Appropriate methods and structures to achieve food independence on one third of an acre

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Appropriate Technology for Production (Seed collecting and Animal Breeding)

Seed Saving:
Being sustainably self reliant in a variety of food also requires a sustainable seed collection and breeding program. A specialised area devoted to seed collection would be an option – especially if seeking to grow fruit and vegetables that are true to type or if selling or trading seeds as part of your overall system. This may not be an option if space is limited or if you are using a chop and drop method for self sowing of seed.

A small seed saving shed or large cupboard is an important piece of technology. In fact a designated seed saving area as part of the Nursery and Production system is best. This would consist of:

  • glass jars to store seed;
  • a record and dating system to ensure seeds
  • workbench to extract seeds and to set up stratification, fermentation or other stimulation or extraction process.
  • good air circulation to prevent mould or disease from seeds.

It is also appropriate to have a secondary seed source outside the property that can be introduced periodically to ensure continuation of a solid strain.

Animal Breeding:
Breeding systems are an important asset to an Urban Permaculture System. However with the confined space good planning is a must. Broody hens will require a Nesting box and small yard chicken tractorto protect young chickens from wildlife.

See image 1 for small chicken tractor design ideal for a setting a broody hen.

With good design these cages can be used as covers over young seedlings or to protect established plants from chickens or ducks when not being used to raise chickens

Cages for breeding rabbits require different rabbit-breeding-cagedesign than Chicken coops. Timber is generally not used as it can absorb and hold disease that
can easily be spread between rabbits. This is particularly important for cages with breeding does.

All wire cages are the most common and can be made from any old wire with particular attention on wire size for the floor.

Image 2 shows a Breeding cage without the Nesting Box.

Taking Production to the next stage (Sowing, Growing & Raising)

Greenhouse and Nursery/Shade house

This area uses structures that can not be overlooked in the urban permaculture environment when developing a system of self reliance and sustainability.

A small cupboard style seed germination unit is well suited to an Urban Permaculture System. This type of unity can be constructed on wheels to be easily moved around if needed for maximum or reduced sun. A simple design can be seen on the following video –

A poly tunnel and shade house for growing seedlings and plants after germination is also an important piece of technology even for the smallest of permaculture systems. A poly tunnel design can also double as a shade house by replacing plastic with shade cloth.

Constructing a poly tunnel is a relatively easy process. Pre-made steel framed kits are available but the same principle can be applied with alternative materials such as poly or PVC pipe. The following video shows step by step how to construct a pre-made kit. When watching imagine using alternative materials such as PVC pipe and think about how this might be put together. What are the similarities and differences with construction methods ?

Chicken Tractor

Chicken Tractors are perfect for clearing beds ready for planting. On systems of several acres in size a chicken tractor might be as large as 100 square meters – or larger. A shed might be built on an old car trailer with nest boxes and feed and watering units. The yard itself constructed of electric mesh fencing or similar for easy moving. As in this example of Geoff Lawtons “Chicken Tractor on Steroids”

In an Urban Permaculture System a Chicken tractor is more likely to be the size of the breeding coop mentioned in the article on production. The ideal size of an Urban Chicken Tractor is the size of a garden bed. Alternatively plant larger garden beds in plots the size of the Chicken tractor. As a crop finishes the tractor can be moved allowing the chickens to clean it up ready for the next planting.

The following video shows an excellent example of moving multiple chicken tractors in rows. This approach has many uses including moving between rows of fruit trees, moving over multiple rows of garden beds or cleaning up a new property –

The design and concept are basically the same and the size can be adjusted to fit the system it is being implemented in.

Going up

Increasing abundance can be achieved by using vertical growing structures. A good example of this are potato cages ( and gutter gardens (

Vertical gardens can increase production in very small spaces. They are well suited to annual vegetables like Lettuce and Spinach or fruits like strawberries.

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