Permaculture and Creative (urban) Living

permaculture and creative urban living

Having been throwing myself into all things permaculture minded for the past good few years, it was a little tricky looking over at all the identical perfectly mown lawns and not think of how I would like to quietly rip a good proportion of all that grass up.

Sure it wasn’t mine to rip up, but what an enticing dream it would be.

Instead of perfectly manicured ornamental gardens with impeccable weed free edging, there instead might be a line of fruit giving trees all the way up the street as far as the eye could see. All within easy reach of the foot path, all for people to pluck as they needed, and as often as taste buds sung out.

This line of fruit trees would also give a little shade to those that chose to walk the many uphills under a blazing summer sun. The ones that forewent the air-conditioned comfort of cars, that would drive on unseeing to all that food yet to be foraged by knowing fingers.

Or maybe there would be a canopy of beans to walk through, that might be right next to a forest of nuts and bananas, a pedestrian round about, with herbs circling in a mandala kind of fashion.

The possibilities are deliciously endless and certainly not restricted to the street side. So how does permaculture entwine with creative living?

Well in my mind they lie hand in hand, it’s an ability to think outside the square. To be able to create and be adaptable to the environment that you’ve been placed. Making do with what you have essentially, and in a sustainable fashion, thriving from within it. There are patterns, there are creations, and there are probably a multitude of pops of colour.

finding patterns

finding patterns

The more formal definition of permaculture…

What is Permaculture?

‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.’ [David Holgrem]

Finding a definition of creativity is a little harder to narrow down. There are so many branches to the word, and as there should be, the word in itself is a creative one of which meaning depends on the user alone.

Not restricting the word to the art world, I did like this line though when reading through the many variations…

‘Creativity is the ability to transcend the ordinary’

And that brings me back to those perfectly damn mown lawns again.

Whether you live in a busy city studio with a cat named Peter or an off grid farm that is the dictionary definition of diversity. What would you do with a street full of perfectly manicured, grassed gardens? Tell me… or even better, what HAVE you done? I’d lovvvve to know.


(This post is 1 of 3 in a series on creativity.)

Extra Bits 

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

Permaculture Principles– a mighty resource that will get you started.

Buderim’s “Eat Street”Urban Food Street, a neighbourhood initiative that started from a conversation about over priced limes 7 years ago. This initiative now covers 11 streets, with people moving into the area, because they want to be involved.

Urban Farming- The Leaky Pipe


28 thoughts on “Permaculture and Creative (urban) Living

  1. Perfect Sunday morning reading Brydie, thanks!
    Love your bean canopy idea. Although I live in an area of manicured lawns, all the growing and producing goes on in the back gardens (I often find bags of lemons, oranges and figs on the doorstep). I do LOVE the idea of things flourishing out front though, for everyone to enjoy and live amongst.
    The avocado and olive trees in Urban Food St in Buderim sound beautiful and much nicer than the silly (useless!) ornamental plum trees planted around my neighbourhood in the 1950s.
    PS. Love Maya Angelou’s quote🙂


    • Yep, ornamental plums got a good planting over that time didn’t they!
      I’m not sure if the backyards are brimming with edible goodness round here. One of my neighbours does and he is a legend. All the others I’ve seen…hmm, not so much. I’m hoping they are just hidden and I haven’t spotted them yet though.
      And hooray for you, for finding lemons, oranges and figs on your front door step. That’s awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My mind thinks like this too. My mum detests manicured lawns, and I’ve inherited the gene! We bought our house 4 years ago, and the biggest patch of lawn for us (with also the best sun aspect and level ground) is our 8 metre deep verge. And so compost heaps were built, plans were made, neighbours were connected with as they donated trailer loads of autumn leaves that were destined for the tip, and a beautiful mandala garden, and native/ indig garden was created! It’s fed us a majority of our veggies ever since, and I love, love, love it so! It creates food, habitat, community, love, knowledge, generosity and friendship. A integral part of making our house our home.


  3. Very interesting Brydie with so many lovely ideas and possibilities! Over the years the edible part of my garden has taken over from the ornamental side of my garden. The very hardy, drought tolerant ornamental plants remain as do the shade trees because we haven’t got enough water to sustain a completely edible garden. But, I also find that most of my energy goes into the edible side of things. With a young family and a farm to manage my gardening time is limited so I have to prioritize. The vegetables and fruit trees get 90% of my attention and the other plants basically take care of themselves. We ripped up most of our lawn years ago and replaced it with thick, dense rosemary bushes. Once again, this was more of a water issue than anything else. I love the idea of a bean canopy! x


    • aaah…I would love to get to a point where the majority of the garden takes care of itself. A naturally evolving project that ends up on our dinner plates…
      How much rain do you get Jane?
      Actually I was thinking of your corner of the world yesterday. I was reading up on the Broken Heel Festival, thinking how awesome that would be, and what an amazing photo opportunity that would be. Plus I get to take pictures of red dirt!


