Monthly Archives: February 2012

Haultain Common: Planning a Permaculture Food Forest

Last week’s work party at the Haultain Common saw us learning to repair irrigation systems, checking out the bones of the garden before spring growth explodes, and escaping the cold weather by sitting inside drinking mint tea and starting to work on our garden plan for the year.

The Common is in a transitional stage between what most folks think of as a traditional vegetable garden and a permaculture food forest model of growing.   If you’re new to the food forest model, it can be explained as a garden that “mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural forest. Food forests are not ‘natural’, but are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity.”

It’s exciting to be working on an urban community garden with such a natural structure.  The Common already has a fair number of plants in place that can be fit into such a system (artichokes, goumis, gojis, blackcurrants, blueberries, walking onions, oregano, borage, calendula), so our major challenge is to figure out how to arrange them all in the most mutually beneficial structure.  As well, there are a lot of shady areas in the Common, and we’re trying to figure out what would do best in those conditions.  If you’re interested in helping out, our next planning meeting will be Sunday March 11 at 2:30 pm (see our Upcoming Events page for more details).  We welcome folks with any level of gardening and permaculture experience — we’re all figuring it out as we go, so don’t feel you need to be a pro-star to come contribute!

As I start to do my research for this project, I pulled out my trusty copy of Gaia’s Garden:  A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway.  Hemenway does an amazing job of introducing ecological gardening principles in a way that is thorough but not overwhelming, and his plentiful ideas of how to institute permaculture on a backyard scale are both extremely practical and extremely inspiring.  I recommend giving this book a read if you haven’t already!

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Urban Permaculture: Small Space and Portable Solutions, Saturday March 3rd, 4:30-6 pm

Fascinated by permaculture, but wondering how you can possibly implement all those great ideas in an apartment that changes every 8 months? Drooling over other people’s giant backyard food gardens, and wishing you could grow more food on your balcony or windowsill? Wondering what this permaculture thing is anyway? Then this workshop is for you! For so many of us young people who are passionate about living sustainably in the city and growing our own food, it can sometimes feel impossible to implement it all in our transient lives and small, temporary living spaces. This workshop will tackle this conundrum as we work together to discover ways to implement permacultural principles and grow food in the small, and ever changing spaces of our lives. We will be doing some hands on work with container gardening and sprouting to get you started, and all participants will leave with a planted container that will grow food as well as a jar of seeds that will grow yummy sprouts.

Cost: $5

Location: the straw bale building at the Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre, 1216 North Park St

Please email slugs.coordinator@gmail.com to register.

Planning to Preserve

Thanks to everyone who attended our garden planning workshop this past Monday.  It was great to share ideas, bounce questions off each other, and even bust out the coloured pencils and markers to start envisioning our gardens.

Everyone seems to have a different approach when planning their gardens:  some of us work from necessity (perhaps we have a small and shady space and need to figure out what will thrive in those conditions), some work from the amount of time we have to devote to gardening at each point in the year, and some of us just like to think about what we want to eat and work from there.

For those of us who love to eat and are interested in canning and preserving as well, I found a great resource from a woman named Foy who planned her garden around what she wanted to preserve for the winter.  She put together a fantastic guide, including creative suggestions for what to put up and how as well as how to get all the supplies you need and stay organised through the whole growing season.  Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 on her excellent blog.

Haultain Common Work/Planning Party, Saturday February 25, 2:30-4:00 pm

I’m excited to announce that SLUGS will be partnering with the Haultain Common for our 2012 season!  We will at the Common once or twice each month, mixing work parties with mini workshops and generally having awesome times learning the basics of boulevard gardening and urban permaculture food forests.  SLUGS participants will be involved with planning and planting the garden, as well as harvesting the tasty results (an extra bonus for those of us who don’t have our own home gardens).

Saturday February 25th will be our first work party of the season, and we will be focusing on transplanting some plants that need moving as well as looking over the “bones” of the garden and deciding where we would like to take it for the upcoming growing season.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Location:  1420 Haultain St

Cost:  free!

Just a quick reminder that SLUGS is a program for 13-30 year olds. If you are in this age range, we would be stoked to see you at our events!