Permaculture thrives on the idea that all land has a purpose. Land and its potential should be wisely and carefully used for the benefit of all living things, and in such a way that provides present health and sustainability for future generations.
While our society is dealing with a health crisis caused by a lack of nutrition, the rise of toxins, financial disparities and various detrimental changes in our environment (to name a few), it is time we start using the land around us in ways that help humanity, while also helping the earth.
Danny, my husband, has been studying and applying permaculture design on a small, personal scale for about 2 years now. We have been working on our property in an urban setting in Milwaukee County and a 6 acre setting (my parents’ house) further outside of the city. We are now embarking on our VERY FIRST permaculture design for a property that is not “our own”.
The Waukesha Seventh-Day Adventist Church is navigating the possibilities its land could offer their church fellowship and the community at large. They are piloting a permaculture design philosophy for their church grounds, and needless to say, I am giddy about it! I believe permaculture is both financially lucrative and societally beneficial, and being that it follows the principles God has given, I find it especially suitable for church property. For YEARS the land surrounding the church has been a grassy lawn producing nothing but grass needing to be mowed. While the plans are not confirmed, the heart of this church and its openness to a new way of existing is beyond exciting to me!! This church will be using its property to heal the land, provide nutritious food to its church members all while engaging church members and community members in a space that allows them to garden, relax, and learn amidst nature, beauty, and health.
This is Danny’s FIRST full permaculture design and I plan to take you along for the ride!
Here are some of the ideas presented thus far….
- Access Road: Danny explained to me that it is of utmost importance to establish the clients’ main goals. One of the main goals of the church is an area that aids in the efficiency of church happenings. The church has a back door that is used frequently during fellowship meals and/or church festivities. Therefore, we plan to start the permaculture design by putting an access road from the back parking lot to the back door of the church.
2. Swales: In order to have a great piece of land with great abundance we need quality soil. An important aspect in gaining high quality soil is water. Therefore, we need to create a system of swales on the church property to hold water in specific places for better hydration.
Danny explained that the swales must be built in contour with the property. He finds these locations, using both the aerial map, and by walking until his center of gravity shifts from the toes to the ball of his foot.
3. Prayer Garden: On one side of the property, we plan to create a serene prayer garden. Here we will offer a place of visual beauty, pleasing walkways and quaint sitting areas where people can escape their typical scenes and spend time with God.
4. Outdoor ‘Theater’/ Meeting Place: We also plan to make a natural meeting space that would allow for outdoor worship, as well as community meetings pertaining to gardening, permaculture design and/or cooking classes.
5. Greenhouse: Here we will grow some plants throughout the colder months of the year. The greenhouse will also allow us to have various plants already potted, happy, and ready to be planted in the fellowship garden.
6. Community Garden: We plan to make 12×12 foot allotments where different people can garden in their own space. Community gardens are such a beautiful option for urban areas where people do not have their own space to garden. Not only does it give us a chance to connect with the miracle of growing our own food, but it allows us to connect as people, and make new friends. This article explains why community gardens are SUPER healthy for you :).
7. Fellowship Garden: This is probably my favorite concept. This would be a large chunk of land that the church ‘tends’ to. The church would finance the planting, and organize the care taking, but then reap the harvest for church potlucks and other church hosted festivities. Plus, if done correctly, the church could have an abundance of produce with which it could feed those who are in need. The Adventist church has always been a pioneer in health and has encouraged members to take care of their bodies and the earth by returning to an abundant plant-based diet. So a church that teaches about nutritious plant-based eating habits, works together to grow organic, quality food and then feeds the hungry?? Ohh be still my heart…I am so enthusiastic about the possibilities!!
Like I mentioned previously, nothing is concrete, but these are the ideas we have in mind so far! The church board has many decisions to make, and the plan will be officially presented very soon! Those who are following along with our adventure are welcome to leave comments and/or ask questions!