  4. I love my tiny patch of lawn surrounded by lots of trees. So that I can play ball, totem tennis, get out the paddling pool, hose ourselves down in the midst of summer, hose off the worm farm and any other stinky thing knowing the gunk is going back into that tiny patch of grass and it’s surrounds, have teddy bears picnics and pitch the tent and have “sleep outs” in the day time with my daughter. It’s the PERFECT size! Some fruit trees but mostly not as they were already here and I just love them – my favourite is the Perppermint tree that overhangs and acts as a canopy from the hot sun. Self seeding veggies and herbs. i planted nothing this year so I relied on self seeding. The grassed area was a lot bigger once (especially for a unit in a block of 8 which normally only has a courtyard) and I had ideas of making a secret garden, taking away the grass, adding in pathways and a mosaic circle for putting a circular table, fruit trees, herbs, cottage flowers that would be useful in the kitchen and in my sketch books and for my eyes to feast, with a rain tank and trickling water in a pond somewhere in there too but now three quarters of the grass has been taken away to house a studio (since my daughter was born four years ago). It’s all surrounded by a lush eco system which pretty much looks after itself because of what I’ve chosen to have there … Besides lots of pruning. I had dreams of doing things in a permaculture way and even looked into doing a course to really get to know it but I just do the best I can these days as I have a child and work from home. I’ve just spent the weekend pottering around in my garden and the front communal garden making everything look nice again. And I LOVED it. It’s inspiring. And by the way, I’m in an old suburb of Perth and are lucky to have fruit trees (mainly mulberries) dotted around the place on the kerb sides. It’s lovely!!! I’d love to see more of that. I know that happens more in Freo and other “alternative” suburbs where I’d love to live but just do what I can where I am. There’s even an old playground which has been turned into a communal garden (subsidised) by the government which I would love to get involved with eventually. Our verge is dry grass and sand that never gets watered and I often think about planting fruit trees all along but the council won’t approve it! Only what they give you to put there. I was planning on “just doing it” anyhow …


    • Brigette I reckon just do it, enjoy the benefits and beg for forgiveness afterwards (if you need to.) Surely it would be a fairly backward council, that says no you can’t put in some edibles within in an unused/ unloved area. Surely! (well fingers crossed for you anyway.)

      Glad you found such enjoyment from gardening all weekend too. It’s incredibly calming, naturally you slow down a little and hopefully reap rewards from it all. Go you good thing…and garden well🙂

      And enjoy those mulberries!


      • Oh, I’m reaping the rewards alright. I can FEEL I’ve been in the garden, which even though I’m hurting, it feels so good to know my body had a good workout. It doesn’t get it that often these days. Yep, not only purple/red mulberries but white ones too. And no one eats them. They just drop on the ground and get wasted. You can smell them fermenting … I think they think they’re not ripe yet?

        Yep, you’ve got my little brain ticking over as I haven’t thought about the whole front verge thing for a while now. I have a paw paw in a pot here that I have to find a space for and then i could start planting things underneath. I’d have to build an are for it as it’s pretty bad soil … It would be difficult to water but it could be done and I can’t see me leaving here for a while so it’s not like someone else will be left to look after it … Mind you, there’s a part of me thinking, “What are you trying to do to yourself? There’s so much to look after already on top of your work!!!” Ha! Long ago before I had my girl was when I thought about it most.


      • Brigette could you do some sneaky compost digging within the soil (if night if need be). Just dig a hole and dump it un processed, ie, food scraps. It would be a slower process but time friendly and you are still working on it increments?


      • I don’t even need to do that Brydie as I have a worm farm so I could add that into some soil as well as the liquid. It wouldn’t take much at all with the grass clippings and then I could have self seeding happen as well from the worm mulch. Just the lack of time at present. Unfortunately we had about a week of 40º+ last week and I’ve gone to empty the worm farm as it’s overflowing and the worms are dead. :0( That’s how busy I’ve been. A bit under the pump … I shouldn’t even be on here but can’t help myself when it comes to gardens! Normally I would do all the right things to keep them alive when it gets this hot but to be honest, I forgot as I was that busy. I’ve had 6 weeks of being up in the night with my girl (a thing called overactive bladder which makes her think she needs to go to the toilet and then can’t go – one night she spent the WHOLE night on the toilet!! Thank goodness it’s fixed but now I’m 6 weeks behind on work) then keeping my little girl occupied over the school holidays. Now she’s started kindy, it’s time to get on top of it all. So I’m thinking I could try it next year when she’s in full time school as I have a feeling this year’s going to be busy setting myself up for a lovely business that’s flourishing by next year. Need to concentrate on that … Mind you, the gardening brings me inspiration. My back garden can give me that for the time being. Just that and the front communal garden keeps me busy enough. I’ll get there. It’s implanted now so it’s on that dream list (that will happen) … Now, I best go and get that work done before I need to pick up my daughter. EEEK!


