Re-imagining a grassy plot as a food forest

This week I’ve been working on another home food production design project to learn some skills for the future, and I’ve tried to re-imagine a place I’ve come to know very well and had a chance to observe over a long enough period of time. Knowledge of the site is a fundamental prerequisite and, to be honest, I had been imagining what this space could look like since before opening this blog. 

The plot is a grassy space surrounded mostly by tall trees like Fraxinus excelsior and Betula alba, which slopes towards a stream of water running along the south-west side. Yes, it is part of a city park, but I simply imagined natural forest to surround it, as if the Clyde Valley in Glasgow had never been urbanised, and the plot was given to me the way it looks to be re-designed.

My first concern was re-directing the great amount of rain water which falls on Scotland towards an area closer to the stream, and eventually in it, to avoid the water-logging I’ve observed affecting the site for part of the year. For this reason I have imagined a system of swales (marked as light blue lines) spiraling down towards a pond (4.), able to overflow towards the stream through a trench. I then decided where to place the structures based on orientation and access to the plot, and designed the house (1.), with a greenhouse (-a) and a roofed cooking deck (-d) on the left. On the right there are a shed (-b) and a vine-covered roof (-c) under which wood is kept. The area in front of the house, which benefits from a sheltered position and south-facing exposure, is devoted to raised beds, keyhole gardens and herb spirals (-e)

A few days ago I created a part house-greenhouse design which you can see here.

Close to the house, on the left, a living structure created weaving willow (2.) and pliable vines, possibly made watertight with thatching, is used for recreation, storage, or even as shelter for birds and other animals, while an actual chicken coop is placed next to it. Deep in our forest, away from the frequently visited areas, but also close to the center of the plot, I placed beehives (3.). 

The food forest (5.), mostly contained within the swales, is divided into a few sections by the extensive and intricate pathways, indicated with red lines. They are not necessary, but I love to walk and I would certainly incorporate them in my own design. In each section different guilds would be established: the upper part of section I, section II, III and IV would house lower-growing plants which require more attention and more frequent visits, while the lower portion of section I, V and VI would generally be visited for maintenance and harvested less often.

Surrounding the house and the food forest, X, Y and Z are areas where no alien species are introduced and human intervention is kept to a minimum. 

W indicates the stream delimiting the plot and, on the other side, more native forest shades the creek. 

There are so many more details that could be written, but now the question is, what would you add, or remove? How would you improve this design? 

Photos from Google Maps, Design and editing by me

Sky Burial.

Sky burial (Tibetan: Wylie: bya gtor, lit. “bird-scattered) is a funeral practice in which a human corpse is placed on a mountaintop to decompose while exposing to the elements or to be eaten by scavenging animals, especially birds of prey. It is a specific type of the general practice of excarnation. It is practiced in the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia, and in Mongolia proper. The locations of preparation and sky burial are understood in the Vajrayana Buddhist traditions as charnel grounds. Comparable practices are part of Zoroastrian burial practices where deceased are exposed to the elements and birds of prey on stone structures called Dakhma. Few such places remain operational today due to religious marginalisation, urbanisation and the decimation of vulture populations.

The majority of Tibetan people and many Mongols adhere to Vajrayana Buddhism, which teaches the transmigration of spirits. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it or nature may cause it to decompose. The function of the sky burial is simply to dispose of the remains in as generous a way as possible (the source of the practice’s Tibetan name). In much of Tibet and Qinghai, the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and, due to the scarcity of fuel and timber, sky burials were typically more practical than the traditional Buddhist practice of cremation. In the past, cremation was limited to high lamas and some other dignitaries, but modern technology and difficulties with sky burial have led to its increasing use by commoners.

