[permaculture] "Feeding the People" by Michael Pilarski

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Mon Jan 14 23:07:20 EST 2008

(At Michael's request I am sending this to the forum.
Hope the formatting is OK.  - LL)

Michael Pilarski,  Friends of the Trees Society

Attached is a longish article designed to: 1) introduce permaculture to
the hunger organizations in the US; 2) outline a range of social
programs that would lead to local food security; and 3) be useful to
individual permaculturists.


Feeding the People
By Michael Pilarski

January 7, 2008 version

Friends of the Trees Society

PO Box 253

Twisp, WA 98856

michael at friendsofthetrees.net

This article is on my website in a printable form.



This article is intended for a number of readerships:

1. The staff and volunteers of hunger organizations. I

would like to make you aware of some possible ways to

increase food security for your constituencies. You may

be aware of many of the social policies included here, but

less familiar with the gardening methods promoted by permaculture.

2. The permaculture movement. Permaculture has three

main ethics: a) care of people; b) care of land; c) dispersal

of surplus. Permaculturists in general are well aware of

the gardening techniques listed here, but many do not

know of the range of social programs outlined here. This

article hopes to stimulate more permaculture involvement

in serving food at-risk populations.

3. The general gardening public. All gardeners will be

well served to increase their social-justice awareness and

gardening skills. This article aims to do both.

Part I discusses some of the food crises facing the general

public and food at-risk populations in the US.

Part II lists some of the popular movements arising out of

the public to address the food crisis. Resources and examples

tend to be from the Pacific Northwest.

Part III briefly introduces permaculture and lists some

practical, on-the-ground techniques to increase local food

production. Where and how do we grow local food.

Permaculture is a design science for creating sustainable

human habitats and societies. Working with nature to

create beautiful, productive, healthy ecosystems. Building

symbiotic relationships between flora and fauna as well as

within human societies.


"All people deserve recognition and respect for their unique

value." Growing Gardens, Portland, Oregon.

“Solutions to hunger and poverty can be found at the grassroots

level and the communities have the ability to provide

for themselves if equipped with the proper resources.”

National Hunger Clearinghouse.

"Social justice requires that all the peoples of the earth have

an equal right and access to the resources of the earth; permanence

requires that all future generations - an indefinite

number of them - have the same rights too.” Winin Pereira

from the 1993 edition of his book “From Western Science

to Liberation Technology”. Earthcare Books, Bombay.

Ask any person who runs a food bank in the US and they

will tell you that the handwriting is on the wall. There was a

large surge in people showing up at food banks in 2007 and

at the same time there was a reduction in food donations. 35

million people in the USA were on food aid in 2007. To

paraphrase one writer: 'It isn't just the poor who are hungry,

now it is working people too'. We know there is going to be

a continuing wave of foreclosures in the next several years.

Most financial institutions are predicting recession while

other insiders in the financial industry are predicting another

"Great Depression" or worse. Chances are we are going to

see a lot more poor people in the USA soon. How are they

going to eat in a society with escalating food costs and a reduction

in food bank assistance? Overall food prices rose

20% in 2007 and some items even doubled in price. Bush's

administration has reduced food aid and related programs.

Even if the government decided to change its ways and provide

sufficient funds to feed everybody, what kind of food

would it provide them?

Urgency: Even more worrisome is that international food

prices went up an unprecedented 40% in 2007 after a 9% increase

in 2006. This is information from the UN FAO.

Whole nations, such as Bengladesh, are now finding themselves

in a food shortage. Food rioting is starting to happen

in Mexico and other countries. Make no mistake. This is a

deepening crisis which is likely to get much worse. 1 to 2

billion people could be facing starvation if this continues.

A world where people starve to death is no longer acceptable.

Current world food production is enough to feed everyone.

People starve to death not because there is no food

available. People starve to death because they can't afford

the food or it is withheld from them. This article outlines

some of the steps that need to be taken to decentralize food

production and make food production ecologically sound.

Heathy food grown on healthy land by healthy people in a

healthy society. Permaculture is in some ways the antithesis

of globalization. Under globalization the markets are filled

with food and things from all around the world with a mi-

Feeding People in Hard Times:

What does permaculture have to offer?

nority being produced locally. In permaculture the markets

are filled with food and things produced locally with

a minority being imported from elsewhere in the world.

Local resources used for local production, local consumption,

and, dare we say it, locally-owned. Democratic

production of the food supply is one of the requirements

for a truly free citizenry. Almost everywhere has

the capacity to be a garden of Eden with abundant

healthy food produced by local gardeners and farmers.

This article is generally addressed to the situation of

low-income, marginalized, minority, and oppressed populations.

People who are currently food at-risk. Many

people involved in the local food security movement are

motivated by a concern for future food supplies. This article

is addressed to people who are concerned about current

food supplies - eating today, this week, next month.

They may be as much as 10% of the people in the US

and between one and two billion people in the world as a

whole. Hunger has a big constituency.

Today, many low-income people live in what are called

"food deserts". A food desert has a lack of high-quality

food. Food sources are often convenience stores and gas

stations. The supermarkets there have limited choice,

poor-quality food and high prices. Food deserts are located

in inner-city areas and in numerous small towns

and rural areas around the country. No wonder that most

low-income people don't eat healthy food.

Food banks and other emergency food systems are an

important part of the food supply for many people. Food

banks give out varying qualities of food. Some of the

quality is good but lots of it is not. Still, they have to do

the best they can with what they have. The proportion of

fresh fruits and vegetables at food banks has grown a lot

in recent years as the food banks have been forging new

alliances with local farmers. Another big source of food

for the food banks are the cast-offs from the grocery industry,

mostly out-of-date and damaged cans and processed

food. This stream of supply has been greatly reduced

in recent years because now much of it is sold

through remainder grocery outlets. Another source in decline

is the USDA food commodities program which

buys excess production from farmers as part of its farm

support program and gives it to the food bank networks.

The value of the foods donated from this federal program

has dropped from around $250 millon to $150 million

in the last two years because the market for farm

products is robust and there is little surplus. In fact, the

world's grain surplus recently hit its lowest point in 40

years. The recent development of using farm crops

(corn, soybeans) to produce energy (methyl alcohol, biodiesel)

is bidding the price of food out of the range of

poor people. Since the energy crops are international

commodities this has international as well as national repercussions.

Consider that the Montana WIC (Women and Infants)

program has just decided that WIC food coupons cannot

be used to buy organic food. Mothers are required to buy

the cheapest, non-organic brand available. WIC's explanation

is that they have to stretch limited funds and organic

food is too expensive. Community hunger activists

fought for years to get WIC to allow organic food. How

far is our society going to get in solving poverty if we feed

people poor-quality, de-vitalized food? Unfortunately poorquality,

de-vitalized food is consumed by almost everyone,

rich and poor alike. There are growing numbers of health

food enthusiasts but cost and availability combined with relentless,

agribusiness advertizing means most people continue

to eat low-quality food. The vast majority of food

consumed in the USA is highly processed, grown by industrial

agriculture in de-mineralized soil and much of it carries

a burden of pesticides, herbicides, additives and various

other accumulative poisons. There is no doubt that the food

supply is one of the main causes of our country's high rates

of cancer, obesity and ill health.

Most people in the US are incredibly dependent on the system

for their food supply. Never before have people been so

alienated from their food's production. Current food production,

processing and distribution is dependent on massive

fossil fuel inputs. The food system is largely under the control

of profit-minded, giant agribusiness corporations and

dependent on a complex web of communications infrastructure.

We have very little control of our food supply and

most people only have several weeks of food on hand. This

lack of local food production is dangerous for the populace.

Food production itself is becoming increasingly disrupted

by climate changes, floods, droughts, etc. Centralized food

systems also give authoritarian governments leverage in

controlling their populations. No wonder more people are

getting concerned about local food security - and well they

should. Our current food system is a recipe for disaster. In

the face of all this, people are beginning to create solutions.

Growing food locally is obviously a patriotic thing to do as

well as for the personal benefits. This article lists some of

the many ways communities are re-building local food systems

and also hints at what permaculture has to offer.

Peak Food.

In October, 2006 I wrote an article on Peak Food and it is

posted in a pdf format on my website. It contains 20 reasons

why global food production has probably already

peaked under current agricultural policies. It believe it may

have peaked in 2004. If peak food is true and we are on the

downward slope that means more people will be joining the

food at-risk category. www.friendsofthetrees.net/


Fortunately there are solutions to our food problems.

Permaculture offers the principles, methodology, strategies,

techniques and knowledge of plant species which can help

implement sustainable systems using local resources whereby

poor people can feed themselves a diet far superior to

what is offered them today. This article focuses on how permaculture

can help feed the low-income amd marginalized

parts of the population, but what is proposed here will help

all of society. It is in the interests of all sectors of society to

create socially-just, sustainable, local systems of food.

