In line with City Green’s mission to use urban farming as a means to combat food insecurity and the destruction of the environment is a concept called permaculture, defined as “a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.” Simply put, permaculture is a design science rooted in the observation of natural systems. It’s a way to integrate food production into the naturally-occurring ecosystem, with the belief that trees, shrubs, edible plants, animals, and fungi – in essence, the entire ecosystem – will benefit from interactions between different species and organisms. While traditional agriculture attempts to tame the natural environment by tightly controlling water and soil and eliminating unwanted species like pests or weeds, permaculture rejects the use of fertilization, pest control, and irrigation. It is a no-till method of agriculture that utilizes native plants to grow food in a model that is entirely sustainable for the long-term. While the word “permaculture” comes from modern academia, the practice actually dates back millennia and continues to be practiced by indigenous communities around the world today. Closely related to the concept of permaculture is agroforestry, defined as “an intensive land management system that optimizes the benefits from the biological interactions created when trees and/or shrubs are deliberately combined with crops and/or livestock.”
At City Green, these concepts are put into action through the Permaculture Food Forest Project, a section of the City Green Farm Eco Center that resembles a naturally occurring forest, but upon closer examination is a complex food-producing eco-system where trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, groundcover, roots, and fungi grow together in harmony, the way nature intended, while simultaneously producing a variety of edible plants including vegetables and medicinal herbs. In addition to preserving the natural ecosystem, the Permaculture Forest Project is an essential learning tool that allows City Green visitors to explore the concepts of permaculture and agroforestry and witness firsthand a model in completely self-sustaining agriculture.