Have you ever wondered if you can implement permaculture principles in a renting setting? Yes, you can! Read more about ‘permaculture renting’ with our guest blogger, Dawn Green, from lutrawita / Tasmania, and check out some great case studies on permaculture renting properties too.
“Many of us, myself included, have lived in rental properties over the years. Some of these situations are temporary, some are long term. But no matter what time frame applies, renting brings with it a unique opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Permaculture renting refers to the practice of establishing gardens and lifestyle choices based on permaculture principles within a rental property setting.
There are two big factors at play here – the temporary nature of the garden and infrastructure (for you, but it may pay divendends to future renters and owners. More on this later). And two, ensuring you have the appropriate permission and guidelines established before your shovel hits the dirt or any infrastructure is modified.
So, how does it work?
Firstly, pen a letter to the rental agency, seeking permission from the house owner to establish a garden or make changes. Make sure you talk about your passion for gardening and include a sketch of the garden beds you’d like to put in. Ideally these will be no-dig garden beds which are super easy to establish. That way it’s crystal clear what your intentions are and you have permission in writing to proceed.
Then it’s time to consider what type of garden you’d like to plant. A great source for ideas can be found here.
While you are working on your garden, find ways to connect with your local community to access all kinds of (usually) free resources, including seeds and cuttings. Discover your local permaculture group and start networking. Together we are smarter and more resourceful than on our own.
Other ways to live sustainably while renting includes the all-important act of reducing your waste. Most urban areas have good recycling collections systems, but don’t forget it’s important to avoid packaging where possible, especially food packaging. Buy food in bulk where you can and food waste and vegetable peelings can go into a backyard compost or give your waste a second change by tracking down a local Share Waste host. Or better yet, buy or make yourself a worm farm – you and your kids will be delighted with your new ‘pets’ and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly they multiply and munch up your food scraps!
Of course we must also focus on our water usage too. The easiest way to use greywater is to place a hose on the end of your washing machine output and then divert it to the lawn or trees. Ensure you use the most natural biodegradable detergent that you can find.
You can save litres and litres of water by catching the first part of your shower water before it starts to run hot into a bucket and then use the water on your veggie garden. And it’s also worth considering standing in one of those large plastic tubs while having your shower and then dumping the shower water outside.
A great firsthand story on permaculture renting from Milkwood Permaculture will give you lots of tips and ideas to consider too.
Think of the future
Even though you may need to move on from your rental property one day (the house is being sold, or your living arrangements have changed), your legacy garden will go on helping others and helping the planet.
Planting trees or perennials at a rental property means we are leaving behind plants which will improve the soil, increase biomass, create habitat and will hopefully make a small, but significant difference to the world.
So don’t let a minor detail like renting prevent you from the pleasure of creating permaculture in your community and contributing to having a smaller carbon footprint. Do your homework and before you know it, you’ll be out there with the dirt in your hands, knowing you are making a difference in the here and now, and also laying the seeds for the future as well.
Some of our PA members have excellent blog posts on permaculture renting. Check out Meg McGowan, aka Permacoach, Legacy Gardening in Rental Properties, Nevin Sweeney from Under the Choko Tree Sustainable Living for Renters and a great series from Milkwood Permaculture in a variety of rental properties.
For those on Social media, you may wish to follow The Urban Nanna on Facebook and Instagram for daily tips on successfully implementing permaculture principles and building community while living in a rental property.
The Smart Renting website also has a great range of tips from across Australia.
There are also a great range of permaculture renting case studies on the Retrosuburbia website to check out including:
Matt and Sabas Rental property
The Retrosuburbia Real Estate Checklist (RREC) and ‘Sun’ rating checklist aim to help you evaluate an existing property – whether it is the one you live in or one you are considering purchasing or leasing. It’s available to download free from here or purchase the entire book here (if you are a PA member don’t forget to use your membership discount code too!)