Many grass-roots movements are arising to meet the interwoven

set of food crises. Food banks, community hunger

organizations, emergency food systems and related movements

such as the urban gardening movement and community

gardens. Remember the old saying that it is better to

teach a person to fish than to give them a fish. Same with

vegetables and gardening

Permaculture can be useful to all these movements because

of its expertise in growing food and site-specific

design. Permaculture can be practiced by anyone - poor,

middle-class or rich and will improve the quality of life

for all of them. Permaculture design can be applied at all

scales including: yard, neighborhood, city and county

levels; as well as small and large farms.


social movements:

[Please note that the popular social movements (loosely

defined) listed here often have little or nothing to do

with permaculture per se though individual permaculturists

may be involved.


1) Urban gardening movement.

2) Community gardens.

3) Youth gardens.

4) Conversion of vacant land to food production.

5) Food security and hunger organizations

6) Small farmer proliferation and organization.

7) CSA farms.

8) Farmland preservation.

9) Farmette rentals.

10) Farm internship programs.

11) Training programs in permaculture, organic, biointensive

and other sustainable gardening and farming


12) Farmers markets.

13) Eat local movement.

14) Gleaning programs.

15) Wildcrafting.

16) Food banks

17) Plant an Extra Row programs.

18) Cost-sharing programs for permaculture design.

19) Community education about healthy diets.

20) Return to traditional diets.

21) Food co-ops.

22) Food buying clubs.

23) Barter Fairs.

24) Farm to cafeteria programs.

25) School gardens.

26) Community food processing.

27) Food storage facilities in homes and neighborhoods.

28) Training in conflict resolution, mediation and other

skills that enable people to cooperate better.

Each of these will be briefly addressed in Part II of this


These programs and movements are coming out of the

general public. A movement involves large amounts of

people, evolves simultaneously in many places, and is

usually decentralized. There are community organizers

and public support bases already growing in most of

these fields. These solutions are already in progress and

there are many models to learn from, internationally as

well as nationally.

All of these movements are not linked up consciously

yet, but the connections are growing. My feeling is that

these movements will strengthen and coalesce and be

able to create a better world. The obstacles are huge and

include the military/industrial/financial complex, their government

lackeys, their control of mass media, drugs (pharmaceutical

and illegal), and societal ignorance, apathy, selfishness,

etc. However, I am optimistic because I feel there

is a new force afoot in humanity. It is a force that is opening

more and more hearts to make decisions based on love

and intuition. One could say that the divine feminine principle

is expanding people's hearts. If enough people open

their hearts then wars, dictators and totalitarian governments

will become impossible.

There is little doubt that hard times lie ahead. There is little

doubt that the system will try to repress and stop popular

movements and trends. Yet, the forces of common sense,

self-preservation and a sense of justice are strong and growing.

Society has seen a lot of inoculation of sustainable ideas

in the past 40 years. There are millions of people in the

US and around the world who are devoting their lives to

creating alternatives in every facet of life; health, food, education,

housing, energy, social systems, spirituality and so

forth. The world wide internet is increasingly linking us up

and making our positive solutions more known.

Three sources that indicate the size and breadth

of the world's popular movements are:

Resource - Organization

World Social Forum


The World Social Forum is the most developed manifestation

thus far of the global, social justice movement. The

World Social Forum was founded in Porto Allegro, Brazil

in 2001 and has become the world's largest international

gathering of people's movements and NGOs. The 2007

WSF in Nairobi involved 75,000 people. It is the awakening

of a new, decentralized society that could replace current,

centralized, power structures. The World Social Forum

is an open meeting place for reflective thinking,

formulation of proposals, and interlinking for effective action,

by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed

to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by

capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to

building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships

among Humankind and between it and the Earth.

Resource - Book:

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement In the World

Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming. Paul

Hawkens. 2007. Viking Press New York. 352 pages. A

leading environmentalist and social activist's examination

of the worldwide movement for social and environmental


Resource - Website:



WiserEarth serves the people who are transforming the

world. It is a community directory and networking forum

that maps and connects non-governmental organizations

and individuals addressing the central issues of our day: climate

change, poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger,

social justice, conservation, human rights and more.

Their website lists 107,934 Organizations.



Popular Movements

for Food Sovereignty

Here are introductions to a few popular movements

(there are many more) which contibute to local food production

systems that are socially just and ecologically


“What is Food Sovereignty? Food Sovereignty is the

RIGHT of peoples, communities, and countries to define

their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies

which are ecologically, socially, economically and

culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It

includes the true right to food and to produce food,

which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious

and culturally appropriate food and to foodproducing

resources and the ability to sustain themselves

and their societies.” Food First.



The proportion of Americans who grow vegetable gardens

is smaller then it used to be, but is still significant.

35% of US households (40 million households) have

some sort of garden. Food gardening, fruit tree planting

and edible landscaping should be encouraged and greatly

expanded. Urban gardening movements are huge at the

international level in both developed and developing

countries and they provide us with many examples, models

and lessons.

One of the more recent, and most famous, urban gardening

booms was in Havanna, Cuba after the Soviet

Union fell in 1990, and the US embargo intensified. A

lot of people were hungry. A large-scale gardening

movement was launched and was very successful. What

a lot of people don't know is that permaculture played a

significant role. This was the result of a permaculture

group, PGAN (Permaculture Global Assistance Network)

based in Melbourne, Australia sending teams of

instructors to Cuba in the beginning period of the gardening

movement. PGAN established permaculture gardens,

trained people and there was a significant technology

transfer which was then implemented on a large

scale. Today, Havanna produces up to 50% of its food

requirements from within the city limits, all of it is organic

and produced by people in their homes, gardens

and in municipal spaces. Read more about how and why

the Cubans made this happen at The Power of Community

website. They also have a popular film with that title.


Another large-scale example is the former Soviet Union

when the government, economy and agriculture all

but collapsed. The already large extent of private gardens

expanded and produced over half of total food supplies

and is what kept many people from starving to


Permaculture has had an affect here in the Northwest

but is very limited compared with the possibilities. Most

people have never heard the term permaculture, although

many organic gardeners have some understanding of the

term. The common garden practice of sheet mulching largely

came from the permaculture movement.

We should also mention that suburban gardening also has

great potential. Permaculture founder, Bill Mollison, has

stated that the suburbs are the next agricultural frontier in

the US because people, fuel, land, water and inputs are already

concentrated there. US suburbs have similar population

density to high-intensive subsistence farming areas in

other parts of the world.

Once you start looking for resources on urban gardening an

ever-growing plethora emerges. Below are listed a few.

They will in turn lead you to hundreds more.

Northwest Resource:

City Farmer


2043 Trafalgar Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada

(604) 685-5832

City Farmer has been focusing on urban agriculture for almost

30 years and their web site is a main portal into the diverse

world of growing food in a city.

Northwest Example:

Your Backyard Farmer. Portland, Oregon.


Donna Smith and her partner, Robyn Streeter started a business

in Portland, Oregon to plant and maintain gardens in

customer's yards. In their first year they took on 25 gardens

and did all the work themselves. 2007 was their second year

and their goal of 50 farms was easily achieved. Initially,

they set up an agreement between the member and themselves

as to what size plot will be planted and what food

will be grown. Members choose from a list of vegetables

and herbs they want on their mini-farm. Donna and Robyn

then set up a time to prepare the farm space as per the

agreement and visit on a weekly basis to plant, weed, and

harvest. Farm size is determined by the amount of people

they are growing for. Some are for single families and others

are for groups of neighbors coming together.

National Resource:

Journey to Forever.


Great list of books and resources for urban gardening and

alternatives in general.

Global Resource:

Urban Agriculture Worldwide


Urban agriculture is any form of food and flora production

that occurs anywhere in cities, towns and villages including

that which occurs on their perimeter. A recent study by the

South Australian Department of Primary Industries suggests

that this agriculture represents up to 25% of Australia's

total food production.

Global Resource:

City Farmer, Worldwide organization


"Urban Agriculture Notes" is the world's most comprehensive

news service on city farming from old books to the latest

films about inner city food gardens, photo collections,

reports and theses, just about anything you can imagine

related to growing food in the city.

Global Resource:

Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food

Security (RUAF)


One of the larger international networks. Their Urban

Agriculture Magazine can be read on the internet.



There are an estimated 18,000 Community Gardens

throughout the United States and Canada. Seattle's Ppatch

program administered by the Department of

Neighborhoods is one of the countries most renowned

community garden programs. Imagine it 10 times

bigger! Almost every neighborhood can benefit from

community gardens, especially low-income neighborhoods.

Community gardens typically lease small plots of

land to individual people. There might be from as few as

ten garden plots at one site up to several hundred.

