In a time where it has become very dangerous to trust the food industry, growing some of what you eat is green gold. This small urban family decided to transform their backyard and quality of life with a little help from Biophilia ;)
Small urban families often struggle to afford good food.
For any city dwelling family, it can be a challenge to figure out how to live a healthier lifestyle whilst bringing down their costs of living. Canadians spend an average of around $200 a month per person on food bought in stores, according to Global News' analysis of Statistics Canada data. Therefor groceries account for a big part of expenses and organic foods are even harder to fit in the budget. Celeste and Edouard, were looking for solutions and came to us, curiosity to know how permaculture could be of help.
As with any project, it starts with a preliminary conversation about: lifestyle habits, needs, goals and means. For Celeste and Edouard, the main concern was to food because they love to cook. They have a backyard but had not seriously considered an edible garden because of the shady conditions, limited gardening space, pesky squirrels and the family dog named Pixelle. However, with a bit of adjusting we felt there was a lot of potential for them to grow some of their own fresh food. After a few more discussions on what they would be interested in growing, it was time to start our observations of the backyard.
Observation is key!
The most important step in designing any permaculture space is observation. In the case of a garden project, from figuring out what is already growing, soil type, what kind of wildlife frequents that space, the sun's trajectories, temperature gradients across the yard, how often the space is used...these are all critical details to take into consideration. After compiling our own observations, we asked Celeste to confirm them by circle in turquoise the areas with the longest sun exposure in the summer season.
Turns out the sunniest spot in the backyard was a section upon a wooden deck and just below it, which was an area covered by cement tiles. After confirming they were open to changing things up, we went with a raised vegetable garden bed design (to increase sun exposure, warmth and keep the veggies clear of the dog) and a protected ground level herb garden (they had good soil with lots of worms under the cement tiles).
The family was on a budget so we built the raised garden bed with left over wood they had from a previous project and repurposed wood from recycled pallets.
Our favorite growing medium to use is the Lambert LM-ORG. All our plants love it!
WHAT TO GROW
For this project it was important to grow edibles that were happy in half shade conditions. We have our own greenhouses and gardens so we provided them with a variety of our own tomato plants, squash, carrots, kale chives and loads of fresh herbs. For seeds, we like to purchase ours from Écoumène which is a wonderful Québec based organic farm we like to support. Also, their seed packaging allows you to understand all the planting requirements for any given plant at a glance = great for our clients who are sometimes beginners in gardening ;)
We wanted a selection of edible and medicinal plants guilds that work well together and who would come to maturity at different moments to allow for green mulching and successive harvesting.
PLANTING TIME :)
The beautiful part of doing these projects is that everyone participates so it becomes a hands-on family project and learning opportunity we at Biophilia feel so happy to offer.
"Wow, I never thought I would one day eat something from my backyard except fine herbs."
"The garden not only provided us with food we could safely enjoy but caring for the garden became a new family activity. To be outside observing and tasting what is growing or watering the plants with my daughter is so calming"
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