Educational Permaculture Garden: Design and Manual for Soil Health in Urban Areas

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Rachel Warm-Deutsch
Justin Sikkema
Leslie Hacker
Sofia DiFrancesco
Sydney Mcmillan
Logan Pastura
Teri Jacobs


By Rachel Warm-Deutsch, Environmental Studies ; Justin Sikkema, Environmental Studies; Leslie Hacker, Environmental Studies; Sofia DiFrancesco, Environmental Studies; Sydney Mcmillan, Environmental Studies; Logan Pastura, Environmental Studies

Advisor: Teri Jacobs

Presentation ID: 260

Abstract: The importance of soil health receives little to no attention in urban communities, especially in poor neighborhoods lacking access to fresh nutritious food. Yet, high quality soil yields high-quality foods, and improving degraded or contaminated soils in vacant lots or existing community gardens can transform food deserts into food oases. To this purpose, we created a manual for an educational permaculture garden suitable for community-shared or individually-owned spaces. The manual achieves the following aims: (1) provides the foundational knowledge, generally lacking in urban communities, on soil health; (2) features gardening techniques grounded in permaculture principles for restoration and sustainable management of soil health; (3) develops a framework for community engagement, education, outreach, and self-reliance; and (4) enhances ecological awareness in urban landscapes. Interviews with local professionals and reviews of the literature informed the manual's guidelines for garden design and educational activities. An existing community garden in Lower Price Hill served as the case study due to its lead-contaminated soils and underutilized space for community benefit. Using the manual, we created an example of a garden design and suggested educational approaches specific to the site. The educational permaculture garden manual lays the groundwork for best practices for soil health in urban areas and community education and builds in the next steps for engagement, expansion, and maintenance.

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Category: The Natural World