Northwest Example:

Seattle P-Patch Program


Seattle Department of Neighborhoods' P-Patch Program

provides organic community garden space for residents

of 70 Seattle neighborhoods. These programs serve all

citizens of Seattle with an emphasis on low-income and

immigrant populations and youth. Our community gardens

offer 2500 plots and serve more than 6000 urban

gardeners on 23 acres of land.

Northwest example:

St. Johns Woods Garden Project



Village Gardens includes the 7,000 square foot St. Johns

Woods Garden Project which enables 30 families living

200% below federal poverty guidelines to grow their

own food by providing seeds, tools, fertile land, water,

and technical support. Housing Authority of Portland

property managers at St. Johns Woods credit the project

with reducing vandalism and increasing collaborative

problem solving among residents.

National Resource:

American Community Gardening Association

1777 East Broad Street. Columbus OH 43203

1-877-ASK-ACGA, 1-877-275-2242


This organization exists to serve community gardens and

broaden community greening projects in general.



Community gardens specifically for at-risk youth and

street people. Training for eventual employment is an

important facet of some programs.

Northwest Example:

Seattle Youth Garden Works

5700 Sixth Avenue South, Suite 207

Seattle, WA 98108

Phone: 206-632-0352


Seattle Youth Garden Works empowers homeless and under-

served youth through garden-based education and employment.

We are a market gardening program for youth

ages 14-22 in the University District and South Park neighborhoods.

Our goals are to connect youth to housing, health

care, education, jobs and community.

Northwest Example:

Food Works



A youth employment program, Food Works engages 14-21

year olds in all aspects of planning and running an entrepreneurial

farm business located on an acre of METRO land

on Sauvie Island, a 70-member community give-away garden

and the Big Apple Garden Club. Working side by side

with Village Gardens' staff, community residents, local

farmers, business owners and non-profit leaders, Food

Works' Crew Members learn business, leadership, organic

agriculture and other work skills. Crew Members also receive

school credit for their work and are supported to transition

into other employment opportunities and post secondary


Northwest Example:

Youth Farm



Established in 1998 in Springfield, Oregon, the Youth Farm

is an innovative program combining hunger relief with

youth services and education. The three-acre farm provides

paying work, job training and education to at-risk teenagers

throughout the spring and summer, and serves as an educational

work site for local alternative schools and programs

serving at-risk youth throughout the year.




Every locality has vacant lots, unused right-of ways, derelict

land, brownfields, gullies, hillsides, edges, alleyways,

parking strips, highway verges, and so forth. The amounts

and proportions of these areas will vary in different localities.

The US tends to have large amounts of un-used lands

compared to densely populated countries like China and Japan

where almost all tiny bits of land are under cultivation

or management. Some of these places are better suited to

native plant restoration or public space, but many can be

turned into food production areas by the application of permaculture.

Some of the more polluted areas need detoxification

treatments first or may be confined to producing

resources that are not ingested. There are many programs

already doing these sorts of conversions, but they are

a drop in the bucket of what is possible. Finding land for

poor people to garden is not an easy task given current, private

property attitudes but there is gradual progress. Various

ways of implementing land reform are needed. If people

are desperate enough various kinds of squatting arise.

Northwest Example:

Seattle Streetside Garden Contest

www.seattle.gov/trasnportation/planting strip.htm

The city of Seattle in 2008 is expanding it's policy of encouraging

gardening on the city's planting strips. Seattle

Transportation and P-Patch Program are involved. Seattle

Transportion runs an annual Streetside Garden Contest

for the best gardens in parking strips and garden




There are a wide diversity of organizations addressing

hunger and food security issues. Here are some of the

larger networks.

Northwest Example:

Portland/Multnomah Food Policy Council


The Food Policy Council is a citizen-based advisory

council to the City of Portland and Multnomah County.

The Council brings citizens and professionals together

from the region to address issues regarding food access,

land use planning issues, local food purchasing plans and

many other policy initiatives in the current regional food

system. A very active and well-respected regional example.

Northwest Example:

Growing Gardens


Growing Gardens is a Portland-based organization that

provides assistance to low-income people who want to

grow their own food. It began in the mid-1980s. Since

1996, they've installed 485 home gardens in Portland. 40

to 50 a year with the options of traditional gardens,

raised garden beds and container gardens. They support

low income households for three years with seeds,

plants, classes, mentors and more. Their Youth Grow after

school garden clubs grows the next generation of

veggie eaters and growers.

North American Resource:

Community Food Security Coalition

PO Box 209, Venice, CA 90294

(310) 822-5410


The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) is a

North American organization of social and economic

justice, environmental, nutrition, sustainable agriculture,

community development, labor, anti-poverty, antihunger,

and other groups. The Coalition has 325 organizational

members in 41 states, 4 Canadian provinces and

the District of Columbia.

National Resource:

National Hunger Clearinghouse


Facilitating the exchange of information, resources, and

ideas among organizations fighting hunger and poverty.

The NHC believes solutions to hunger and poverty can

be found at the grassroots level and that communities

have the ability to provide for themselves if equipped

with the proper resources.

Global Example:

Global Food Sovereignty Forum

Nyéléni, Mali, February, 2007


The beginning of their declaration starts: “We, more than

500 representatives from more than 80 countries, of organizations

of peasants/family farmers, artisanal fisherfolk, indigenous

peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants,

pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers

and environmental and urban movements have gathered together

in the village of Nyéléni in Sélingué, Mali to

strengthen a global movement for food sovereignty.”

Venezuela example:

A Vision of Food Sovereignty for Venezuela.

An article on food security initiatives in Venezuela





Ever since the introduction of the tractor the number of US

farmers has steadily declined. Until recently that is. The last

several decaddes has seen growth in the numbers of small

farmers. At the same time there has been a continued erosion

in the number of medium-size farmers; while largesize

farms have continued to consolidate, grow in size and

increase their domination of the land base. There has been a

huge growth in organic, biodynamic and other ecological

systems of farming over the past 40 years. This constituency

has become increasingly organized. We need an even

larger increase in the numbers of small farmers. More startup

help for new farmers. Tax breaks for small farms and

not for big farms. More help with direct marketing. How

many ways can society come up with to support and increase

the numbers of small farmers? A new surge of young

farmers is currently underway.

Northwest Resource:

Washington Tilth Producers


Washington Tilth is the main network of organic farmers in

the state. They publish an annual directory/resource guide.

Northwest Resource:

Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network


A grassroots, statewide advocacy organization based in Bellingham.

Their website includes a large Links section.

Northwest Resource:

Oregon Tilth


Oregon Tilth began the very first organic certification program

in the US and is still an international leader in certification

systems. Great monthly newsletter including a Spanish

language section.

Northwest Resource:



The US is seeing the development of programs which link

up retiring farmers with new farmers who can't afford to

buy land and equipment through conventional channels.

FarmLink is a Washington State program run by Cascadia

Harvest Coalition.


7) CSA FARMS. Community Supported Agriculture.

CSA farms is a new direct marketing tool for farmers

which has seen rapid growth in the last decade. There are

many types of CSA farms. A CSA is a way for the food

buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to

receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial

commitment to a farm, people become "members"

(or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Most

CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season upfront,

but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly

payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a

small number of hours on the farm during the growing

season. A CSA season typically runs from late spring

through early fall. The number of CSAs in the United

States was estimated at 50 in 1990. North America now

has at least 1,300 CSA farms, with estimates ranging as

high as 3,000. CSA farms (called Teikei) were first

started in Japan in 1965 by mothers concerned about the

rise of imported food and the loss of arable land. Today,

millions of Japanese consumers participate in Teikei systems

that account for a major share of fresh produce consumption

in Japan.

Northwest Example:

Portland Area CSA Coalition (PACSAC). A CSA

farmer support network. www.pacsac.org/

National Resource:


Good links for CSA info.



The growth of suburbs and development have resulted in

significant losses of farmland near urban areas and increasingly

even in remoter agricultural areas. Farmland

preservation is one of the prerequisites for local food security.

Farmland trusts, conservation easements and other

private and public policies are preserving some farmland

from development but annual loss is still high. Most

regions have a group working for farmland preservation.

They can always use more support.

Northwest Example:

The Farmbank Project


186 Tingle Road, Winlock, WA 98596

360-785-4927. winlockmeadowsfarm1 at yahoo.com

Farmland preservation in Southwest Washington.

National Resource:

Farmland Information Center


The FIC is a clearinghouse for information about farmland

protection and stewardship. It is a partnership between

the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

and American Farmland Trust.



Preservation without production doesn't feed many people.

Some of this trust farmland can be leased out to

landless individuals to do intensive production for market.

