Making Urban Permaculture Happen

I’m very impressed by a recent project undertaken by Joshua Feyen, also known as the Urbane Farmer ( A city homeowner right here in Madison, WI at 1933 E. Mifflin, he planned and coordinated a work day to plant a fruit forest in his 30’x30′ front yard. He sketched out a plan, had two trees removed, collected a huge amount of materials, and coordinated many volunteers to come and help for four hours. They made berms and swales, laid down sheet mulch, planted fruit trees and shrubs, and throughout the whole project, made a time-lapse video!

That orchard planting is what permaculture is all about. What was once a useless plot of grass was transformed into a productive and healthy area. Permaculture design principles were mindfully considered to create a plan. Resources not typically utilized by many city dwellers were gathered together to revitalize the land. People worked together in the spirit of progress. I’m sure there were many details to plan, research to do, challenges to overcome, and perhaps some doubts along the way, but that’s what we all need to face to save our planet, one project at a time.

As my husband and I go about planning projects around our house, we often find ourselves getting stuck. Part of it is finding time since we have two little kids, but part of it is also identifying the best techniques and resources. We want to remove the landscaping timbers on one side of the house, but an axe and wrecking bar barely make a dent. We want to add soil on the south corner of the house, but where can we get good soil at a good price? I want our vegetable garden to be a success, but which obstacles should we tackle first? How do we plant around a large fruit tree without disturbing its roots and where can I get some comfrey? There are many questions along the way for each project and it’s not easy to put together all the puzzle pieces to make a project happen quickly and successfully. But we must try to keep moving forward.

Thank you to Joshua Feyen for this inspiring project and for documenting the process so that others can learn from it!


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