Posted 23 May 2011, by Sami Grover, Carrboro, TreeHugger.com, treehugger.com
Whether it’s a community redoing their neighbors’ yard in London, or a “permablitz” permaculture makeover in Australia, we’ve seen plenty of team-based efforts to overhaul backyards into productive, sustainable spaces. But are such efforts confined to the leafy backyards of that much maligned, if hard to define, liberal green elite? One outfit in Oakland, California is setting out to prove that permaculture can and should be accessible to everybody, regardless of background or social status. And they are reworking a whole bunch of backyards in the process.
Using a community organizing model, Planting Justice is explicitly dedicated to combating social exclusion and economic justice issues, as well as the typical permaculture concerns of sustainable food production and biodiversity. Channeling funds from paid garden work into makeovers for low income families, the organization is also committed to employing youth of color, the formerly incarcerated, and other disenfranchised urban residents. They’ve planted over 90 gardens in two years, and they don’t show any signs of stopping:
Whereas edible landscaping and Permaculture have thus far been available only to those who can pay a premium for it, our organizational model enables us to empower economically disadvantaged communities to transform empty lots, paved backyards, and grass lawns into productive organic gardens that serve as living classrooms for community members to practice Urban Permaculture and bio-intensive gardening techniques.