This ongoing project is transforming a bland Minneapolis backyard—turf grass and a large metal shed—into an urban foodscape utilizing permaculture principles. In the first phase, we captured water on-site by installing a rain barrel and gutters on the garage to direct water into the veggie garden. Backyard chickens were introduced to provide fresh eggs and abundant nutrients as fertilizer, keeping the garden very productive without bringing in outside fertilizers.
In designing the space, we planned with the human use of the space in mind. We placed what would need the most tending within the daily path of the client, making it easy to snip herbs for dinner right outside the back door, feed the chickens, and drop compost in the bin on the way to work. The plantings include guilds of annuals, re-seeding annuals, perennial edibles and companion plantings, along with edible species for food production. Utilizing this planting style and permaculture principles in this backyard system, both the client and nature have creative input in the garden each season. The client chooses and plants annuals to satisfy aesthetics and supply vegetables while nature plays a role when annual plants re-seed, so the plant communities shift dynamically every year.
In subsequent phases of this project, the traditional turf has been removed from the entire property. Instead, there is now a dedicated zone for annual and perennial edible plants including eight fruit trees, a small fruit bramble, a strawberry patch, a group of blueberries, and native edible and medicinal plants such as ramps, woodland strawberries, echinacea. Native understory plants provide low-maintenance beauty as well as a home and food sources for the pollinators, which ensures pollination of the fruit trees every spring.