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Permaculture Gardening – The Eco-Friendly Way To Grow Healthful, Organic Food For Your Family


I have been researching permaculture gardening, lately, as it pertains to my ability to feed my family of four a significant amount of food from our own garden.  Permaculture gardening was developed by Bill Mollison in Australia and involves a number of inter-connected systems, including catching rain water, building swales, and creating food forests (rather than fruit orchards), that are all permanent, efficient, and as low-maintenance as possible.  Thereby maximizing output (food and fiber products, primarily) with a minimum of human labor or products purchased and brought in from off-site.

We live in the  Pacific Northwest, Seattle, where we have a mild year-round climate perfect for growing greens and a variety of other plants.  I have been interested in edible gardening since doing a sixth grade project involving choosing a plant to grow over the summer (I think I chose carrots).  We are not going all-out hardcore into full on permaculture, but I do like the idea of eating dandelion greens, starting a chicken coop, growing apples in a beautiful espalier hedge, and keeping bees.  If I’m feeling brave, I might even try growing some mushrooms as well.

Anyway, now, as we are building our house and planning to move forward into the new home (hopefully… soon….) I am looking for ways to squeeze as much productivity out of the garden as possible.


Why am I planning a permacuture garden?

1) Fun – It’s good to have an excuse to play outside in the dirt.

2) Feed my family for less money.  Hopefully… most of my gardening projects seem to not “add up” when I calculate the labor and purchased inputs, however, gardening is a front-loaded investment, and the longer you stick with it using sustainable practices, the better and easier your gardening will be in the long term.  (Watch this great video about a man in Sequim, WA who has a great garden – he calls it the Garden of Eden, with no irrigation, and he says it gets easier to take care of it every year.)

3) Higher quality food.  Since my son is autistic, I have discovered more than I wanted to know about the importance of our diet on our health and behavior.  He was the canary in the coal mine for me.  I have switched from being a “whatever is cheapest” shopper, to prioritizing the unseen quality of the product along with my pocket book.  Research shows that food grown on impoverished soils doesn’t contain as many nutrients and therefore is not an equivalent fuel.

4) Protection against economic shock.  I have found in my permaculture research that there are a lot of people in the home-gardening arena who are known as “preppers” who want to be prepared in case of economic collapse or various system failures.  While this is not a huge motivation for me, I think it’s smart to be able to provide for yourself in a variety of ways.  Especially if my husband were to lose a job, etc. it would be nice to be able to not worry about food.

5) Get my kids to eat more veggies.  I’m optimistic that if they grow the veggies, they will eat the veggies, or at least more of ’em.

6) Have something productive to do.  As a stay-at-home-mom, I struggle with feelings of validation… am I “contributing” to the family, even though I’m not earning a paycheck.  I see gardening as a way I can contribute.

7) Support a healthy ecology.  While I do not think of myself as an “enviornmentalist” and would love for global warming to bring that California climate up here to Seattle, I believe you want to leave a place as good or better than when you found it.  Organic gardening and permaculture appeal to me in that they seem to help leave the world a better place.

8) Become more seasonally aware.  Epi-Paleo blogger Jack Kruse, talks about the importance of eating seasonally, as due other health/nutrition gurus like Mark Sisson at  Since the produce is always the same in the grocery store, I look forward to becoming more aware to the passage of seasons, and eating seasonally from the garden, as our bodies were designed to do.

9) Grounding and Cold Therapy.  Based on my reading about earthing/grounding ourselves, and also the importance of spending time outdoors to get fresh air (away from “sick building syndrome) and getting lots of exposure to cold, I believe the time outside, though “unpleasant work” at times, especially off-season, will do me good.  It’s weird to go outside and  hang out in the winter just to “get grounded” and I find exercise outside boring without electronic entertainment (which I’m trying to get away from), so having garden chores to do will be good for me, and good discipline, as well.

10) Exercise. Getting out in the garden will get me out from in front of my computer!

11) Learning Experience For The Kids.  My sister-in-law is a recreational therapist… (yeah, plays games with kids for living…where did I miss that major in college?) and she has mentioned to me how fewer kids are getting time outdoors these days, especially in an unstructured environment, rather than in soccer for example.  Apparently, that’s not good for them so, when we’re in the garden, they can play while I work, or they can work and build some character!  “Grab that shovel kids, it’s clay-diggin’ time!”  I’m sure we can all remember the fun, and not-so-fun times from our childhoods, when we benefited from helping out around the house and feeling like we were accomplishing something, as we hauled firewood, weeded, mowed the lawn, or shoveled snow.  When you have a garden, it’s like a built-in home education system for your children. Plus they’ll learn about science when they see bugs!



What about you?

Have you been thinking about a garden or even already started a permaculture food forest at your place?  What’s motivating you?  Or what’s stopping you?  Join the conversation below and let’s air grievances and share pats on the back together!  What should I be wary of as I plow forward in this venture?


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Posted In: Family Activities, Gardening


  1. A mumtaz says:

    I am retired person 68 year old. I am in love with gardening. I have good size garden. I have 6 fruit trees vegetable garden and flowering garden. It keeps me busy and I love it doing something I garden. Anybody need some advice or I can aske any question.

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