This is similar to community gardens where people

rent a small plot to garden for personal consumption, just

at a larger scale. I would propose quarter-acre, half-acre,

one-acre, and two-acre farmettes. Small by industrial agriculture

standards but plenty big for high-intensity production.

The world has plenty of current and past examples of

highly productive farming on small acreages. Have you

ever visited a Hmong or other Laotian market garden in

Seattle? Industrial agriculture cannot compete with laborintensive

farming when it comes to productivity as well as

sustainability. For instance, a 100-acre dairy farm could be

coverted to 100 farmette rentals of 1 acre each. If a particular

farmette site was paired with a particular neighborhood

then suitable applicants can be selected from that neighborhood

to rent the farmland at a reasonable rate with the provisio

that the production is sold back in their neighborhood.

In Seattle, it could be neighborhoods like Capital Hill,

Rainier Valley, Central District, Beacon Hill, etc. Create a

bus system to get the new farmers and community volunteers

from neighborhood to farmettes. Fresh food grown by

community members goes directly back to their neighborhoods

with marketing support from grass-roots organizations.

Some services have to be supplied by the overall farmette

enterprise. For instance, a co-op tractor can do soil

tillage at the beginning and end of the season for all the farmettes.

Irrigation water can be supplied to the site as needed.

An on-farm extension agent skilled in permaculture and

high-intensity farming can assist renters in making informed

decisions. A tool library and a book library on site

would be helpful. Income to meet these costs would come

from farmette rental fees as well as grants/donations from

neighborhood or government sources.

Northwest Example:

Cloud View Ecofarm

A new project located in the Columbia Basin near Ephrata,

Washington. The property includes 120 irrigated acres under

cultivation. They offer leases on small plots of a halfacre

to two acres for people to farm. Leases are open to

Ecofarm members as well as people in the area. Cloud

View Ecofarm is west of Moses Lake within 20 minutes of

I-90. The land comes all tilled up, fertilized with composted

manure, and irrigation. The farm is using permaculture in

their planning. Contact Jim Baird. jimmbaird at aol.com



Many people get their start in farming by interning. Most

participating farms are small and use organic or sustainable

methods. There are many types of arrangements but generally

includes room and board in exchange for labor. The

first program of the sort was started in England in the early

1970s. It was called WWOOF which initially stood for

Working Weekends on Organic Farms. Now it usually

stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. There are

wwoof programs in dozens of countries now. Australia and

New Zealand are both famous for their large, successful


Northwest Resource:

Tilth Producers' Apprenticeship Placement Service


This page lists organic farms in Washington State that host

apprentices or interns or have openings for farm workers.

National Resource:


Willing Workers On Organic Farms and World Wide Opportunities

on Organic Farms.

A website-based wwoof program, mainly USA but some

international as well. Over 1,000 listings. 483 of their

host farms include permaculture as a key word.

National Resource:


PO Box 432, Occidental, CA 95465

831-425-FARM (3276) (voicemail)

info at wwoofusa.org


World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Many of

the arrangements are for short-term stays. They publish a

hard copy and online directory that lists hundreds of organic

farms and gardens across the country in which

each host describes their farm, location, crops, and general


North American Resource:



Over 600 farm hosts, mostly in Canada but some in the

USA. Their links page lists wwoof programs from

around the world.





There are numerous individuals and organizations offering

classes and training throughout the country. The

Northwest is especially well-represented in this aspect.

Seattle Tilth is a good regional model. The Master Gardener

programs are probably the largest gardening training

program. Permaculture design courses offer a way to

get a firm grounding in permaculture.

Northwest Resource:

Seattle Tilth


[See also the resources in section 6) Small farmers organizations,

and the permaculture resources at the end of

the article.]



Farmers markets are one of the best ways to get food

from the growers to the consumers. We all know about

the huge growth in farmers markets over the past several

decades. According to the USDA, the number of farmers

markets in the US grew from 1,755 in 1994 to 4,385 in

2006 with a total sales volume of $1 billion in 2005. Imagine

it growing ten times larger! That would really

make a difference.

Northwest Resource:

Washington State Farmers Markets Association


National Resource:

Nationwide list of farmers markets.




Many parts of the US now have buy local campaigns and

programs. Most help link up farmers and consumers and

publish farm guides. We now have such things as the 100-

mile diet, locavores and slow food movement.

Northwest Example:

Puget Sound Fresh


Northwest example:

Buy Fresh, Buy Local Idaho Inland Northwest


Northwest Example:

Edible Portland


A quarterly magazine celebrating the abundance of local

foods season by season. Winter 2008 is Issue Number 9. 58

pages. This magazine shows that the local food movement

in Portland, Oregon is already big and is really taking off.

Interesting articles and lots of advertising. What is amazing

to me is that it is just one of a network of 40 different EdibleCity

magazines around the USA including Seattle and

Vancouver, BC.

Northwest Example:

Gorge Grown Food Network


This area includes the Washington and Oregon sides of the

Columbia River where it cuts through the Cascade mountains

east of Portland. Gorge Grown Food Network is a vibrant

citizen group that works towards regional food selfsufficiency

by connecting local farmers, food producers

and consumers.

National Resource:

Hundred mile diet


A local eating experiment you can do yourself. For one

month (or one year) you only eat food that is produced

within 100 miles of where you live.

National Resource:



www.locavores.com/how/links.php Their great links page.

Locavores was first started in San Francisco with a goal of

eating food from within 100 miles. The idea is rapidly

spreading with various degrees of strictness on the idea of

local. From 100 miles down to one mile or less. Speaking

of strict locavores I personally know a Seattle man who

went for a whole year only eating food from his yard. There

was a large garden, fruit trees and a big blackberry tangle.

He ate insects and trapped rodents. He was quite healthy at

the end of the year. What was amazing to me is that he

lived in an intentional community house and all the other

residents helped themselves to the garden and fruit as well!

National Resource:


Serving over 40 “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” organizations in

the US.

National Resource:

Slow Food - USA


Slow Food USA envisions a future food system that is

based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental

sustainability, and social justice - in essence, a

food system that is good, clean and fair. We seek to catalyze

a broad cultural shift away from the destructive effects

of an industrial food system and fast life; toward

the regenerative cultural, social and economic benefits of

a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, the

pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious

rhythm of life.

International Resource:

Slow Food - International




A variety of gleaning programs have popped up around

the US in recent years. Usually it involves urban volunteers

gleaning farm fields after the farmer has stopped

picking for market. The produce is usually donated to

food banks. A new study from the University of Arizona

in Tucson indicates that a shocking forty to fifty per cent

of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten! There are

large amounts of food waste and fruit which falls on the

ground even in city limits. Urban gleaning is done by

children and others on an informal basis. I know of people

who have set up urban gleaning routes where they

harvest fruit trees in people's yards (with permission).

Formal programs would obtain greater utilization of the

current resource.

Northwest Example:

Portland Fruit Tree Project



The Portland Fruit Tree Project organizes people in the

Portland community to gather fruit before it falls, and

make it available to those who need it most. We register

fruit trees around the city, coordinate harvesting parties,

and offer workshops in pruning & fruit preservation.

Northwest Example:

The Small Potatoes Gleaning Project


Recovering Local Surplus Produce for Hungry People in

Whatcom County. Bellingham is the largest city in

Whatcom County in northwest Washington. 200,000

pounds of food gleaned in their first 5 years.

Northwest Resource:

Oregon gleaning network



Oregon has one of the most developed gleaning programs

in the US. A list of 28 food gleaning groups from

around the state and contact information.



Wildcrafting is the collecting of wild foods. The two

food items which are most often wildcrafted are wild

berries and mushrooms.Almost everyone in the maritime

Northwest wildcrafts at least a few blackberries every year.

A good half of our common weeds are edible. Many are delicious

and as a rule they are much more nutrient dense then

store-bought food. Abandoned fruit trees are common in

many places. There are many books available on edible

wild plants.

Northwest Resource:

The Flavors of Home: A Guide to Wild Edible Plants of

the San Francisco Bay Area. Margit Roos-Collins. 1990.

Heyday Books, Berkeley. 221 pages. Lots of native and

non-native plants are covered. Most of them are found

north all the way into British Columbia.

Northwest Resource:

Wild Food Adventures


4125 N Colonial Ave, Portland, OR 97217-3338

(503) 775-3828. mail at wildfoodadventures.com

John Kallas is one of the most active teachers about wild

foods in the Northwest. Informative website.

National Resource:


A great edible wild foods website with links to many people

and organizations



There a wide diversity of types of food banks, hot meal programs

and other food relief agencies. Food banks not only

distribute food to those in need, they often have some sort

of educational component. They provide friendship and

support networks for many people.

