10 Benefits Of Urban Permaculture
By: Patrick Bailey
Permaculture: It's all the rage in the agriculture community, and it's a trend that grabs the attention of scientists and hippies alike. But is it all that new?
Actually no; it's nearly as old as Earth itself. Permaculture focuses on "using" the earth for agriculture, not fighting against it. Using the earth means utilizing organic material, minimizing resource usage and realizing the many uses one single resource can have.
And permaculture is not just for idyllic pastures in Napa Valley or corn-country Iowa. You can practice urban permaculture in downtown Brooklyn, uptown Atlanta, South Central Los Angeles and everywhere in between.
1. Plants Are Good For Your Mental Health
It has been shown time and again that plants have a positive impact on urban dwellers' mental health. All that concrete, traffic and noise pollution is, as it turns out, pretty bad for our sapiens brains!
Moreover, when you have plants, you feel a sense of pride, ownership and purpose acting as a caregiver for this life. This is exemplified with recovering addicts, who often find caring for plants helps in their drug rehab and mental health recovery.
2. Urban Permaculture Saves You Money
Have you heard of the "urban heat island effect"? It's when urban areas covered with concrete rise to unbearable temperatures, and are far hotter than surrounding, greener areas. This is because there is nothing shielding this concrete from the sun, so it soaks it up the sun like a Midwesterner in the Florida winter.
But introduce plants to instead soak up the sun's rays and you'll have a much cooler area, which saves you money on your air conditioning bill. Think plants on the roof, living balconies and plants that block direct sunlight from penetrating windows.
3. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Permaculture embraces the "zero-waste" approach; while this is not always practical in an urban setting, it can nonetheless help you to reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of heading for the dumpster, discarded food enriches the soil with nitrogen and carbon while egg shells strengthen a soil's calcium content.
4. Perennials Help The Local Insect Population
Permaculture places a heavy emphasis on native, perennial plants, which are loved and adored by local insect populations. So not only will you provide an essential resource to your local bee population, but you'll get the benefits of vibrant, native plant flowers that come from local insects pollinating your plants.
5. Urban Permaculture Improves Your Indoor Air Quality
If you choose to practice permaculture indoors, it will have a drastic impact on the air quality of your home and, in particular, the amount of particulate matter and Volatile Organic Compounds floating around in the air.
6. Keep Mosquitos Away
Nothing says a beautiful, serene summer night like a glass of wine, a sunset, and incessant buzzing around your head. Right? Permaculture strategically incorporates several plants, such as lemongrass, into garden design to help mitigate unwanted pests and insects.
I didn't believe this until I stayed on a permaculture farm in Thailand. For ten days I never left the farm, and for ten days I thought, "You know? The mosquitos aren't that bad here!". As soon as I stepped off the farm I was assaulted by the blood-sucking vampires; the farm was so well-lined with lemongrass and other herbs that mosquitos hate, they never even thought about flying into the farm.
7. Cut Down Your Food Costs
This one is self-explanatory; growing your own food means buying less at the store. And there's nothing more satisfying than plucking a little basil from the garden and throwing it into that fresh spaghetti.
8. Food From Your Garden Is Healthier
Not only does it taste better, but food straight from your garden is actually much more nutritious than food from the supermarket. Produce loses an average of 30% of its nutrients just three days after it's harvested, and you're extraordinarily lucky if you get produce from a supermarket three days after harvest. Most likely you're getting it a week after it's been harvested. Not nearly as much nutrient density as you'll find in your homegrown permaculture garden.
9. Reduce Your Fertilizer Costs
Walking out of those home improvement stores with bags of artificial fertilizer actually adds up over time. Especially if you buy into the "pre-care", "growth phase" and "post-care" nutrient cycling (marketing) material.
Now, that marketing material is not wrong. It's just unnecessary that you buy those nutrients in a bag form. Permaculture encourages the use of things like EM, which you can produce almost entirely from your own food waste and food byproducts.
Natural fertilizers like this feed your soil before sewing seeds, during the growth phase and even post-harvest. And healthy soil means healthy food.
10. Permaculture Strengthens Communities
Permaculture encourages things like "land share", which empowers individuals with extra land to share it with others in the area so food can be grown there.
And we're NOT talking communes here. We're talking about grassroots, community-driven permaculture initiatives that bring strangers together and give communities a shared sense of purpose.
Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.