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Zen and the art of permaculture

When our GreenGroup went to Jen's house we were able to see a permaculture experiment first-hand. I had (and still have) a vague understanding of the theory behind permaculture, so I looked to Wikipedia to help me understand a little better. It's basically using nature to create a self-sustaining environment. Renee's earlier chicken analogy works: you grow vegetables to eat; you give the chickens the scraps; the chickens poop, thus fertilizing the soil for the vegetable garden. Jen and her husband have tried to incorporate this idea throughout their home and yard. Large trees shade the (oh-so-green-built) house, which keeps it cool in summer, eliminating the need to use natural resources. Other areas of the yard receive full sun for gardening. They've planted specific trees close together, because one gives off nitrogen that the others need to bear fruit. (Help, Jen, I don't have all the names!)

The feeling I had walking around was that the yard was "working". Every plant and tree had a job. They've planted a lot of native plants, which require little water and maintenance. If you're interested in seeing permaculture in action, there is actually a demonstration garden at the Portland Permaculture Institute. They will offer tours to groups of six or more and occasionally have public tours in the summer months. Another great resource is the Portland Permaculture Guild, an informal group that holds free monthly educational meetings the third Monday of the month in NE Portland. Have you dabbled in permaculture?

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