Northwest Example:

The Mother Earth Farm

Formed in May of 2000, the Mother Earth Farm is an eightacre

organic farm located in the lush Puyallup Valley. The

Farm produces approximately 125,000 pounds of fresh

fruit, vegetables, herbs and honey each growing season-all

of which is distributed directly to local food banks and hot

meal programs. Produce from the Farm is in the hands of

food bank clients within eight hours of being harvested. It is

a working farm that relies primarily on volunteers from a

cross-section of the community to operate. The Mother

Earth Farm incorporates an educational component for area

youth and adults. Six local school districts and three universities

incorporate Farm experiences into their curricula.

Oregon Resource:


919 Food relief agencies are part of this network.

Washington Resource:


Northwest Harvest collects and distributes food to approximately

300 hunger programs in Washington State. Includes

food bank information, volunteer opportunities, etc.



A nationwide grassroots effort encouraging gardeners to

plant an extra row of produce to donate to local food banks.

Northwest Resource:

Oregon's "Grow an Extra Row" program



Oregon's "Grow an Extra Row" program is an offshoot

of the national "Plant a Row" program begun by the Garden

Writers of America. It started with the efforts of

Master Gardeners in Oregon's Jackson and Josephine

Counties and has grown statewide since 1998. 4-H clubs

have grown special gardens to supplement food boxes

around the state. For information about the nearest location

of a food distribution facility, call the local Master

Gardener program at your local county office of the

OSU Extension Service, or the Oregon Food Bank in

Portland, 503-282-0555, or toll free at 1-800-777-7427.

National Resource:

Plant A Row for the Hungry Program


A source for planting information and other resources.



Cities and local governments should create cost-share

programs to finance permaculture designs for homeowners

and land-owners. This would be a cost-effective

program such as exists for insulating houses and installing

double-pane windows and energy conserving lights.

There is also some smilarities to cost-share, forest management

plans. Permaculture design would help families

make their land more productive and reduce their draw

on cities' services. Installation of systems would also

provide meaningful employment opportunities. This is a

program idea that hasn't been put into practice yet that I

am aware of. Anyone interested in pursuing this idea is

invited to contact Michael Pilarski.




Whole foods, grown in healthy, mineral-rich soil lead to

good health. Processed foods and foods with low nutrition

levels lead to ill-health. Information on healthy diets

is available but there is lots of competing information on

what constitutes a good diet. There are different body

types and blood types to consider. There is no one perfect

diet, but anyone who makes a serious study of diet

and nutrition shudders at what most people are eating.

Raw foods and fermented foods are positive dietary

trends which should be promoted. The trick is making a

healthy diet affordable to people on the low end of the

income spectrum. Home food production, bulk buying

and direct farmer-to-consumer sales are all parts of what

can make a healthy diet affordable to the poor.

National Resource:

The Weston A. Price Foundation


The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense

foods to the human diet through education, research and

activism. It supports a number of movements that contribute

to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction,

organic and biodynamic farming, pasturefeeding

of livestock, community-supported farms, honest

and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing




In the last ten years there have been a growing number of

programs and initiatives by Native American, Hawaiian and

other ethnic communities to return to traditional foods. This

is done in response to a perception that the modern diet is

bad for the health of the people and that a return to more

traditional foods and diet will improve their health. More

and more people are seeking historic roots in healthier cuisines.

Northwest Resource:

Renewing Salmon Nation's Food Traditions.

Gary Paul Nabhan. 2006. RAFT. 66 pages. $5.95

This book introduces a RAFT list of food species and heirloom

varieties with traditions at risk and in need of recovery

in the Greater Pacific Northwest. This book is the result

of a meeting of food activists, chefs, ethnobotanists, farmers,

fisherfolk, food historians, orchardists, conservation activitists

and nutrition educators. It covers domesticated

crops, sea foods and wild foods. If you want to eat local,

this is a great book because it details food that is unique to

salmon nations, including heirloom varieties that orginated

here. Value our local foods and keep them alive. As Nabhan

says, "Eat it, to save it".

National Resource:

RAFT, Renewing America's Food Traditions

Center for Sustainable Environments

Northern Arizona University,

PO Box 5765, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5765

928-523-6726. Gary Nabhan,




The food coop movement grew and thrived during the

1970s and 80s. Some went out of business in the 1990s, but

many are still alive and thriving and new ones are starting.

Most of them harbor a strong community network. Most of

them give preference to buying from local farmers. We

need more coops and less supermarkets.

National Resource:

Coop Directory Service


1254 Etna Street, St. Paul, MN 55106

651-774-9189. thegang at coopdirectory.org



Food buying clubs are one of the best ways for consumers

to lower food prices by combining ordering power and buying

in bulk. Buying clubs usually buy from the same distribution

networks that supply natural food stores. Buying

clubs could also make bulk buys from farmers. Sort of like

a neighborhood CSA, but instead of the farmer dropping off

a box (or a bag) for each individual person/family, the

farmer can deliver a large quantity at one dropoff spot

which the buying club splits up into the personal orders.

This is a very attractive proposition for small farmers. This

can offer a wholesale price to the consumer and still be a

good return to the farmer. For instance, this past fall I had

500 pounds of winter squash I wanted to sell and was driving

to Seattle, I wished I could call a Seattle buying club

switchboard and find a buying club to purchase the squash.

By shopping wisely and buying in bulk it is possible

to feed yourself a healthy diet for much less money then

shopping in retail stores. Personally I buy many of my

basic foods in bulk. For instance I buy oatmeal in 50-

pound sacks. When I had a family I purchased honey by

the 5-gallon bucket. Bulk buying enables low-cost


Northwest Resource:

Azure Standard

79709 Dufur Valley Road, Dufur, OR 97021



Azure Standard is a wholesale food company supplying

buying clubs around the Northwest. They have a $400

minimum order per dropoff if within 3 miles of their regular

delivery route.

National Resource:

Starting a Buying Club



Information on how to start a buying club.



Barter fairs are like a giant farmers market, craft fair and

flea market all rolled into one. They generally serve a ruraal

areas. They are direct marketing, weekend campout

events. they are fun, community-building events which

bring many people together year after year. There are

currently about ten barter fairs, all in the rural Northwest:

north-central and northeast Washington, Montana

and southwest Oregon.

Northwest Example:

Okanogan Family Faire


Near Tonasket in north-central Washington. The oldest

(started in 1974) and largest barter fair. Attendance in recent

years has been as high as 10,000 people. Their website

is currently under reconstruction as of late 2007.

Northwest Resource:

Barter Faire Online Community


This site has dates and information on most of the barter


Northwest Example:

Hope Mountain Barter Faire


Southwest Oregon location.



Local farms supplying schools, senior centers, and other

public facilities. This concept is spreading in public

schools. The city of Rome, Italy, recently overhauled the

school meal service for its 140,000 students. Ingredients

for all school meals are now seasonal, organic, regionally

and/or fair trade-produced, and cooked from scratch in

school kitchens. Wow!

National Resource:

Community Food Security Coalition.


CFSC organizes the National Farm to Cafeteria Program.

National Resource:


Many farm-to-cafeteria resources can be found here.


25) School gardens.

Almost every school should have a garden where the students

learn about gardening and growing food. There are

tens of thousands of school gardens around the world, but

not anywhere enough of them. The US had hardly any

school gardens until recently, but now it is a rapidly growing

movement. Permaculturists have started school gardens

in many countries. In some cases the school gardens provide

an important part of the students' diet.

Northwest Example:

Permaculture Classroom Project, Hood River, Oregon


A Northwest example of a permaculture school garden is

that of Michael Becker who teaches sixth grade in Hood

River, Oregon. He directs the Permaculture Classroom Project,

a hands-on approach to teaching math and science using

Permaculture and sustainability science concepts. With

his students, they have developed extensive habitat gardens

and food systems on the schoolyard.

National Resource:




There are many methods of home-scale, food processing,

but there is also a need to establish neighborhood, foodprocessing

facilities. Community commercial kitchens have

been set up in dozens of US cities in the last decade, sometimes

as part of "business incubator" programs.

A historic example is the now-extinct "custom canneries".

In 1973 and 1974, I worked at one of the last custom

canneries left in Washington state, the Toppenish Custom

Cannery in the Yakima valley. Each day during the growing

season, the cannery was filled with a bedlam of hundreds

of people peeling, slicing, dicing and pureeing all

kinds of fruits and vegetables they had grown, gathered or

bought locally. They filled cans with their own products

and recipes. Our small cannery crew heated the cans (and

contents), ran them through the lidding machine and then

pressure cooked the cans for specified times depending on

the contents. Some things like salmon and meats were

cooked longer. The customers picked their cans up the next

day when the cans had cooled down.

The noise was deafening and the languages were many.

