evaluation

Fulfilling theĀ aims

A multi-functional greenhouse: the raised beds, pots and seedlings enabled the greenhouse to be used for different purposes at different times of year, in particular the pots and seedlings created space for many different plants as they cycled in and out of the greenhouse at different times of year

Year-round growing: the combination of different growing possibilities fulfilled this function, ie the raised bed ecosystem offered fertile ground for year-round growing, the pots enabled starting off plants early and taking them outside as did the seedlings

A dynamic ecosystem: the raised beds were essential to fulfilling this function and it was evident from the health of the plants that the raised beds produced the best plants as compared to the pots – the reason for this is probably a combination of less plant diversity in a smaller space, lesser soil fertility, difficulty in regulating water – improvements could be made by more plants in pots for beneficial insects

Soil and water results

soil: the pot soil (community compost, soil improver, liquid feeds of comfrey, nettles and seaweed) was insufficient for good growth of the summer veg in the greenhouse – improvements might be to use larger pots with fertility plants, the raised bed produced more heathly plants (community compost, soil improver, fertility plants) and will be topped up next spring with community compost and soil improver together with the continuous use of fertility plants

water: the funding for waterbutts was not available this year, so the water was partly rainwater collected in the one tub outside the greenhouse and the tap that supplies this tub, the raised bed mainted water well through the almost continuous plant cover of the soil, the technique of watering in the morning worked well so that there was very little mildew

Applying permaculture ethics and principles

The overall vision of creating a multi-functional greenhouse for community growing has at its foundation for success regenerative ecosystem design by applying permaculture ethics and principles.

ethics: earth care was achieved by using natural and local resources in renovating the structure of the greenhouse (eg using voluntary community labour, existing resources, recycled wood, community compost, organic soil and seeds) / people care was achieved by improving this community resource and integrating existing community member needs into the design / fair shares was achieved by designing for the community, minimising use of resources by reducing water needs, reusing materials, using local renewable resources such as reclaimed timber and community compost

principles: principles were applied to create a greenhouse ecosystem working with succession to adapt to community and plant needs throughout the year, creating flows of air, water, soil and plants, maintaining a dynamic balance and beneficial connections of diverse plants, creating systems within systems and connections and cycling between them on the level of different growing mediums and within growing mediums for diversity, resilience and fertility – as the greenhouse is an artificial environment, the role of the human being caring for this environment is greater in creating the conditions for a thriving and regenerative ecosystem which means more ‘work’, however the greenhouse also facilitates the work of the grower in offering a protected growing environment which lengthens the growing season and can be less subject to extreme weather, pests and disease