problem that is long gone. Sometimes the problem was a bad neighbor or a party house. Some built a fence to define their space before trees and hedges were mature. Many are on perfectly good terms with everyone around them and the fence was something they inherited when they moved in.

I have had the pleasure of removing some awful looking fences. Some were replaced with chain link, which is conducive to growing climbers and allowing air and light to flow through. One young couple in the Fernwood area had taken over the garden belonging to a very old neighbor. They were the best of friends. When we ripped down the fence, the sum of the whole was much nicer than the two little yards had been separately. Children and dogs roam the whole place now and two gardens that backed onto a fence have become one..
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1320
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Great great topic, as permaculture is not closing oneself in self-sufficiency.
Creating any richness ALONE leads to creating envy and stealing.

...and this is exactly the package we got in our society.

Welcome to ideas to reverse the trend!

At the moment I share my avocados because it is not easy to have some until September as I have.
I give them when they are expensive in shops.
My place is not suburban, so my tips would be very different.
I think I need to make benches too, and COMPOST TOILETS!
At the moment tourists are leaving many white light pieces of toilet papers near the paths...
With neighbours?
I learn to milk goats so that I can help a neighbor whenever he needs.
All who have a female tree need that one does not cut his male one...
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1320
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Ho, I see another point of common help: making seeds.
If we do not let different varieties flower at the same time, then we can maintain our varieties.

If I am only lazy and do not car that my forgotten radishes flower, I might annoy a neighbor without even thinking about it.

So, the 1st thing I see, is that we can sometimes help or disturb in good faith.
So, let's care about this, try to see how WE disturb, and how we can tell a neighbor he disturbs (without aggressing him).
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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