The customer base included Hispanics, Indians (half the

Yakima valley is on the Yakama Reservation), Filipinos,

Japanese, African-Americans, Southerners and all kinds of

whites. It was a real melting pot of a crowd and it was all

focused on food. Local food for local people. There used to

be about 50 custom canneries around the state in the mid-

1900s. There is not a one left. Perhaps it is time to start

some new ones. Perhaps they can use glass canning jars as

well as metal. Perhaps they can include drying facilities as


Northwest Example:

The Cannery Project

Emergency Food Network

3318 92nd Street South, Lakewood, WA 98499

Tel: 253-584-1040.

The Cannery Project was begun in 1996. The purpose of

this project is to can and re-pack fresh and frozen foods.

This product is then distributed to local food banks, increasing

the shelf life of otherwise perishable goods and

reducing the need to purchase canned food. This project

relies heavily upon volunteers from local service clubs,

universities and businesses. By the end of 2005 this project

surpassed production of one million cans since its


National Resource:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation.


A source for current research-based recommendations

for most methods of home food preservation.




Every year I personally store hundreds of pounds of potatoes,

carrots, squash, beets, onions, garlic, apples,

pears, parsnips, etc. The ideal storage for onions, garlic

and squash is warm and dry. The ideal storage for roots

and fruits is cold and humid. Root vegetables and fruits

should be stored separately. Some of my residences have

had root cellars and pantries which provided the range of

desired storage conditions, but some did not. Those were

the times I wished there was some sort of community

food storage facility nearby.

We need a program to retrofit homes with storage places

to enable people to buy food in bulk and store it properly.

Apartment buildings and other group housing can

create food storage areas which tenants can use. In some

cases neighborhood food storage facilities can be built

(or existing structures remodeled) to enable people to

store food in proper conditions. This could be akin to

public freezer lockers where people rent small freezer

spaces and have a key. This concept can be extended to

separate root cellar lockers.





There are numerous organizations and private consultants

doing this kind of work. There are an increasing

number of good books available.

Northwest Resource

Sustainable Communities Network


Alternative dispute resolution is a tool for resolving conflicts

within a community, and mediation is used in the

workplace and in institutions to help individuals find

common ground and peaceful solutions to problems.

This website provides links to many resources that community

organizations can employ.


This list of 28 social movements and programs all contribute

to increased food security and food sovereignty. Dozens

more could be listed. This is not an attempt to make a thorough

list. 77 examples and resources are listed here with

contact information. Thousands more could be listed.

End of Part II.


Aspects of Permaculture

and some practical techniques.

The word 'Permaculture' was originally coined in Australia

by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-

1970's. The word “permaculture” itself came from the

notion of establishing “permanent agriculture” or “permanent

culture. Over the last 30 years, permaculture has

grown to become a global grassroots movement involving

hundreds of thousands of people. Permaculture offers

a huge storehouse of solutions, strategies and practical

techniques. If permaculture was implemented on a

planetary-wide scale in cities, farms and homes the

world would become a garden of Eden.

Permaculture is a design science to establish sustainable

human settlements. Permaculture has a code of ethics,

a set of principles, a design methodology, and draws

on numerous strategies and techniques from around the

world and throughout history. Permaculture is the premier

design system for sustainable food production. In

addition to the plant landscape, permaculture also considers

transportation, energy, buildings, water supply,

community economics, and the social fabric of life. Every

type of habitat can be put to good use whether dry,

marshy, rocky, sandy, clay, riparian, seaside, urban, and

so forth. One of the goals in permaculture is to increase

the number of habitats on site to enable a wider range of

plants to thrive.

Permaculture teaches how to design productive and

beautiful yards, farms and properties at the individual

property scale. Permaculture principles and methodology

can be applied anywhere in the world. Each site is

unique and each client is unique, thus each permaculture

design will be different.

Intensive vegetable gardening techniques can quickly

produce large amounts of food in small spaces, but intensive

gardening is not for everybody or everywhere. Permaculture

emphacizes the creation of low-maintenance,

self-reproducing ecologies. The proportions of native

plants, non-native plants, long-lived perennials, fruit

trees, food plants, etc is determined by the client's goals

and nature's dictates.

Restoration of native habitats and native species is a

component of permaculture. We can assist nature to regenerate

healthy biospheres. This means soils get richer,

forests increase, trees get bigger, biodiversity increases,

the web of complexity of relationships increases, more

oxygen is produced and more carbon is stored. At the

same time, the productivity of the landscape to meet human

needs dramatically increases. Human landscapes

which have permaculture applied to them will look wilder,

be wilder, be more bio-diverse, be more productive,

be more beautiful and will run itself to a large extent. All

this for less work in the long run.

One of the key premises of permaculture design is to

minimize outside inputs. The inputs of one part of the

system are met by the outputs of other parts. More cycling

of nutrients, energy, water, etc. The site not only

uses less inputs but the outputs greatly increase including

food and other useful products, as well as fulfilling

environmental functions such as wind abatement and shade.

An additional goal is aesthetic beauty, color, fragrance and

outdoor living space. Permaculture emphacizes lowmaintenance,

perennial plants (less work); and, depending

on the client, varying amounts of intensive gardens. Individuals

and families achieve greater self-sufficiency and

collectively the region as a whole does.

A Few Strategies & Techniques

P-1) Composting & woody biomass.

P-2) Increase food plant diversity.

P-3) Rooftop gardens.

P-4) Utilization of walls and vertical spaces.

P-5) Sidewalk trellises.

P-6) Water harvesting, roof catchment systems.

P-7) Parking lot overstories.

P-8) Nitrogen-fixing plants.

P-9) Sheet-mulching.

P-10) Grow BioIntensive gardening.

P-11) Garbage pit gardens.

P-12) Bio-remediation.

P-13) Myco-remediation.

P-14) Integrating livestock.

P-15) Seed and plant propagation networks.

P-16) Native plant restoration.

P-17) Native plant restoration & wildcrafting.

P-18) Forest gardens.

This list of eighteen was made with urban gardeners in

mind. There are several hundred more which could be listed

such as beekeeping, double-dug beds, wind power, aquaculture,

mini-ponds, herb spirals, creating wildlife habit, container

gardening, winter gardening, agroforestry, grey water,

hedgerows, suntraps, etc, etc. These are just a few of

the strategies and techniques in permaculture's tool kit. Permaculture

is more then just the sum of the elements in the

system, it is also arranging them in proper relationship to

each other to maximize beneficial inter-relationships.



Permaculture calls for the full utilization of organic matter.

The percentage of organic matter generated in our cities

which ends up being productively used is small. This is

worse then throwing money away because money is losing

its value, but organic matter is becoming more valuable.

The recycling and composting of all organic matter should

be encouraged including grass clippings, prunings, leaves,

and kitchen waste. Seattle is a national leader in composting

but there is more to do, especially in regards to the

woody debris generated from storms, yard maintenance,

land clearing, etc. All wood is fertilizer to the ecosystem.

What is Biomass? Biomass is the sum total of all living

or once-living material. It includes all live plants from

grasses to trees plus dead plant material, snags, roots, duff,

humus, soil microorganisms and animals. Biomass is like

money in the bank. It pays back over time plus interest. Permaculture

and related disciplines have come up with lots of

productive ways to utilize woody biomass for gardening,

farming and ecological uses. Some involve chipping and

others do not, such as the hugelkultur systems developed in

Germany which create raised beds using large to small

woody debris. The recent discovery of Terra Preta soils in

the Amazon basin also show us a way to use charcoal as a

soil fertility input. The work of the Frenchman, Jean Pain,

shows us how to generate large amounts of hot water

(energy) by composting shredded, brushy material.

Northwest Example:

The Master Composter/Soil Builder Program


One of the leading programs in the US.



Jean Pain, energy from woody compost

An article from the Permaculture Activist which is a

great introduction to Jean Pain's work.


Terra Preta


Great rundown on Wikipedia of an Amazonian indigenous

technique to build fertile soils utilizing charred

plant material.



There are around 200,000 plant species in the world. The

number is going down rapidly. About 4,000 species are

native to the Maritime Northwest. About 1,500 species

have naturalized or gone weedy in our region. Northwest

gardeners have about 10,000 useful plant species to

choose from, of which at least 1,000 species are edible.

Increased food plant diversity means increased food

choices, a more diverse diet (produced locally) and

hedges our bets during climate changes. Permaculture

has lots of expertise in plant diversity, including perennial

food plants.

Global Resource:

Plants For A Future


Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual

plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal

or other uses. You can search their database of 7300

edible medicinal and useful plants.



Rooftops are a substantial part of urban landscapes and

are found wherever people live. Many of these rooftops

can be gardened either for the purposes of food production

or for the many other environmental and urban

greening benefits they provide. Vines especially lend

themselves to rooftop and wall gardening where soil

depth is adequate. Some rooves have a southern exposure.

