Gardens hyped for social benefits

Mark Lakeman speaks to SFU Vancouver’s guests about the role of placemaking in permaculture. Photo by Ashley Legassic
Mark Lakeman speaks to SFU Vancouver’s guests about the role of placemaking in permaculture.
Photo by Ashley Legassic

Permaculture, a herbacide- and pesticide-free gardening practice, may help help Vancouverites promote healthier lifestyles and create new friendships.

Permaculture combines knowledge from indigenous cultures with modern science in an effort to mimic nature.

“I think the biggest challenge is the separation from nature,” says Langara permaculture instructor Kym Chi. “There’s concrete everywhere, there’s roads… it separates not only us from each other, but us from nature as well.”

One technique permaculture uses is what Chi calls “social permaculture.”

Sustainable approach to public places

Social permaculture includes placemaking, which co-founder of The City Repair Project in Portland, Oregon Mark Lakeman, says benefits not only the environment, but also residents.

Placemaking is an approach to the design and management of public places that encourages residents to develop small areas of public land in a sustainable way, Lakeman said.

The vision of this project is localization of communities by “planting the seeds for greater neighborhood communication, empowering our communities and nurturing our local culture.”

Sustainable communities

According to Metro Vancouver, 35 per cent of metro Vancouver residents are renters, and Chi says placemaking is a great way for them to meet their neighbours.

Vancouver’s Kerrisdale Community Garden on 60th and Angus Drive is an example of placemaking.

It sells small plots of land to residents to grow fresh fruit.

Lakeman didn’t hold back when comparing the differences between a sustainable and an unsustainable society.

“In a sustainable society we wake up in the morning and say ‘well, we notice we have a bunch of children to mentor, maybe we should do some stuff’,” as opposed to an unsustainable society where the people are there to work and make money.

Dana Wilson of Village Vancouver says, “placemaking is our future,” and teaches students how to be leaders and work sustainably with the land and community.

To learn more about permaculture, you can attend the March 22 information session at Langara.


Reported by Ashley Legassic

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