Community Home Garden
Supporting the design of a mixed and productive permaculture garden
Partner/ Client: A cohousing community in Geneva.
Vision of the Community: To increase the productivity of the garden in a 100 % organic way, while keeping enough space for biodiversity and the recreation function of the garden.
Design and development process: All the design and implementation work were conducted together with the inhabitants of the community. The Sociocracy framework was applied to guide the collaboration process. For example, there was no consensus on the level of mixed permaculture approach vs. “conventional” gardening. The planning process got finally stuck, when half of the group wished to establish a Hugelkultur system (raised bed), while the other half was not convinced. What to do? The Edhen consultant suggested to conduct an experiment on half of the cultivated plots. This compromise found a consensus among all participants. And the garden design was completed accordingly.
- The garden was successfully re-designed and is now producing significantly more food, with 0% chemical inputs. The bio-intensive crop production on about 20% of the garden, left enough space for the other needs of the community and wildlife.
- The transformation was achieved within one growing season.
- All participants, with their specific skills and inputs were important for the success.
- Depending on the site conditions various crop-combinations were established. Ordinary level and Hugelkultur beds were established (the later is particularly beneficial for poor soil conditions). Crops planted in the Hugelkultur system grew faster, were more healthy and gave higher yields.
- The soil has been significantly improved using compost, decaying wood and mulching with locally collected biomass. The soil became particularly more fertile on the Hugelkultur bed, with visibly improved: soil structure, water holding capacity and soil biological activity with many earthworms.
- In summary, after accompanying the community for one growing season: The challenges and success factors were heavily related to the social collaboration process, while finding technical solutions was the easier part.