PermaBlitz: A Sustainable Makeover for Eastside Garden

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This garden produces vegetables, olives, peaches and berries for the devoted Pittman-Sullivan neighbors who established it in 2009 with Green Spaces Alliance. With this weekend’s re-design to make the garden more sustainable, it’s hoped the spot will evolve into a mature Food Forest in 15-20 years. Courtesy photo.

This garden produces vegetables, olives, peaches and berries for the devoted Pittman-Sullivan neighbors who established it in 2009 with Green Spaces Alliance. With this weekend’s re-design to make the garden more sustainable, it’s hoped the spot will evolve into a mature Food Forest in 15-20 years. Courtesy photo.

A free, two-day event this weekend in the Eastside will give people who grow their own fruits and vegetables a chance to practice techniques that could make their gardens more productive and sustainable.

Aptly named PermaBlitz, the event is a 16-hour re-design of a community garden using principles of permaculture, a philosophy of land use aimed at conserving water and other natural resources.Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas volunteers will build berms for planting, dig swales to catch rainwater, and plant fruit trees, berry bushes, and vegetables.

Located in a corner of the large Pittman-Sullivan Park, the garden is tended by neighbors and sponsored by Green Spaces Alliance, a non-profit organization whose goal is to preserve green spaces in urban areas, which include unique physical and cultural landmarks of our region.

“A permaculture design works with nature, not against it,” says Angela Hartsell, community gardens program manager for Green Spaces. “Creating a swale next to a planting berm captures water from the slope so there’s more water available to the plants, for example.”

Green Spaces Alliance’s Michelle Gorham spoke at the first Permaculture. Work(ing)shop at the Pittman-Sullivan Food Forest in September 2011. Courtesy photo.

Green Spaces Alliance’s Michelle Gorham spoke at the first Permaculture. Work(ing)shop at the Pittman-Sullivan Food Forest in September 2011. Courtesy photo.

Other techniques involve multipurpose plants and growing plants in multiple layers. Speakers will discuss several practices and volunteers will apply them.

“People learn a lot better when they’re doing what they’re hearing,” Hartsell said. “It cements the information in their brain.”

Here’s a rundown of the four “work(ing)shops” about permaculture this weekend (March 7 and 8). Organizer's note: start times are approximate.

Low-impact design

Saturday, 9-10 a.m

Troy Dorman, Tetra Tech Engineers

The local watershed

Saturday, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Bryan Hummel, natural resource specialist for Joint Base San Antonio

Base mapping

Sunday, 9-10 a.m.

Nadia Gaona, San Antonio Permaculture Group

Plant selection and plant guilds

Sunday, 2:30- 3:30 p.m.

Michelle Gorham, Green Spaces Alliance

 

Volunteers will be moving soil and mulch, and digging lots of holes, says Hartsell. She suggests wearing close-toed shoes and bringing a water bottle; Green Spaces will provide gloves and tools.

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