Imagine The Abundance – Urban Gardens

Imagine, you’re perusing the Sunday paper, thumbing through various articles, world news, sports, opinion pieces… yea, we’ve all been there. What feelings arise for you as the images pass by your eyes? Article after article, world news and local… everything seems so dismal.

In disgust and with a freshly drained world view, you fold the paper up and drop it back down on the table. Just before you look away and try to forget the morning sorrow, a small advertisement catches your eye.


Free garden? Sounds too good to be true. But it’s about the only positive thing you’ve seen this morning. What have you got to lose?

What you don’t know is that, behind the scenes, there are 20 knowledge hungry permaculture students waiting to get out of the classroom and get their hands dirty in your very own backyard!

Enter The Permaculture Research Institute’s, Nick Huggins, and his class of Urban Design & Consultancy Students.

With help from Nick, you’ve sourced all the materials, made sure you’ve stayed within your budget (yea, well… you do have to provide something. A small materials cost will be well worth the expense after that first time you bypass the produce section in the supermarket), and now, there’s a mountain of compost next to Gravel Summit and The Great Wall of Strawbale all ready to somehow be transformed into your new backyard garden. Oh yea… and that pesky depressing paper? It’s there too… along with many more like it, waiting to meet what you hope will be their final resting place.

With great anticipation, you try to envision how those pieces might all fit together. You imagine watching steaming piles of compost being shoveled atop some pathetic politicians face. “That’ll do ’em right,” you mutter out loud with a sinister grin.

The Business of Permaculture

Nick brings an interesting approach to teaching permaculture. One that, I personally believe, is not taught or even talked about enough in permaculture circles. Nick uses his time in the classroom to show students the viability of permaculture as a model for ethical AND profitable business.

Profit. The word itself can drag up some of the same feelings and emotion as those grim sunday headlines. In fact, some might say that many of those headlines are the result of our profit driven society. In permaculture however, we take every opportunity to see how a problem can be turned into a solution… how wastes of one system become resource for the next.

Profit, itself, is not inherently evil anymore than a hammer is a weapon. Like any other tool, it’s all in how we use it. The ethics of permaculture (earth care, people care, share of surplus) not only provides some direction to how we might use profit for good… it directs us clearly to share it for the good of the people and the planet. Imagine if all the world’s financial transactions were guided by these ethics?

Sharing the surplus of his successes in permaculture business has allowed Nick to grow permaculture’s reach into new demographics that would otherwise go unserved. Our clients, the Finlayson’s, are the latest beneficiaries of that surplus.

The Garden of Your Future

It’s Wednesday morning, a light rain just thinned out as a bus full of permies pulls in to the drive. You can hardly contain your excitement as this international team of permaculture interns greets you.

After a quick brief, the team gets to work marking out the design with a can of blue paint as you try to envision the plants draping over the edges of thin blue lines, heavy with produce.

As images of your future garden flash before your eyes the reality is manifesting in front of you… you stare intently, trying not to blink fearing you might miss the amazingness of it all unfold.

Over the course of next three days you watch as the cycles of abundance are set into motion in your very own back yard. There’s no stopping it now. An engine has been started under your soils, and in your heart. What a gift!

(Special thanks to Mark Finlayson and family for the wonderful hospitality and time lapse photography and all the students, interns and teachers of the PRI who made this such an amazingly inspirational experience.)

3 thoughts on “Imagine The Abundance – Urban Gardens

  1. theron, I love that you chose the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland as your background for this piece!!! (that might be me and my friends up there on the summit…!)

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