Eat

“Country” Living

The more space a person has the more complex their systems become.

Story by Olivia O’Neil - olivia.rebekah@gmail.com Photos by Photo © Muge Karamanci
Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

When I first moved to the city I lived for about two weeks in a constant state of sticker shock. I wanted to buy a small container of strawberries for a salad and all of a sudden I am spending almost eight dollars. So a few weeks ago, I went to a permaculture meeting. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself in to and it turned out to be a less than fruitful experience. Going into it I only knew the first paragraph or a Wikipedia page worth of information.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Of course on the day of the meet-up, the sky decided to open up and drop an ocean of water on the city. When I arrived at what turned out to be a meeting of housewives, hippy children, and homeless people in the basement of a library, the stench of wet human was overwhelming. After sitting through the hour and a half long lecture/tutorial and note taking, I came away with a name, Britta Riley, and a box of mushrooms that have yet to grow. I went home, Googled her and watched her TED Talk. That is when I started to really understand what the hell permaculture had to do with living in the city.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Permaculture is essentially extremely efficient gardening, it makes the most of the space and it reinvests surpluses back into the system. The system can be acres big or a small window farm in an apartment. The window farm is a more practical option for us city dwellers. A window farm does not use any soil and you don’t have to remember to water it or worry that you have over watered it, which is something I always do. It consists of about three plants, whatever kind, suspended above one another. Water cycles through the system first going to the plant on top and making its way by trickling down to the bottom plant, then it is used again. There is a pump that brings the water to the top and the nutrients solution needs to be changed about once a week. If you are a fan of up-cycling then you can make a window farm out of old water bottles, which is apparently what many people do.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

For a person living in New York in a one-bedroom apartment this can be very appealing. A window farm yields about one salad a week. However, what I have seen is that once a person gets started with just one window farm the bug takes over. Soon their windows are filled with several sets of three water bottles suspended in vertical lines with plants spilling out the sides, coveting all the sunlight. After that they move on to putting grow lights in their living room.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The more space a person has the more complex their systems become. Once you have more space, you might actually grow things in the ground, and you might want to grow things other than just food. Permaculture isn’t just about food, it is meant to promote a regenerative relationship between people and the natural world. There needs to be a give and take on both sides of the relationship. But for now, I think I’ll start small… Let’s see if I can get these boxed mushrooms to grow.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

3 Responses to ““Country” Living”

  1. Garry Meyers says:

    An unexpected, informative dimension added to city living clearly written. Provocative photos.

  2. Nancy Briesemeister says:

    Necessity is definitely the “mother of invention”. If I had known about the
    bottle system, I might have saved a bundle on window boxes.