They have good frost drainage. Dogs and cats can't

get at them (but birds and squierrels can). Weeds and

slugs are less of a problem. Much of the experience on

this topic is currently from cities in Europe and the twothirds

world. Germany is the most advanced country in

the world in regards to rooftop gardening but only a

small amount of their publishing is translated. St. Petersburg,

Russia is one of the world's largest centers of rooftop

food culture (necessity being the mother of invention

in this case).

There are three major types of rooftop gardens.

1) The plants (usually vines) are rooted in the ground

and grow up the walls and onto the roofs.

2) The rooting medium is part of a layered system laid

on top of the roof.

3) Plants are grown in containers on the roof.

In the latter cases, care has to be taken not to overload the

building's structural support nor to cause leaks in the roof.

The deeper the rooting medium the bigger the plants that

can be grown and the more surface area they can cover.


Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls. Nigel Dunnet

and Noel Kingsbury. 2004. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

254 pages. International overview and historical development.

Food production is only a minor component of the

rooftops surveyed but many techniques are applicable.


Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Attn: Steven Peck

406 King Street East

Toronto, Ontario, M5A 1M1, CANADA

416-971-4494. SPECK

speck at greenroofs.org www.greenroofs.org


The True Nature Foods 'Rooftop Victory Garden' for localized

agricultural production was begun as Phase I in

2006. This project received a 'City of Chicago Green Roof

Grants Program 2005: Residential and Small Commercial

Buildings' grant from the Department on the Environment

toward realization of the vegetated roof, and has become a

'poster project' of sorts for the grant program. Species planted

in fall 2006 include buckwheat, burdock, comfrey, Jerusalem

artichoke, and artichoke, which were selected for

their ability to provide food, fuel, fiber, encourage human

health, and help build healthy soil. Species planted in 2007

include herbs such as mints, rosemary, oregano, tomatoes,

potatoes, beans, and squash. The city of Chicago has set a

goal of being a national leader in city greening and rooftop



Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) is the first city in the

world to include both urban agriculture and green roofs in

an action plan to meet predicted global climate change challenges.

Further information:

Geoff Wilson, Green Roofs Australia Inc.

32 David Road,

Holland Park, 4121, Queensland, Australia.

www.greenroofs.wordpress.com will report on the vermiculture,

aquaponics and green roof research project being

conducted in Brisbane.



Walls of houses, garages, sheds, office buildings, and retaining

walls offer fruitful and fascinating spaces to grow

useful plants. This can include espaliering fruit trees along

walls, growing fastigiate (upright/narrow) trees & shrubs,

and by growing vines. Vines are generally grown up trellises

so that they don't negatively impact the building. The

longest vines such as wisteria, grapes and kiwifruit can

grow up to 90 feet long. Species exist for every exposure.

More light equals more food productivity. Permaculture

looks at every wall of every home carefully to assess it's potential

for improving the life of the inhabitants by providing

food, fragrance, beauty, oxygen, sound buffering, reduced

heating and cooling bills, etc.

On many urban properties the square footage of wall

surfaces is larger then square footage of soil surface

(lawns, etc). Wall area is typically 3 to 4 times the size

of roof area. Walls have an additional advatange over

rooftop gardens in that plants can usually be rooted in

the ground. Some walls do not have soil at their base and

containers can be used to grow the plants.



Build trellises over sidewalks and plant them to vines for

fruit, fragrance and color. Perennial fruit-bearing vines

for northern climates include grapes, hardy kiwifruit,

Chinese magnolia vine, Goji-berry, passionfruit, thornless

blackberries and thornless boysenberries. Annual

vines include pole beans, scarlet runner beans, peas, cantalope,

watermelons, squash, cucumbers and bitter melon.




Each piece of property, large or small, is a watershed.

Permaculture looks at how water can be kept on site and

infiltrated into the soil to grow food, water landscape

plants and recharge aquifers. This reduces urban and rural

runoff problems; and, when done on a broad scale, reduces

catastrophic floods. The Chehalis river flood of

December, 2007 is a current case in point for Washington

state where this would have helped.


Rainwater harvesting


Good introduction and links to further resources.


Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds

For Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use.


The best book on small-scale, water storage available

and it is written from a permaculture perspective. A doit-

yourself guide to designing, building, and maintaining

water tanks, cisterns and ponds, and managing groundwater

storage. It will help you with your independent

water system, fire protection, and disaster preparedness,

at low cost and using principles of ecological design. Includes

how to make ferrocement water tanks. Oasis Design

is also the source of the world's best information on

greywater systems.



When you look at satellite photos of cities the predominant

color is gray. A lot of that gray is parking area.

Shopping parking, street parking, industrial parking, and

individual parking lots. Not every parking area is appropriate

for trees, but careful selection of species and good

management plans could green up a lot of our parking

space. This becomes part of the urban forest, It's main

aim is amenity but permaculture chooses multi-purpose

trees to provide useful material including timber, food,

crafts, basketry material, medicine, etc. Widespread

parking lot reforestation would provide meaningful jobs

which have long-term payback and make neighborhoods

more pleasant places to live.


Parking lot trees info source.



Links to lots of information and websites about Parking Lot

Tree Installation.



Nitrogen is the most commonly applied fertilizer and usually

one of the most limiting factors to plant growth. There

are dozens of nitrogen-fixing plants for many kinds of situations.

These are planted in the system to help provide nitrogen

to the crop plants. Examples include clovers, alfalfa,

beans, peas, fava beans, buffaloberry, alders, and cascara.


Nitrogen fixing plants at Wikipedia


A short introduction to the topic. The site includes a large

list of nitrogen-fixing plants with a great deal of info on




Sheet mulching is a technique used to turn lawns into gardens.

It can also be used to establish gardens in rough,

weedy areas. There are many variations but the general idea

is to layer rich fertilizer materials on top of the lawn, followed

by multiple layers of cardboard or thick layers of

newspaper and a top layer of wood chips, ground bark or

suchlike. Desired plants are transplanted into the system

through all the layers.


Sheet Mulching:

Greater Plant and Soil Health for Less Work.


An article written for the tropics, but most of the information

is applicable to cold climates as well.


Sheet Mulching for Home Gardens


A good article on the topic.



This gardening method offers one of the highest-yielding

gardening systems available in the world. They research

how to grow a family's food supply on the smallest footprint

of land possible including growing soil-building,

green-manure crops. John Jeavons is the principal developer

of this technique. Jeavons claims that biointensive, vegan

agriculture at its extreme is capable of supplying total food

supply on 300 sq metres per person. This system was not

developed by permaculture but works in handily where intensive

garden production is desired.


“How To Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever

Thought Possible on Less Land Then You Can Imagine”.

John Jeavons. This book has sold more then 500,000

copies since its first edition in 1974. The 7th edition was

published in 2007 by Ten Speed Press, Berkeley. 268 pages.

Highly recommended!


Ecology Action. Grow Biointensive gardening.


Our mission is to train people worldwide to better feed

themselves while conserving resources. Since 1972 we

and our colleagues have been researching and developing

GROW BIOINTENSIVE®, a high-yielding, sustainable

agricultural system that emphasizes local food production

and is based on historically intensive gardening




Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture, invented this

technique while working in garbage-strewn, aboriginal

settlements in Australia. This created a way to clean up

the area plus produce food. Both of which helped people's

morale. Three-foot diameter holes (three to four

feet deep) are dug in suitable locations. Set aside the topsoil

and spread the subsoil in a ring around the hole, then

put the topsoil on top of the subsoil. All organic garbage

and debris in the area is picked up and packed in the

holes. Try to layer in fresh and dry stems and leaves if

available. Weeds are great. What you are doing in effect

is making a pit compost. Water as you go if the material

is dry or it is the dry part of the year. Put the yuckiest

stuff in the bottom and save some of the nicest stuff for

the top. Throw some of the topsoil on before you put on

the final cosmetic layer of mulch. Put in a pound of live

red wiggler worms. There are also various compost activator

cultures which can be added. The mound around

the garbage pit is planted to useful plants including food

plants. The pit is watered during the growing season.

The plants surrounding the pit take up the nutrients and

water that spreads from the pit. Done well, this is an efficient

way to water plants in dry climates. Avoid toxic

garbage in the pit, but non-food plants can be used if in

doubt. Over time the material will settle as it digests and

more organic matter can be added. Pit-gardens are a

long-term gardening feature and become increasingly

fertile. Rock walls and/or small trellises can be built on

the north (or windward) side to provide an even more favored




Bioremediation can be defined as any process that uses

microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to

return the environment altered by contaminants to its

original condition. Using plants and micro-organisms to

clean up pollution and toxins in soil and water. Basically

the more you stimulate life in the soil the faster they

break down pollutants. This includes human waste biological

treatment systems.



