Philosophy of the SSPP Part 4: Getting Involved

Welcome back. Over the last three weeks we have explored the basics of permaculture, social fragmentation and power dynamics in the context of industrialism, and societal energetics and contradictions.

Part 1: Introduction to Permaculture and the SSPP

Part 2: Social Fragmentation, Power Dynamics, and Cooperation vs Competition

Part 3: Human/Nature Dualism, Contradictions, and the Thermodynamics of Civilization

Part 4: Future Projects, Workshops, and Ways to Get Involved (8/15)

Now that you understand a bit more about what the Southside Permaculture Park is all about, its time to get involved.

While there are countless things that could be done, today we’ll look at four in particular: events in the Park, the community board, home-scale permaculture, and foraging/guerrilla gardening.

Events in the Park

On Thursday, October 17th we will be hosting tours of the Park that will familiarize you with the plants that are growing in the park, how to build and plant an Herb Spiral, and explore the topics that we have discussed in this series over the last four weeks. The event will begin at 16:00 (4pm) and run until about 17:30 (5:30pm). All are welcome.

We are also looking to host a neighborhood potluck in the park before it gets too cold, so be on the lookout for that. If you are interested in that, fill out this form so we can see when everyone is available.

Community Board

We want this project to be developed by the people who live here for the people who live here. If you live in the area, you may have met one of us at your front door with our Community Consensus form, but we want more than just a one-time input, we want direct community control. That’s why we are creating a Community Board; a group of people who live in the neighborhood around the park that can help us understand what needs and resources the community has, how we can best utilize those resources to meet those needs, and what other resources we should be asking Lehigh University for. If you are interested in being on the Community Board, shoot us an email at southsidepermaculturepark@gmail.com

Home-Scale Permaculture

If you are interested in producing fresh, healthy food at home while cleaning the air and sequestering atmospheric carbon, there are plenty of resources to get you started. The book Gaia’s Garden by Tobi Hemenway is a great one. You can also check out our guild highlight and plant profiles to get some ideas of what to plant and how to group things to make the most beneficial connections, and look back over the permaculture principles. The most important thing is to just get started and remember to Observe & Interact. Permaculture is an iterative process that requires small and slow solutions, so be patient and creative and you are sure to succeed.

Even if you have no green lawn space at your home, you can plant polycultures in a pot (like tomatoes with climbing beans for nitrogen and garlic to deter the squirrels from burring nuts) or experiment with things like indoor mushroom cultivation on coffee grounds and food waste, algae pools like spirulina, worm composting, or whatever creative new thing you can come up with!

If you are have read one of our profiles and would like to try growing that plant at home but need seeds or root fragments, or if you would like some advice on how to start practicing permaculture in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to us; we’d be happy to help in any way we can.

Foraging / Guerrilla Gardening

This land contains a diverse symphony of life with which we can live in harmony. Despite the damage that our industrial culture has inflicted with the clearing of forests, industrial agriculture, and our paving of roads and parking lots, this land still produces abundance in the absence of human labor. Foraging is one way to connect with these bountiful and beautiful ecosystems and supplement our industrial diet with local, healthy food.

One of the most abundant forage-able foods available this time of year is the Black Walnut. High in fat and protein, it stores well an makes an excellent winter food source. In addition to the black walnut, there are other nuts like butternuts and hickories. Even acorns are edible and nutritious if soaked first to remove the bitter tannins!

Honey Locust is another abundant food source, as the seed pods contain a sweet goo (hence the name honey) and edible seeds rich in protein that can be roasted and ground into a coffee substitute.

Mulberries and raspberries are all over the sides of roads and up on the mountain from June through August, and make great pastries and jams and can be canned or frozen for the winter.

Greens like dandelion, chicory, violets, chickweed, and henbit come out at various time throughout the growing season and offer nutritious supplements for soups, salads, and other dishes. Many of these greens grow by the sides of roads where they can accumulate dangerous levels of toxic runoff from the cars we drive, so be sure to only forage from areas free of harmful automobile pollution. Also be sure that areas are not sprayed with cancer-causing pesticides like Roundup.

Edible mushrooms like morels, chanterelles, chicken of the woods, maitake, oysters, puffballs, and more can be found all over the mountain. Although most mushrooms have a relatively short season, they overlap so that you can find edible mushrooms throughout the year! While many mushrooms are safe, delicious, and even offer incredible health benefits, there are also a few mushrooms that can kill you, so never eat any mushroom unless you have positively identified it.

While foraging is a great way to reconnect with the ecosystem and supply some food, we cannot support this massive human population on foraging alone. That’s where guerrilla gardening comes in. It is essentially sowing seeds or spreading spores in public places (or unmanaged private places) so that food can be available to others. In the event of an agricultural collapse, guerrilla gardening could be what keeps people in cities alive.

Hopefully this gives you the motivation to go out and get started. We encourage you to try planting things in your yard if you have one or in pots in a window if you don’t. Try going foraging outside and see if you can identify any edible plants or mushrooms. Take some seeds and sow them along a sidewalk or in a lawn somewhere.

Together we can build a better world.