Polytechnic Permaculture

I think you need a narrative. What is the big picture? What are you proposing to do? What are the concerns? Challenges? Assets that you are “leveraging”? Nice link to your example permablitz… but point it out that this is what it is, and state how this would change or be the same, or help somewhere in another country.

by: Alex Vincent, Clare Farrington, Jordan Grant, Brandy Kalbach, & Patrick Robertson


Permaculture is a problem solving method which utilizes collaboration and sustainable practice. The approach seeks to develop community practices which mirror relationships found in nature; looking at how systems in the community interelate so as to better tie them together. We chose this as powerful method for Garden implemention. We chose an elementary school, San Benito Elementay in Atascadero, as our focus. At San Benito, we hope to see the power of community manifest itself to develop a garden which will teach the children about sustainable food production.


The permablitz concept began in Melbourne in 2006 when Dan Palmer, a then recent permaculture design course graduate, and friends decided to get together to redesign backyards over weekends. The concept has since branched into many countries around the world and hundreds of reciprocity-based garden interventions. By tying the San Luis Obispo Permablitz Network to both the community and the university, it becomes a new model and powerful tool to connect not only eager volunteers to backyards, but also innovation from Cal Poly to greater education about local food systems. As far as we’re aware of, this shall be the first time a university will be such a driving factor for the permablitz series. With paid student interns leading the initial development of the network, it should give the effort a strong foundation from which to start integrating the model into the community. Working closely with the SLO Permaculture Guild will also ensure that the community as a whole is motivated and involved with the program’s development. For more information about the original permablitz network, visit: http://www.permablitz.net/.

Permablitz Garden Interventions


The purpose of a garden intervention is to assemble a team and make a functioning garden with people from the community. The goal is for a small group of designers, including the client, to plan and lead a large force of community members to quickly get the garden completed. This work day is meant to foster community attachment, if not ownership, to the project. If the community cannot be directly involved with the gardens upkeep, then the website can keep them updated on the progress of the garden. In the end the process is meant to cultivate strength and resiliency within the local community.

1. Meet with host. Discuss their intentions and vision, understand their patterns and projected narrative of the garden.
2. Design Meeting. Collect interested participants from community (both student and surrounding) and host a workshop to design the garden. Focus on climate, sector, water, and terrain analysis and accompanying design constraints.
3. Materials Collection. At the end of the Design Meeting, leave the host with a list of materials. Offer assistance with where and what to buy in preparation for implementation.
4. Implementation. Gather together a volunteer workforce appropriate to the scale and program of the space. Describe design, layout plan, and guide teams towards what to do. Break for lunch and encourage discussion. Also encourage questions and design improvisations through group discussion.


Case Study: San Benito Elementary School, Atascadero, CA

Click Picture to see more!


Alex was approached by this elementary school to help transform a barren area of land near the parking lot into a learning space. After a lot of communication between administration and the permaculture design team, a permablitz date was set and the volunteers were organized. Together we helped to transform the empty space into a expansive garden area
Pictures and Design
See photos and designs on our Tumblr page:
http://sanbenitopermablitz.tumblr.com/ UPDATE
Conclusion: The San Benito Garden Creation
The San Benito Elementary School garden offers a quality case study of how the permablitz purpose is carried out on the ground, or rather, in the dirt. On the day of the garden intervention, the team assembled: teachers and parents of San Benito’s finest grade-schoolers, the grade-schoolers themselves, local college students, and local volunteers. The design process considered local context by becoming aware of the site’s contours and designing accordingly. With food and water, jokes and conversation, work and inquiry, occurring constantly, the community building was highly observable.


Community Development
We believe that a strong sense of community is a rare commodity in the lives of many today. The society in which we live in needs our innovation to create a stronger sense of community in order to its members to thrice and proseper at their highest capacity. Our goal was to build community locally using a process that supported designs which would be efficient, collaborative, appropriate and sustainable in the long term. These community-based activities would in turn inspire global perspectives through local considertation.

Self-sustaining food production
In order to build community, we must also address the systems that support us and help us survive. By creating a network of loval food production, we can both connect people to their food and to each other in order to create a more resilient and sustainable local food system and a stronger, more collaborative community. Through educating people about growing their own food and creating a network for people to share both their harvest and their practices, a stronger, more resilient community can emerge and thrive.

3rd World Application

All communities have individual strengths and weaknesses. The application of Permaculture is meant to be tailored to the development of resiliancy in a community. Our society has food resources readily available at the supermarket, thus education on where our produce comes from and how the process works is lacking. So for our community, useful resources can be created through hands on education in gardening, compost, and food production. In many other communities around the world food production is already an integral part of life, so they may search for another form of permablitz. While very powerful as a garden implimentation tool, the permablitz model can be applied to any community system, like greywater, composting toilets, or food forestry.