alternate pathways, tree roots and looking up

front walkway through vegetable beds integrated among perennials backyard pathway leading to wooded area and driveway pathway al...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

permaculture, human flow, cultivated ecology


In the case of this new property we will be attempting to return a landscape to a more natural state. But we must also acknowledge the systems and flows that enter and leave the space.

I always begin with human flow. When you design your landscape you need to first look at the pathways and uses for the space, both current and intended. The greatest impact on the space will come from you. Permaculture deals not only with plants and animals but also buildings and infrastructures. It is aimed at creating systems for the long term, so I am taking my time to learn the systems. While permaculture is based on good ecological models we are creating a cultivated ecology.

Part of the struggle that I am facing comes from the property lines and community. The edge of your property is where two environments intersect. This intersection may be fluid or rigid. In the past we have always enjoyed fluid intersections but there are several rigid intersections on this property, the most prominent being a major arterial road in front of the home. We need to create a balance, allowing privacy without completely cutting off the home from interaction with neighbors. I have written previously about the flow to the back door. We would like to decrease the neighborhood traffic to the backdoor, while maintaining access to a planned kitchen garden.

This morning I found myself down one of those long internet surfs starting with animal ordinances, and my desire for laying hens, through zoning ordinances and finally the city comprehensive plan. Analyzing the site components (water, soil, landscape, climate, plants) and energy components (connections, structures, sources, technologies) is a bit easier than the social components (people, cultural, legal, economics). And then there are abstract components like timing and materials.

We are purposely moving slower on this project to understand the current flow and map and build our intended flow. We also want to minimize impact on established bird habitat.