Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
With contributions from Jonathan Bates
"Our connection to place defines us as gardeners and farmers just as much as the plants we choose to grow. The integration of perennial plantings, microclimate, and natural beauty comes about by listening to the land. What a delight to then have one of America's preeminent permaculture teachers share his personal story with both place and partner. Sometimes that meaningful insight we need in shaping our own garden path comes from hearing of the successes and foibles other gardeners found on their path. The gift Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates offer in Paradise Lot is their heart for all things green."
—Michael Phillips, author of The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower
Featured in The New York Times!
One of Amazon.com's Top Books of February 2013!
How we did it and the challenges along the way.
When Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates moved into a duplex in a run-down part of Holyoke, Massachusetts, the tenth-of-an-acre lot was barren ground and bad soil, peppered with broken pieces of concrete, asphalt, and brick. The two friends got to work designing what would become not just another urban farm, but a “permaculture paradise” replete with perennial broccoli, paw paws, bananas, and moringa—all told, more than two hundred low-maintenance edible plants in an innovative food forest on a small city lot. The garden—intended to function like a natural ecosystem with the plants themselves providing most of the garden’s needs for fertility, pest control, and weed suppression—also features an edible water garden, a year-round unheated greenhouse, tropical crops, urban poultry, and even silkworms.
In telling the story of Paradise Lot, Toensmeier explains the principles and practices of permaculture, the choice of exotic and unusual food plants, the techniques of design and cultivation, and, of course, the adventures, mistakes, and do-overs in the process. Packed full of detailed, useful information about designing a highly productive permaculture garden, Paradise Lot is also a funny and charming story of two single guys, both plant nerds, with a wild plan: to realize the garden of their dreams and meet women to share it with. Amazingly, on both counts, they succeed.