Permaculture offers a radical approach to food production and urban renewal, water, energy, and pollution. It integrates ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture, and agro-forestry in creating a profitable and sustainable way of living. It uses appropriate technology to produce high yields for low energy inputs. This is a resource of great diversity and helps to create stability. The design principles are equally applicable to both urban and rural dwellers. These words of Bill Mollison (1928–2016), the Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher, and biologist, aptly describe the Living Permaculture project funded by the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme:
“Permaculture minimises external inputs and sets up closed systems – a sustainable approach for low-income communities. The methods adapted to local climatic conditions foster innovation using low-cost technologies such as micro-farms and composting systems.”
For economically marginalised individuals, permaculture can provide much-needed food security through activities like backyard gardening. However, in Kanyama and Kalikiliki (both in Lusaka, Zambia) people’s ability to generate food from backyard gardening is hampered by inadequate soil drainage. To address this challenge, the Living Permaculture project ran two workshops for the People's Process on Housing and Poverty for women from these neighbourhoods in December 2020. These workshops showed the participants how to establish gardens in sacks and flower pots so the inadequate drainage does not affect the crops.
The participants, who are all running households, were able to use the training to establish backyard gardens. Several participants reported the survival of their plants even after flooding, and reported an increase in production and sales following the training, which made a difference to their households.
Here’s what the participants had to say about the workshops:
- "I learnt how to plant and how to make the best kind of manure using household leftovers. I also learnt how to use household products like chilli as pesticides."
- "The most valuable lesson was how to make manure. I learnt that with what I have in my kitchen, I could maintain my garden."
- "Before the training, I could grow flowers all around my house, and now I realise that I could use my space to grow food."
- "I learnt that a sack garden could help me when I do not have money to buy food."
- "I learnt how to grow crops in my small space using sacks and flower pots."