  5. So many awesome ideas. I am not much of a gardener, but this season did produce a pretty decent amount of edible goodness all living in pots for easy movement ect. The pretty flowers and stuff are silk or plastic because looking after them is out of my scope. Love the sound of a bean canopy, a cherry tomato canopy would be fabulous too.


    • You just have to find the right flowers I reckon Anna. There are some damn robust ones out there!🙂
      Good on you for the pots though. They can be hard work, but so rewarding, when that’s your patch of green. Grow good things!


  6. Mmm, i am loving this creativity series already.I have been staring at our main street for some time and wish it was completely replanted in citrus , just like in a city in Spain I once visited.I would plant them all while everyone was asleep against all the shop brickwalls, near the cafe ….anywhere there was dirt really…and because everyone was asleep, ..i would avoid the red tape and forms there are to be filled in for such an enterprise and for years after people would be picking oranges and wondering how the trees got there and I would just smile secretly.


  7. Oh and one more thing .What have I done….in a park in Sydney, missing my garden terribly…..a long time ago, I planted pumpkin seeds ….wasnt there long enough to see them come up….but often wonder if someone saw them and wondered how they got there.


  8. Pingback: Permaculture and Creative (urban) Living | cityhippyfarmgirl – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

  9. We don’t really have a backyard so i have planted bananas, a cherry guava, lemon and mandarin in our front garden. The bananas are towering now and there are three bunches of bananas maturing atm. The cherry guava produced loads of fruit this year although the birds got most of them but that’s ok. I had a mulberry cane I saved from a previous house and have since made a few trees from it. I planted one on the verge a couple of years ago. It struggled for the first 2 years and I had wondered if council would make me remove it. They haven’t and it cost me nothing, It is starting to do a lot better now although the soil is very hard out the front and i have had a few mulberries. I love the colour and shine of the new leaves. My food forest garden makes me feel like I am in a tropical paradise. Oh and I even bought a dwarf coconut tree about 2 years ago that is supposed to like the sub tropics (I’m on the Sunshine Coast Qld) – it hasn’t done much yet but I hope it will be inspired by the tough mulberry tree. I have about 4 different types of bananas which I bought about 3 years ago as tube stock from a grower in Tully, North Qld and I just love them. I have planted edible ginger all over the place too and it’s a beautiful looking plant as well as the yummy flavours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katie adore every part of this. Not being restricted by not having a backyard, persistence, planting on the verge…love it all. All those plants make a massive difference for your own well being but they all send a wonderful message to people passing by. Love it. So glad, I asked for people’s stories, they’ve all been so inspiring!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness, that sounds wonderful Katie! When you take a look at plants and think about the length of time and nurturing that’s gone into them, it reminds one how quickly we do reap the rewards. Isn’t it wonderful when you have that “history” with something how it makes it that much tastier? My sister wants to move back up to the Sunshine Coast but I doubt she’s do what you’ve done … Unless I went to visit of course and got her started???!


  10. Hello! Just popping by to say hi and how are you doing? Over here in Bristol my friend Sarah has got Incredible Edible Bristol up and running the last year or so and I go and do little bits from time to time, i.e. turn up dig a bit, weed a bit, plant a bit while she has done all the organizing but it is brilliant and lifts my heart to see people optimistically planting and repurposing public streets, parks and green spaces with food plants, the whole education, sharing, future believing gestalt of it, good to know it is happening all over the world! xx


  11. I really, desperately want other people around me, to garden and share with, as far as I know there are only two homes near me where people garden. If I had access to all of the others? Beatiful, sustainable food and native gardens as far as the eye can see. We have horrible hard clay here so rather than lush grass, during the summer most of what you see is sad wispy dried ouy grass, showing hard cracked clay in the gaps.
    At the moment I’m investigating verge planting via my local council’s website, I figured that if I can’t personally plant out every garden on my street I can hopefully do something about the verge (and maybe inspire someone!).


  12. Pingback: How to be Creative with Kids Around (Or How to Milk the Day for every Second it Has) | cityhippyfarmgirl

  13. this is something that I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to (in those odd free moments I can squeeze in between the busy-ness of juggling life and kids of course!)

    indeed I even included thoughts on how to intertwine permaculture and creativity in my MFA research project a few years ago and then threw a more digestible wordy piece out into the world — you may/or not be interested in this >> <> <<


  14. Pingback: Finding my tribe #Brydie at Cityhippyfarmgirl – Greening the Rose

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