In many urban areas, like the tiny & inspirational community garden at Blarney Park, Dublin city, space efficient design is a core principle.
Community gardens in the city are fantastic little oasis' of calm! And concentrations of ideas, food production, learning, sharing knowledge & skills, socialising, celebration, connecting together & much more besides.
I spent Saturday onsite with the Blarney park crew for a permaculture design workshop. Our basis was that the design would be limited only by the imagination of the designers...ourselves! So with some simple Permaculture patterns & design tools, & a group of focussed & creative individuals, we clarified the group vision for the project, observed micro climates & resources on site (delightful south facing walls!), brainstormed heaps of ideas suggested by some key permaculture themes, & sketched up a draft plan for the first phase of the site works.
Some Key themes we explored were....
Grow up! (and down!): make the most of 3 dimensional spaces, think in volume rather than area. Grow up walls & fences, on top of sheds, & over boundaries.
(Re) Cycle energy, keep it onsite & generate more: Glasshouses against South facing walls, Composting (toilets!), Scavenge, Invest funding wisely, Grow what you will eat!
Identify, use & enhance your microclimates: to maximise solar gain, place taller things to the North of the site & smaller things the south. Be careful not to create shade with your layout.
Maximise Diversity & Have more than one supply source: Rainwater harvest & river water, Rocket stove & flasks! Grow things you can't buy, use the space for growing, learning, sharing, relaxing....
Co operation & beneficial connections: create win-win relationships with neighbours, other growers, between plants & all elements in the garden.
A big thanks to all at Blarney Park for a warm welcome, enthusiasm, & a productive & inspirational Saturday!
To join in with a Dublin community garden near you.... or start one! see http://dublincommunitygrowers.ie/For small space inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpOoLYXKFUU