A new kind of cow. My kind of cow. Designed by the amazing Laura Sweany of Terra Flora Farm, it’s a shining example of just how much food and community one gorgeous garden can produce. One amazing thing is it’s newness – it was less than a year old when I visited one cloudy October day. You can see pictures of it on the Community Orchard of West Seattle website before in all it’s sodded glory, and while the team was building it.
Although things have literally blown up for me since the day of my visit I’ve been thinking of this garden non-stop. My own blank slate is frozen solid right now but I’ve been quietly designing it in my mind’s eye. The orchards are taking shape and I have a vision for the children’s garden. The seating areas are obviously laid out but the central garden itself will be something along these lines, connecting them all.
It’s simple to plan, sow and harvest straight row crops in a small space. But once the challenge of producing more and more in the same space wore off, I realized that I was craving something less rigid, less linear, and more free form. More organic, if you will. More this.
This narrow swath of orchard is bursting with edibles and medicinals as well as flowers.
Well-laden arbors cross over gently meandering wood chip paths.
Keyhole plantings house herbs, flowers, and medicinals.
A carpet of strawberries flanks blueberries, currants, gooseberries and fruit trees.
Laura is employing the “Slender Spindle” fruit growing method and thinks she’ll get hundreds of pounds of fruit next year. Tying young branches downward (in the position of heavily laded fruit) tricks them into thinking they are gay divorcees and suddenly they go to town so to speak. I’m anxious to see how this works next year because it would be a fabulous urban trick!
The fruit trees are underplanted with clover to fix nitrogen.
In Permaculture there are no block plantings. Forget about tracking and rotating crops. Combine things that look pretty together, paying attention to root space and sunlight needs (shortest in front, tallest in back).
These plantings are just as intensively spaced as my old gardening methods. If you had minimal air flow in your garden this could quickly turn into mildew but COWS is located on a windy hilltop so that’s not an issue there.
This is a garden that will feed your soul as well as your stomach. This is the garden of my dreams.