Design and management of an urban
agriculture rests on organic practices and application of
permaculture principles. Organic
production systems are inherently healthy, based on ecosystem nutrient
recycling, composting, enlightened tillage, and avoidance of petro-chemical
inputs. Permaculture is a design
philosophy that builds energy efficiency, wise resource use and both personal
and community awareness into sustainable, long-term land management systems.
Organic urban agriculture speaks directly to living more sustainably by helping to:
distributing food from local sources
Traditional mixed-use farms have always been managed, in one manner or another, as production ecosystems. Viewed as an ‘ecosystem’, known inputs (solar energy, water, nutrients, minerals, fuel, equipment, soil amendments, seed, animals, etc.) and outputs (grain, forage, hay and straw, vegetables, fruits, nuts, animals that provide eggs, milk and meat - and manure with spent bedding) are balanced through processes of recycling nutrients back to the land. Producers (plants) and consumers (animals and people) ultimately rely on decomposers (bacteria, algae, fungi, actinomycetes and micro- and macro-invertebrates) in the soil. What is crucial in organic systems are healthy biological processes and recycling of water and nutrients that are managed in a stable and balanced production ecosystem.
of petro-chemical inputs over the last 80 years or so, in form of synthetic
pesticides and herbicides, hormone enhancers, and antibiotics, etc., resulted
in astounding gains in quantity of production and control of pestilence, but
often at the expense of widespread environmental degradation of soils, water,
air and some production quality. Today,
biotechnology represents a further challenge that results in a bewildering
array of environmental, social, moral, ethical and economic concerns.
Contemporary organic agriculture in rural areas and organic urban agriculture is not a return to old-fashioned farming methods, but is farming based on ecological principles. This involves not only avoiding use of petrochemical-based and questionable biotechnological inputs that can degrade water and soil, disrupt ecosystem dynamics, and contaminate gene pools, but also building healthy relationships between trophic levels using proven organic techniques and applied ecological principles. Sustainable agriculture recognizes that ‘everything is connected to everything else’, that ecosystem diversity controls pests and disease, and that nutrient recycling and composting is fundamentally necessary for ecosystem health and optimum soil fertility. Crop rotations play a central role in controlling pests and disease and optimizing soil fertility, water is carefully managed, and proper tillage and cultivation based on both technique and timing are fundamentally important in managing the farm production ecosystem. The laws of biology and principles of ecology on the farm, or anywhere, do not change but our understanding and application of them continues to evolve. Organic agriculture begins with the management of healthy, productive, biologically-active soils and the conservation of soil resources.
following is an excerpt from Black Creek Urban Agriculture Project Operational and Economic Feasibility, June, 2004.
Organic operations recognize that:
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C. Brad Peterson Environmental Management and Landscape Architecture often encourage
clients to consider the value of organic production systems.
Brad Peterson designed the first permaculture farm plan in Ontario, the
O’Sullivan Farm Plan near Arthur, ON, in 1988.
Since then Brad has worked on many projects where organic production and
permaculture principles are expressed either very explicitly, or form a quiet
but important supporting function to the project.
See the Sustainable
Landscapes and Conservation Development and Property Environmental
Management and Land Stewardship headings under the Projects
page for projects based in Permaculture design.