Building Community Interrelationships

seraphima(z4 AK)November 11, 2002

One of the goals of Permaculture planning is to foster and strengthen small community ties and interrelationships.

Recently, a new family moved into our neighborhood, with- a horse! I took some Wilau chives (good for indoor growing) over and introduced myself. Turns out the wife doesn't garden and wants to get rid of her horsemanure. Perfect.

So far, we have hauled about 15 bushels of manure on our dolly (handtruck) and applied it to sheet mulched garden areas.

A few days ago my neighbor contacted me and said that the chives are doing so well that she wondered if I might have any other plants she could try? We brought over several more herb plants and a houseplant. She was pleased, and wanted to know their names and how to use them.

Saturday we ran into each other at a craft fair and got to talking. I suggested that during the winter when it is too icy for me to haul the manure, she might deposit it in selected areas. In spring I will start some black currant bushes, and plant some rhubarb, chives, and other easy to grow plants which need no care. She is pleased with this idea.

Hopefully, over time she will catch a little of the gardening bug, and will have some food producing plants in her yard. I will get a lot of horse manure in easy fashion.

This is a very simple community interaction, but it is a start.

What kinds of things have you done to connect with your neighbors and start roots for sustainable community and plant culture?

Thanks, Donna

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
polly_il(z5/6 IL)

I've lived around most of my neighbors for my whole life, almost; but we don't "connect" all that much other than waving while passing each other on the road. My husband does do some work in his shop for some folks; and I haul horse manure from some nearby places. They are mostly very superficial relationships, however; and I prefer that, since I don't have nearly enough time to do all the things I want to do anyway without adding in the time to create new relationships.

Oh, we swap out work and equipment with neighbor Mike - his backhoe for our bush hog, our berry planter and harvesting trays for picking us up some straw at the sale barn, my home grown tomato plants for his unused hog panels. And Pop will plow out the neighbor's lanes when he's got the tractor out plowing ours; we sent home strawberry plants that were going to get tilled out anyway with some folks who stopped by to pick so they could start their own bed; and I swapped berries for zinnia seed, garden produce and fish - are those the kinds of things you're talking about?

Pop and Uncle Ivan and I spend (waste!) lots of time over coffee in the colder months, arguing about this or that related to the farm and garden; sometimes neighbor Mike stops by and joins in. Then, Mike goes to the elevator, Pop goes in for the Old Fart's Coffee hour, and Unc goes up to the sale barn and they hash it out with the folks in those places. Ideas get passed around, argued about, shot down and resurrected - I learned a lot about crop rotation and what works around here when Mike (who ran a local elevator during harvest) mentioned it to one of the older farmers - who'd been farming in this area for over 70 years. Huh, guess maybe we DO have some interrelationships, after all!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2002 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have good relationships with several neighbors. The newest moved in to the acreage next to us and we have given them several plants (xeric landscape stuff mostly) this year. They have given us things too, apples from a special orchard (they sell out fast), a trailer full of scrap hardwood for the woodstove (since one works at a cabinetmakers shop) and the like. Next year I may bring them some raspberries and other good stuff that actually produces stuff. There are lots of trades on the valley and not all trades of things ... some is helping with chores that require 2 people. I could picture a barn rasing if someone were building a barn.

Lee AKA Fireraven9
Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. Nature RWE

    Bookmark   November 12, 2002 at 9:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
seraphima(z4 AK)

A lot of folks think Permaculture applies primarily to plant communities and interrelationships- nitrogen fixers contributing nitrogen the soil, bee plants attracting pollinators, herbs repelling insects, etc.

Permaculture is, however, also about human interactions with the environment, plants, animals and people.

In the same way you have growing zones around your home, you may also have cultural and economic zones around your home. How far away do you work, or how far do you ship produce and farm products?

Work reduction by intelligent planning and siting applies to our lives, also. Building a farm stand near the truck garden is an example. Selling to neighbors and nearby stores saves fuel and time and keeps money in the community.

Thanks, you two for your very good examples.

I know that some people have formed intentional communities to exemplify permaculture principles, but I suspect most of us just live in a neighborhood, and are looking at how to connect in where we are. This seems to be one of the most undiscussed aspects of Permaculture design.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2002 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
polly_il(z5/6 IL)

Hey Donna! I've been thinking about this a lot. I think that we probably do a lot of things/interactions without even thinking about them; especially if we've been interested in Permaculture or some of the other interelated ideas.

