A resurgent community spirit combined with modern Permaculture techniques is systematically transforming Australia’s back yards into edible landscapes – so why not the world?
I haven’t watched television for a really, really long time, so can’t be sure if it’s still the case, but I do remember that, for the ladies at least, shows featuring average looking people getting drop-dead gorgeous ‘makeovers’ by professional make-up artists were once pretty popular. Transfer the thought of a facial renovation over to a backyard transformation, and you get Backyard Blitz, a popular Australian television show that ran from 2000 – 2007. Now, some more eco-savvy people – like Melbourne’s Dan Palmer and some South American friends he met by chance one evening – took this concept a little further…. The result being to take useless, high maintenance, no- or low-yield cookie cutter back yards and turn them into high yield, low maintenance edible landscapes, all in one day! The name for the concept ultimately, and logically, came to be: Permablitz!
So, how would you like to see a small army of people arrive at your house one morning, not to make trouble, but to get busy turning your back yard into an aesthetic and edible oasis? And, no, don’t worry, they won’t charge you a cent! All you need to do is spend a couple of fun and educational weekends being part of this same small army – and then it’s your turn to have your yard transformed as well!
This is the Permablitz concept in a nutshell, alive and well in Melbourne, Australia, and spreading fast.
A Permablitz can include many elements to help turn your yard into a closed loop food production machine – from water harvesting to chicken tractors, worm farms to compost heaps. This is something I can get excited about. It’s the very best kind of subversive social behaviour – with the potential to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of everyday households. A diverse range of fresh food improves health, and the food is ‘transported’ from your back yard into your kitchen, produced with little to no outside inputs.
Another huge benefit is this concept’s ability to turn procrastination on its head – turning your oft-postponed closet interest in living more sustainably into a sudden in-your-face (or yard) instant reality. Getting involved means making new friends, learning very useful concepts and skills, and getting the jump on a more sustainable future.
In case you’re concerned you’d end up with a duff design, before the big day arrives you will meet with a volunteer Permaculture designer who will work with you to come up with a design that suits your site and needs. You also always have the option of paying to get your designer of choice if you’re that way inclined.
As far as I’m aware, this kind of idea hasn’t infiltrated the U.S. of A. as yet (I’m guessing someone must be doing it, but they’re too busy to let the world know! I’d be keen to learn of news on this, as this inspiration work shouldn’t go unnoticed). Either way, I’m hoping this post may inspire a few stateside individuals to propagate the concept. With a recession biting hard, and a serious energy reality looming large on the horizon, what better way to spend your weekends than building community networks and sharing knowledge and labour in this way?
Check out the clips below for inspiration, and the links further down for more info to help get you and your friends started on this simple but powerful vehicle for change. And please do let us know about your work if you do.
Channel 7 News cover a permablitz in Bundaberg
Permaculture Mullimbimby transform the back yard of a local health food shop
A short video from a weekend permaculture blitz in Sydney, Australia in late 2008
Eat the Suburbs: Gardening for the End of the Oil Age
- Starting Up Permablitzes in Your Region – a short manual
- Permblitz Sydney
- Permablitz Regional Groups