Permaculture on the Haarlebrink

This is a first in a series of blog entries about our permacultural project at the Haarlebrink in Enschede. Let's first introduce the idea.
| posted on Sun, 07 Jan 2007, 21:46 | weblog | rss | spin-off | comments |

A few months back, I (Rick) started wondering why there are such dull, and badly maintained public bushes around our square (named Haarlebrink). I was reading about permaculture, and the basic thought intrigued me -- if you put plants anywhere, why not make them useful. I started thinking about naughty things like throwing seeds in the public bushes and harvest pees and beans and such.

When I started talking to Robin, a freshly educated gardener, the idea soon evolved to actually redesigning the whole green area around our square. The idea of using permanent plants wherever possible was a good match. Robin, who's skilled as a garden designer, started working these ideas into a garden design.

It's been great fun to integrate our skills -- my bookwormy approach to find useful plants and his practical knowledge and love for nicely looking plants. It turned out to be surprisingly straightforward to come up with a long list of plants that are both nice to look at, and edible or useful in some other way. We found it practical to each make our own list and then judge them together, grading them on a scale from 1 to 10. Robin planned the site according to this scale, starting with the best-scoring plants, and finding them a place with the right amount of sun or shade, and so on.

All the neighbours that we told about this idea responded positively. Some simply liked that something was being done to the boring and often ugly green space, others actually liking the wild idea to use the space for something of use to everyone. There were a few who spontaneously offered their help, but the construction of the plant list has thus far been left to Robin en me.

At this point we have setup a lot of information to look at. First, there is a Dutch wiki with a lot of plant information, some of which is in English. We made heavy use of the impressive body of knowledge on the excellent site Plants for a Future. Second, we have a few initial designs for the premises.

We are gearing up to announce these plans to the local government, and get them to cooperate. We are expecting that we can ask them to remove the old plants, permit us to setup our own at their expense. The fact that we are going to maintain the site voluntarily is going to be a strong argument; they will appreciate that in terms of social bonding and also saving work for their maintenance staff. It's going to be an interesting week.

To the list of articles about the permaculture for the Haarlebrink.

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