Nelson Cohousing envisions a community that lives and works in harmony and reciprocity within the natural environment that it calls home.  We understand that the health and vitality of the individual, community, and the land are one and the same.  To work towards this we will engage a permacultural perspective in planning the site development, gardens, landscaping, and common areas.  This will also take into consideration appropriate technology in regards to the community’s waste (grey water, compost, effluent), and the creation of safe, effective nutrient return to the land. We will use the key concepts of permaculture to inform and aid our growth so that the foundational relationship of this community within its ecosystem is abundant and life sustaining for generations to come.

Agricultural Vision

Within the overall design of the community agriculture will be a key component, helping to “grow” the relationships between the residents, as we learn how to provide our own food.  Participating in the orchards, large common gardens and animal husbandry is not mandatory, but highly encouraged.  Residents are also encouraged to establish small private gardens by their residences if they choose.

We envision fruit and nut trees, large common gardens producing enough vegetables to store for the winter  (either in root cellars, or processed by freezing, drying and canning), mushrooms, herbs for culinary and medicinal uses, bees for pollination and honey, chickens for eggs and meat, and eventually sheep or goats for dairy and potentially meat.

Permaculture – Key Concepts

Permaculture Defined
Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how to build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.

Food Forests
Food Forests mimic the architecture and beneficial relationships between plants and animals found in a natural forest or other natural ecosystems. Food forests are not natural, but are designed and managed ecosystems (typically complex perennial polyculture plantings) that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity.

Poultry and Backyard Animals
Animals (including birds and wildlife) are a critical component of any sustainable system, as without their participation and contribution the ecological balance cannot be achieved. Everything gardens in permaculture, and animals are in the leadership position. Manure is needed for soil fertility. Foraging on fallen fruit, weeds, seeds and garden pests helps with keeping things healthy. Soil cultivation is frequently a benefit, especially when keeping chickens.

Rainwater Harvesting
In permaculture we strive to design buildings and landscapes to absorb rainwater. This is not only a good idea for dry climates, but is also very important in places with plentiful moisture. Why? Rainwater is best used when it is allowed to infiltrate the soil. There it is available to plants, it is cleansed and enters the groundwater or returns to the hydrological cycle. Rainwater harvesting is an alternative to designing our outdoor environments to get rid of water – where it rushes down hillsides, streets or roadways. This is how soil erosion begins and pollutants get washed into waterways. In some circles, there is a distinction between rainwater harvesting (meaning directing rainwater and runoff towards planted areas for infiltration); and rainwater catchment where water is actually captured from roofs or other hard surfaces and is stored in cisterns. The former is simpler and less costly, the latter allows you to have access to water during dry spells, but may be more expensive.

Designing for Multiple Functions
Many examples can be drawn to illustrate this principle, the one that reminds us to always capitalize on the investment of work and resources. Everything should serve multiple functions by design – road channels cooling winds towards a house; water tank casts its shade to create comfortable microclimate nearby; rain gutter drains towards a fruit tree.

Permaculture also includes:

Heirloom Species of Plants and Animals
Watershed Restoration
Natural Building
Waste Management

Found on the Permaculture Institute’s website:

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