I was out doing some holiday shopping the other day; and picked up a couple of copies of Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax" for the two little three year old girls on my list. It's one of my favorite books to give to children (along with Fox in Socks!) because of it's important messages about being greedy and taking more than you need etc.. Maybe it will plant a seed in the minds of the folks that are reading it to them, as well.

I think that I probably cause more "ripples in the pond" than I know; since I always have my snout stuck in a book or magazine on all my breaks at work, or in waiting rooms, etc... I've often had folks ask me about the things that I'm reading. When the town folks drive by our garden to look; we talk about composting and heirloom seeds and things, so that is reaching more folks. The relationship with the people may be fairly superficial; but the ideas are being passed on.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 10:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our strongest community relationships developed from a shared love of gardening. We exchange plants with neighbors or just give away extra plants and things that don't grow well in our yards. We share tools with some of our neighbors. There are open invitations to come over when the cherries are ripening and the invitation is returned when the neighbors raspberries are ripening. Next year we will do more planning such as plant a neighbors rosemary at our place since we get more sun than they do.

I think nurturing human interrelationships helps build a more diverse plant & insect community.

The following article offers some tips on community building.

Here is a link that might be useful: communities

    Bookmark   December 19, 2002 at 7:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dswan(z6 UT)

I think the social interactions are not only important but imperative where I live. My yard does not look like everyone else's and I have to explain what I'm trying to accomplish, which is providing habitat for pollinators, birds, etc.

When tomatoes and other veggies are ripe, I share them with the neighbors. If I am guilty of one thing, is that I don't share enough. I do grow xeric perennials and give some away to neighbors.

Luckily for me, in the Mormon community I live in, there is a history of preaching self-sufficiency and food storage that drives many to have home gardens.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2003 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
DDFirstLight(Honduras & TX)

Having grown up way out in the boonies I could never understand how people did not know their neighbors, then I moved to the city and also did not know my neighbors and most did not seem to feel inclined to either! LOL With time I came to see that I also did the same thing. One day it hit me why, when we live with people jammed in on all sides for miles and frequently even above and below us we expend a great deal of energy actively ignoring all those people! There are just too many to deal with it seems. Then the only time we do 'notice' them is when they are in our way to do something. Think about it, waiting in lines, driving in close traffic etc. It has to do something to us that, in the city, when we notice people most often it is when they are 'in my way'. Heck out in the country it is an event to see people, "Hey-Wow, it's got 2 legs and Talks!!!"

After seing this I began to understand what was happening to me, and also to understand and to walk lightly with my neighbors there for they too were living that way. Community is a wonderful concept and a very valuable one to me. What I had to do to have community was to decide my priorities and give up a higher paying job and move to a sparcer peopled area where that community I craved would not only be possible but also would not infringe upon the neighbors I sought to be of value to. I traveled alot and found that in the 'industrialized' nations the above scenario seemed to hold true, but in the 'third-world' countries it did not, for even in the all but largest cities there, community was a basic truism. With time I have found it appropriate to live much of my time in Honduras where community is not a concept that has to be explained, but a constant that is lived. Even in the city of about 40-60K where my home is, there is a strong base of community.

Building Community Relationships is vital, but so is respecting the privacy wishes of those same neighbors. Sometimes it is me that has to change what I want or where I live etc. instead of demanding that others change to fit my preferences. All you here who have spoken in this thread seem to have that solid base of respecting your neighbors and not infringing on them, yet holding out a helping hand where you can. I do believe that that is the core of 'Community' and you will achieve the full measure of community possible in the area where you live when that is how you live. Here in the US many of the laws now in place and liability issues intrinsic in those laws, the huge amount of time so many have to be away from their homes each day communting etc. make a fully active interrelationship of a community very difficult, if not impossible or unwise, in some cases.

Thank you for this opportunity to share with you, it is a great joy for this old lady to dream back in time and place.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2003 at 8:51AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Looking for advice when it comes to pursuing permaculture
Hi my name is Andrew. I graduated a few years ago with...
Wild Grapes with Black Rot
So, on the margin of my back yard I have some wild,...
grant for permaculture enterprises app due Jan 14, 2015
As you may know, for the last year, our company TGI...
suburban yard - several species in small area
in this pic in my backyard i have papaya, passionflower,...
Urban permaculture home for sale - Portland, OR
Have worked to make the yard around our beautiful home...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™