Edible Backyard Blitz

This past May, Broken Ground partnered with Blunderbuss for an Edible Backyard Blitz – an afternoon makeover of a yard into an ecological and edible garden.

I first heard the term backyard blitz or permablitz when I visited Australia back in 2006. I had traveled to that part of the world, first to take a Permaculture Design Course in New Zealand, and then to work on organic and permaculture farms both in New Zealand and Australia. On that trip, I met Dan Palmer. At the time, Dan hadn’t yet founded his company, Very Edible Gardens, in Melbourne, but he had co-founded the permablitz movement.

Permablitz is a contraction of the words permaculture and blitz.  According to the Permablitz Melbourne website, it typically involves a day in which a group of people come together to “create or add to edible gardens, share skills related to permaculture and sustainable living, build community, and have fun.”  Since then, the permablitz movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, transforming lawns into edible ecosystems, one yard at a time.

Together with Blunderbuss, we decided to host our own version of a blitz here in Bozeman. Blunderbuss is a house dedicated to creating a work environment for artists, makers, entrepreneurs, activists, and project-goers. Adding more perennial food into their backyard, which already had a couple of raised beds, seemed like a natural next step in this experiment in community living.

Over the course of the morning, I gave a brief lecture about permaculture and the concept of ecological gardens and then we got to work transforming the yard. We planted a plum tree, a currant and gooseberry shrub, honeyberries, and installed another annual bed for squash to be trellised up along the fence. The ‘herb layer’ of the mini food forest was planted later and will continue to be built out next Spring.

So check out the short video along with the photos to get a sense of the day and the steps involved in creating an edible ecosystem. Thanks to Tate Chamberlin from Blunderbuss for hosting the event, Ben Johnson for taking photos and Jusup Sandoval for the great video! Special thanks to all of those who participated!

We started the day with a brief talk about permaculture and the way to build an edible ecosystem.
We then set to work on the transformation! Most backyard makeover involve removing a lot of grass. Instead of busting sod, you can build garden beds on top of the grass, using a lot of cardboard to suppress the grass. The cardboard eventually breaks down and you’re left with a continuous soil profile.
You need a lot of material! Cardboard, mulch, soil, compost and manure.
Cutting the edge of what will be the new bed.
Woody perennials, like fruit trees and berry bushes, should be planted first before sheet mulching around them.
The group! Thanks to everyone who helped out!

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