i've posted a blog on my profile introducing the permablitz to the transition toronto community. i don't think there has been any discussion or blitzes happening with you guys yet so here you go!
to facilitate discussion, i'm posting the blog here in full and please leave comments in this thread. let me know what you think and i really hope some of y'all will take this awesome opportunity for good times!
[ permablitz 101 ]
permaculture + blitz (german for lightning)
the idea is that a community member who wants to have their property, or some community space, permablitzed works out a design and prepares all the materials that will be necessary in advance. a date for the blitz is set and other community members are contacted to join in the fun! the plan is for the design to be set-up in one day with all of the extra hands helping out. everyone leaves with new skills, friendships, good workouts and well-fed tummies.
save the costs of acquiring supplies (plants, trees, materials) and feeding the volunteers, the design and cost of labour are nil for the person whose yard is to be transformed and free for those who participate.
the permablitz originated in melbourne australia under the initiative of dan palmer in 2006. dan found a great 'edge' with permaculture and the local south american community centre who had trouble sourcing the crops they used to cook with back home. for a great article on the early history of permablitzing check this out !
the amish barn-raising technique is similar to the blitz. barn raising is a specialized skill that takes a lot of knowledge, and people power to accomplish successfully. all able community members arrive to help raise a neighbours barn, learn how to do it themselves over time and spend the day working and eating with their fellows.
since the first blitz in 2006, hundreds of blitzes have occurred throughout the world, transforming the suburbs and city one property at a time. some of melbourne's blitzes can see a hundred volunteers coming through the site in a day! everything from a total backyard urban farm, to greywater system installations and urban husbandry, there are really no limits to what can be done in a day with some good planning in advance.
by decentralizing the production of food, bringing it into direct contact with the individuals/community, and fostering softer and more meaningful modes of spending our time, we are participating in a radical, subversive and fundamentally transitionary act in this age of predatory capitalism and economic/environmental instability.
i began organizing permablitzes with the thepermacultureproject-gta last year and we had some very successful days, satisfied homes and joined some wonderful fellow blitzers. through them i became aware of a transition town movement in toronto and would like to eagerly invite anyone to host a blitz of their own! mostly, we have been installing mostly (as near as possible) closed-loop, edible garden designs and look forward to doing all kinds of permaculture-inspired projects in the future.
how-to permablitz toronto
currently, this is the model i am working with. i would love any feedback and welcome all to use this model in their neighbourhoods or assist me in organizing.
1. contact a permablitz designer and get your design cap on! we will come by your place to check out soil quality, sector analysis and map out the permaculture zones to make the design as efficient and long-term as possible. you can have an aesthetically pleasing, curvy edge garden to complement your existing landscaping or we can re-do the entire situation. no place is too small or too shady, there is always something we can do to get you moving into greater self-sufficiency. the design process is an ongoing dialogue between the home-dwellers and the designer(s).
2. once we have a design mapped out, we start looking for materials. there are many ways to make this as cost-effective as possible. permaculture has many ways to build soil with yard 'waste' products available on the curb throughout the gardening season, and we can scavenge restaurant/grocery stores. you can all pay to import high quality compost/soil. we can help source good quality plants, fruit/nut/material-producing trees, shrubs and other vegetation, as well as materials for trellises or other builds we might do (if you don't have a composter yet, you bet you are going to get one). if need an expert to come in for projects such as earthen/cob-building, chicken coops (shhhhh!), large scale water catchment and what-not, we will work this out as well.
3. set a date for the blitz and begin putting out the word. i can help you design flyers for putting up in your local community gathering places -to increase the community net- or to let your friends and neighbours know.
4. it is strongly encouraged that you participate in three blitzes beforehand or commit to attending at least three blitzes in the future, should you want a blitz at your place. this will further enhance your knowledge, foster reciprocity and community.
