Applying permaculture to an urban setting often includes building community and getting the word out. In an effort to keep useful waste products out of landfills, I’ve let certain neighbors know I’ll take things like leaves, woodchips, veggie waste, egg shells and cardboard off their hands. They are only too happy to oblige and I often find “offerings” from neighbors left inside my gate.
It’s heartening to see these offerings because I know I can apply them directly to the third of the permaculture ethics, which is to “return the surplus” to the first two ethics; earth care (restoring living ecosystems) and people care (supplying our needs in a sustainable way). In this way we cycle useful “waste” products back into the system and end up in a more abundant world. Just today I received two such offerings.
Janie, who lives across the street and works at Chow Locally – a local CSA, left me a box of “good produce” - still edible for humans and a bag of “hen produce” – leftovers that had spoiled spots, peelings, etc.
The hens look forward to these weekly deliveries of “hen produce” as it provides them with a change from their typical fare and whatever I happen to be giving them. I also received a small paper bag of crushed eggshells from Rosé over on the next block. These go back to the girls, too, to provide for their calcium needs. I try to gift these neighbors back with surplus produce or eggs when I have some.
Sometimes there’s surplus useful waste that’s a little larger than usual! Donna, of the “Collaborative Urban Swale” fame, had the tree trimmers come to her house last week and they had a full load of chips to dump from previous jobs. Donna took some to mulch the swale with and I took the rest – my infiltration basins and propagation area floor could use some refreshing.
I’m pretty pleased that I could not only keep these “waste” products out of the landfill, but use them to grow food, eggs and harvest water. And I get to share my love of quilting!