Permaculture systems evolve naturally by responding to the surrounding environment. While there are basic principles, every system is different. “You can’t jump right into permaculture – it is actually generations of observation and development.”
Bruce Haynes is particularly fascinated by urban gardens and their ability to enhance food and economic freedom.
Over the last five years, he has been developing ideas for increasing yields and responding to local challenges. Recently, he introduced guinea pigs as a source of protein and has discovered they are great at keeping the lawn mowed too! Watching them dash between the tunnels, playing and exploring, nibbling on plants is particularly satisfying. “It is like having my own herd,” says Bruce, with a satisfied smile.
Naturally, there are chickens in the garden too – a very useful component of a food producing system. They can wreak havoc on seedlings though (as the guinea pigs would), so Bruce has created the Food Garden Pod to ensure that animals can roam freely and plants are protected.
The locally made wire geodesic domes are adapted from ideas he found on the internet, to suit local conditions. For instance, they are covered in hail netting which is important in the Midlands. “Hail stones just bounce off them,” he says, keeping the broccoli safe when everything else is shredded. They are small and light enough to lift off and move around as required. Two metres in diameter means you can reach the centre of the bed without treading on the soil, but provide plenty of space for growth. The pods function well as mini seedling nurseries too. While they have not yet been tested on keeping goats at bay, they are very effective against the flocks of mouse birds which decimate so many urban gardens in spring.
Fortunately, in the urban environment, roads are natural fire breaks and garden walls keep wild animals away, so Bruce can put additional effort into creating a natural system that requires as little effort and management as possible, where vegetables self-seed and chickens scratch soil to create the ideal environment for germination.
Bruce subscribes to the idea that humans can have a positive impact on an ecosystem through careful observation, and help create complexity and improved health. Swales are a good example of this – while initially the micro-organisms in the soil were disturbed by digging, the swales now catch water, raise the water table and provide new habitats.
Using the Food Garden Pods anyone can convert a patch of lawn into an easy to maintain, neat garden. It is really demoralising for new gardeners to have their efforts destroyed by birds or hail. These Pods are a simple solution – easy to install, enhancing local livelihoods and improving food security. They are really attractive too.
Contact Bruce Haynes on firstname.lastname@example.org. Large Pods cost R750 (good for cauliflower and broccoli) and small ones cost R450 (good for lettuce)