5. on the day of: we always encourage participants to bring some food to share but the host should have enough food to feed the hard-working bodies that come to help. it is also nice to start the day off with coffee/tea and snacks as we give the group the run-down of what projects will be happening and how and break up into groups if necessary.
please bring work gloves, water bottles, sunscreen/protection and if you can, some food to share. whether you are a total beginner, or skilled permaculturalist, we welcome any knowledge you may have to contribute and time you can spend. please ask for references, if you would like them. its always nice if someone brings an instrument to keep us in pace... ;)
please encourage your friends and neighbours to join as participants or hosts!!
some other notes:
- i have a few designers who are part of my 'permaculture design guild' and would always, always welcome more for helping in blitzes or other paid gigs that might come up. please let me know if you are interested, have a PDC (permaculture design certificate) or equivalent.
- many people have expressed concern that permablitzes take away from those who are trying to make a living off of permaculture. i also do permaculture design as a source of income through terroir land design. although blitzing may reduce some of the contracts we might get, i think it is of great importance to ensure that permaculture design and skills are available to those who do not have the disposable income to pay for these services. many people do not feel comfortable with groups of strangers working so intimately on their properties, nor the time to spend sourcing materials and making food for the workers. if this is your case, please contact me through terroir, or i can put you in contact with other local designers who will best suit your needs. the permablitz is an option for people who cannot afford professional gardeners, and it is based on a community barter system, where hosts are expected to help in other blitzes. the permablitz also gives strength and promotion to the movement and builds for more work in the future. finally, the community building aspect of permaculture, my desire to move away from a monetary-based system of exchange and the awesome people i have met in my brief work facilitating blitzes has only strengthened my resolve that this is a powerful and positive force that ought be encouraged. yet, if you really want to pay us designers or participants.., its not what we are blitzing for but we might not refuse ;)
3. the sky is the limit, any space can be accommodated, we welcome all cultural variations on the theme and please contact me if you would like to get on the mailing list to participate or host!
njakubek (at) gmail (dot) com
Our EETE group has been doing 'blitzes' of some sort. The food group grew food in 4 gardens last year. This year another garden will be added. Last year, members got together to rototill the largest of the gardens, which is a shared gardening plot, wheelbarrowed fresh soil in, and tended the garden together. This coming Good Friday, we're getting a delivery of moo-poo (or sheep-poo) manure and together we will haul it to the various gardens that need some. A 5th garden will be started and planted this year too.
Aside from gardening 'blitzes', we also help each other out for gardening-related work (e.g. separating out seeds from last year's crops, making space for this season's seedlings) that can be achieved very quickly with several pairs of hands.
As you mentioned in your blog, there can be a barrier in terms of inviting complete strangers into your garden and by extension your home. Personally, I wouldn't be comfortable with that. For me - if I were to advertise a permablitz on my property - I wouldn't advertise with flyers in my neighbourhood but would limit advertising to our TTo website. Then it would be somewhat contained within our 200+ members. (Although I don't know most of them either but this would be a nice way to get to know other members of one's group/association.)
Either way, I like the concept and hope some members will take you up on your offer to help organise a permablitz!
thank you so much for your responses martina!
i really hope we can mobilize similar activities out here in the west end.
i know that flyers can be somewhat delicate issue but they were very successful for a blitz that we held at a public meeting place (the tranzac) for getting some of the pub goers and locals to come out and help.
each blitz is organized on a case by case basis according to the hosts needs. i can attest that the members of my blitz mailing list are all wonderful folks and i would do anything for them, being so pleasantly surprised by the quality of people who are interested in such endeavors. i only have about 30 ppl on the mailing list from last year and the greatest turn out we had was around 15 ppl so far. each person has introduced themselves to me via a small online survey form and the addresses for blitz locations are not given unless a personal rsvp has been made. addresses are not posted publicly online - save the one we did at the tranzac early last year...
its been a great learning process!
i would really love to extend my services in permaculture consulting to the eete - or any transitioners for that matter - if you will be setting up more gardens... im not sure what ur soil was like before but the idea of rototilling makes me cringe a bit! lol
ill post a design i am working on right now for a cafe. the design is meant to be as low maintenance as possible, for a high traffic public space. all of the plants fulfil vital roles in replenishing the soil with different nutrients, attracting beneficial insects, edibles for the cafe's patrons and staff, herbals/teas, and cut flowers for the cafe. this soil will never be dug again (hopefully).