Using fungi to clean up pollution and toxins in soil and

water. The fungal mycelium grows through the soil and/

or medium and eventually produce mushrooms.


"Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can help

Save the World". 2005. Ten Speed Press.

www.fungiperfecti.com By Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti

in Olympia. The best book on the topic. Stamets incorporates

a permaculture perspective.



Chickens, ducks, rabbits and goats provide food while consuming

kitchen and garden waste. In permaculture animals

are utilized for their functions as well as their products.



This is currently one of weakest links to creating local food

systems. One of the world's worst scandals is that over the

last several decades a few large agribusiness companies

have gained control over most of the world's seed business.

In the process there has been a huge (and continuing) loss

of seed germplasm available. Many of the commercial varieties

are bred for quantity, shippability and cosmetic appearance

rather than hardiness or nutrition. GMO seeds and

"terminator" technology are scary new developments. The

need for locally-adapted, locally-grown vegetable seed

crops is obviously very important. There is a heritage variety

preservation movement represented by organizations

such as the Seed Savers Exchange and several dozen small,

independent seed companies.

Ideally there would be hundreds of people saving seed in

every city and region. Keeping old, useful varieties alive,

developing new varieties, and producing seed to meet local

needs. Locally-adapted varieties available everywhere

would mean the development of hundreds and thousands of

new seed companies and seed networks. Seed saving should

be covered in more detail in master gardener programs and

at the local garden club level.


Organic Seed Alliance

P.O. Box 772, Port Townsend, WA 98368

360-385-7192. info at seedalliance.org


A Northwest-based non-profit which serves the organic

seed industry and individuals. OSA offers workshops on

how to do seed production. Their 5th biannual conference

will be held February 14-15, 2008 in Corvallis, Oregon.


Seed Savers Exchange


Founded in 1975, this non-profit organization was a pioneer

in the heirloom seed movement. Huge catalog of seeds

available from gardeners around the country and internationally.



Native plant restoration, ecosystem restoration, erosion control,

daylighting streams, creating wildlife habitat, cleaning

up pollution, and so forth are worthwhile and necessary. A

healthier environment means better quality of life, more

productive environments, and better checks and balances in

our cultivated ecologies. It is well documented that agricultural

yields are higher and pest problems fewer where farm

fields border natural areas. A lot of restoration work is volunteer

but it can also offer meaningful work for people who

are not integrated into the current job economy. The native

plant restoration movement has grown larger and more experienced

over the past several decades.



I am proposing a sort of marriage between native plant

restoration, wildcrafting and Northwest tribal ethnoecology

practices. We can increase native edible plants in the

natural landscape as a human food source. This means

more people can wildcraft their own food. There is a

growing interest in wild foods by many people including

the primitive skills movement. Many cities and regions

have edible wild plant teachers. A growing interest in,

and knowledge of, wild foods combined with rising food

shortages could lead to overharvesting of some wild

foods. We need to increase wild foods, not decrease

them. Native plant restoration which deliberately includes

a generous portion of edible food plants can allow

more people to supplement their diet with wild foods.

Wild foods are gourmet eating and are generally more

nutrition-dense then cultivated plants. Planting and managing

stands of wild edible plants is what native tribes

practiced all over the Northwest prior to white settlement.

Wildcrafting has never died out even in the most modernized

cultures A lot of people still harvest wild foods

in the US especially in rural areas. Traditions continue in

most North American tribes and they are experiencing a

cultural resurgence for the last several decades. The

amount of land available for wildcrafting has been dwindling

due to loss of habitat to development and a continuing

"loss of the commons". An expanded native plant

restoration movement combined with edible native

plants can add to local food security and at the same time

achieve ecosystem restoration objectives.


"Keeping It Wild: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation

on the Northwest Coast of North America" by

Nancy Turner and Douglas Deur. 2005. University of

Washington Press. The best book on how Northwest native

tribes gardened the landscape.


Sustenance & Ecology on the Edge.


An article by Michael Pilarski on a permaculture view

of wildcrafting in an oceanside native plant community

on the Olympic Peninsula.



Complex and productive forest gardens have been developed

by many indigenous cultures in Asia, Africa, Central

America and the Pacific. Permaculture has been a

leader in developing contemporary forest gardens in all

kinds of climates. In fact, forest gardens are one of the

hallmarks of permaculture. The idea is to grow a lot of

fruit, food and other useful products in a multi-layered

system of trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, and ground covers.

Livestock are often integrated. These are long-term, productive



Edible Forest Gardens. 2 volumes. Ecological Design

and Practice for Temperate Climate Permaculture.

David Jacke. 2005. Chelsea Green Press. White River

Junction, VT. 378 and 654 pages. The most in-depth

book on the topic. www.edibleforestgardens.com


Agroforestry Research Trust,


Their website has limited information but they publish "Agroforestry

News", a quarterly newsletter, focusing on temperate

tree and shrub crops. Published in England, the best

journal on the topic. Available from the Permaculture Activist

in the USA.


Recipe for personal food production in the city.

As a permaculturist what would I do if I lived in the city

and wanted to produce my own food? Every situation is

unique but here are some things I am likely to do in order of


1) Learn how to recognize, harvest and process wild foods.

Where are the abandoned fruit trees? What weeds are edible?

2) Garden in my own yard (if I have one).

3) Garden in a nearby community garden. Start one if there

isn't one.

4) Set up a greenhouse to extend the growing season.

5) Integrate small livestock into my garden system if possible

such as chickens, ducks, rabbits and goats.

6) Grow useful plants up the walls and rooves of my house

and any outbuildings inasmuch as possible.

7) Guerilla gardening. Planting useful plants on other people's

property or public spaces for future harvest. This can

be with permission or sereptitiously.

8) Rent farmette land in the peri-urban fringe and commute

to my mini-farm.

9) Cooperate with my neighbors. Participate in social programs

and movements as outlined in Part II of this article.

I always have six to twelve months of food on hand because

of my gardening, bulk buying, food processing and barter

fairs. This is just my normal lifestyle. I don't think of it as

an emergency food supply, but it could be. I have the gardening

tools and know-how to grow productive gardens

with hand labor. This is personal food security. I'd like to

know I was surrounded by people who also had gardens

and full food pantries. This would be much safer than having

a full pantry surrounded by a sea of hungry people.



Creating socially-just and ecologically-sustainable local

food systems is an idea whose time has come. Permaculture

is one of many movements towards this end and has its particular

contributions to the whole. I hope this short article

has given you some insights. This article is a work in

progress and future installments may be issued.

Millions of us, working together

are co-creating the future.

Michael Pilarski, December 27, 2007

Friends of the Trees Society


Permaculture resources next page.

Permaculture Resources:

The two key books on temperate-climate, permaculture

gardening (both written by authors in Oregon) are:

Gaia's Garden.

Toby Hemenway. 2001. Chelsea Green Press, White

River Junction, VT.

Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden

and Your Neighborhood into a Community. Heather

Flores. 2006. Chelsea Green Press. White River Junction,


Major permaculture websites:

The Permaculture Activist


This is the best information source on North American

permaculture. The site includes a nation-wide list of permaculture

design courses and related trainings and a

Global Directory of permaculture groups.

Permaculture article on Wikipedia


Great introduction to permaculture at Wikipedia.


Great linking website for permaculture.


Great linking website and introduction to permaculture.


Northwest Permaculture Resources:

Eugene Permaculture Guild

julie at efn.org


Portland Permaculture Insitute

PMB #101, 3527 NE 15th Ave., Portland, OR 97212

503-293-8004. pam at portlandpermaculture.com


Vancouver Permaculture Network

#102 - 5698 Aberdeen St.,

Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V5R 4M6

Harold Waldock, cell :604-763-6984.

haroldw at alternatives.com


Seattle Permaculture Guild




The website for the Bullock's Brother Homestead on Orcas

Island. One of the best permaculture sites in the

country and an educational center.

Food Not Lawns

PO Box 42174, Eugene, OR 97404

(541) 343-4673. foodnotlawns at yahoo.com


Promoting peace and sustainability through permaculture,

organic living and community interaction.

Urban Permaculture Guild

6421 Hillegass Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

Katherine Steele. info at urbanpermacultureguild.org



Northwest Permaculture

Design Course

February 16-March 2, 2008.

Sahale Retreat Center,

Near Olympia, Washington

The course will be taught by Michael Pilarski, Laura Sweany

and guest presenters. An intensive, two-week residential

training. Some scholarships and work-trade fee reductions

are available. Further details are on my website:


I propose a permaculture design course for community

hunger and gardening organizations in the Northwest.

As a first step we would like to invite people from community

hunger organizations to take part in our 2008 permaculture

course at the Sahale Retreat Center near Olympia,

Washington. By the winter of 2008/2009 perhaps we will

have made enough connections with hunger groups to put

on a specific course tailored to them.


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