Living in a busy urban neighborhood packed with houses, condos, stores and cars, Baba John doesn’t always have rolling acres of butterfly-bedecked farmland on which to grow an abundance of food. But a small stone patio for a yard hasn’t stopped him from fulfilling his garden fantasy. He has used creative solutions to maximize his growing space, and he is eager to help others do the same.
John is a certified permaculture designer who has applied sustainable agriculture and organic gardening principles to properties around the U.S. and Guatemala. You could be growing all the herbs you need, it is just a matter of working with the elements of earth and water (which we are usually wasting).
“We don’t have to think of gardens in a traditional way. If you think you don’t have space to grow a garden – whether you live in an apartment or your yard is already landscaped with ornamentals – there are still ways to create more than most people would imagine,” -Baba John
How has he expanded his ability to create a healthy harvest? At home, he utilizes all available sunny spaces, growing squash, corn and beans in giant pots on his front doorstep along with tomato pots on the back porch. Additionally, he uses aquaponics (an automated self-watering grow system that allows much higher harvest rates than soil) on his back patio to grow a variety of plants including strawberries, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and herbs, among others. This spring he will be working on his vertical gardens – grapevines and passion fruit vines trained up patio walls and hanging gardens in window sills (he recently moved and had to leave vertical gardens behind).
This past year, he was able to greatly increase his workspace when he got permission to grow plants from the building owner from whom he rents his office. He didn’t just plant seeds on this land, either. He used permaculture (sustainable agriculture) practices to increase the soil’s capacity to retain water, making gardening easier and more efficient by utilizing rain water. Every day when he leaves work, he picks kale for dinner. The fig trees planted last year produced abundant fruit this year. He expects the blueberry bushes to produce a nice harvest this year.
“We choose sustainable gardening options because that’s best for the environment, but to help you sustain your gardening habit we put systems into place that makes it as low maintenance and easy as possible. We like autonomous systems that do the work for you, as much as possible.”
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