Pokemon Regions
  • Kanto: One of the more urbanised regions, modern and technological-focused.
  • Johto: Kanto's more cultural-centric twin, relaxed and laid back.
  • Hoenn: The adventurous and nature-savvy region, known for its warmth and space research.
  • Sinnoh: The northern region with a colder climate. A large mythical lore and home to one of the toughest Leagues...ever.
  • Unova: One of the largest and most diverse region faraway. Bustling but very sophisticated.
  • Kalos: Another faraway region known as one of the world's cultural, fashion and food capitals.
  • Alola: Paradise

DO YOU GUYS WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME LAST NIGHT ok i was in the car with my dad on the outskirts of my city which is the third biggest city in australia, just for reference, and we were driving fairly fast down a MAIN ROAD when my dad sees something on the road and swerves like a motherfucker but it was too late because we hit something

and my dad swore REALLY LOUDLY and i was like “what???” and he was like “i think i just hit a koala” 

and it’s important to note that i have lived in australia for 23 years and i have NEVER in those 23 years seen a wild koala, not once in my entire life, and here we are on the main road in a very urbanised area and we HIT ONE WITH A CAR?????

so being my emotional, animal-loving self i burst into tears and my dad pulls over and gets out of the car to see if he can do anything but i have no hope because i hEARD the sound this koala made on our car and there’s no way that tiny thing is alive so i sit in the car crying hysterically

then five minutes later my dad comes back and he’s like “jess you gotta come see this” and i’m like “????? father???? i don’t really want to see an injured furry animal if it’s all the same to you???” and he was like “no you wanna see this”

so i get my ass out of the car and i’m basically shaking because i’m thinking WE JUST MURDERED THE NATIONAL ENDANGERED ICON OF OUR COUNTRY and he leads me to a tree and tells me to look up

and what do i see???

sorry this photo looks like it was taken on a ham sandwich but this RESILIENT MOTHERFUCKER got hit by this 1000kg vehicle and my dad said he watched as it just fuckin CLIMBED BACK UP A TREE with seemingly not a scratch on it and is staring at us like “hahaha you bitches THOUGHT u could end me i could sue but i’m far too busy for that right now” 

we called wildlife queensland just in case and they’ll probably move it to a more suitable area but what a god damn champion honestly


California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth

A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.


Who needs feminism anyway?

Who needs feminism anyway?
They ask, as they totter on with their perfect lives,
Equality was reached with the vote for women of course,
When men oh so graciously gave up their god forsaken right to exclude the women they had fought so hard to keep
In the kitchen and pantry,
Performing the acts and chores that were ‘too feminine’ for them to possibly consider,
and maybe still are.

Who needs feminism anyway?
They ask, as a fourteen year old girl walks home from school,
Heckled by older men
in cars and vans,
Beeping their horns at her like she is a piece of meat
and imagining a night with a girl that is young enough to be their daughter,
Yet this is normal behaviour,
Because boys will be boys, right?

Who needs feminism anyway?
They ask, as a news anchor, in their swanky office somewhere in an urbanised mess prepares for the next big story,
It is nothing unusual,
Another mass rape of a woman in India,
Or somewhere equally as far away,
Who dared leave the house when it was not deemed convenient for male authority,
Used by a group of men against her will,
But as a society we must remember to ask
What she was wearing,
As she clearly deserved it,
Asked for it even,
Because the choices made by women 

But who needs feminism anyway?
They ask, because it is evidently the choice
of the 2 million girls a year,
That are subjected to female genital mutilation,
To undergo such surgery
at the hands of an inexperienced tribesman,
Or unqualified doctor,
It is undoubtedlytheir fault if they are stupid enough to let it happen,
To condonesuch an act,
To not fight back.

But, then again, who actually needs feminism?
Because women are equal to men of course,
And of course
to support feminism is to support a world in which women are superior to men.
And women have entirely escaped male oppression, right?
Because what do the lives of other women, in other parts of the globe, matter, when here in the West,
Women have made progress?

So who needs feminism?
We all do,
As women
but also as humans,
Because to turn our backs on the millions of  females around the world,
Who do not have the luxury of equality,
Is expected,
Millions of women face the struggles of their own societies on a daily basis,
Yet as they are not part of ours,
Their pleas are ignored
Out of the shallow fear of being labelled a femi-nazi,
A radical,
A bitch,
Due to the disregard of the bigger picture,
And the failure to recognise, that as a globe,
As women,
We are a society in itself.

But still, for the love of the ignorant,
Out of the flagrant disregard for global atrocities,
And the fear of radicalist accusations,
It must be asked again,
Who needs feminism anyway?