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Dow Dominion Suburban Permaculture Project
Dow Dominion Suburban Permaculture Project
Last updated:
Asheville, North Carolina, US
Climate zone:
Warm Temperate

Carl Ragsdale
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Dow Dominion Suburban Permaculture Project

Project Type

Residential, Educational

Project Summary

This is an ongoing project to turn my typical suburban yard into a minimal-work food forest.

Project Description

My wife and I bought our late '70s ranch house in 2011. It sits in a quiet neighborhood just outside the city limits of Asheville, NC. Our property is just a third of an acre, which sits on the edge of a forested area with a small creek running through our back yard.

I originally started my garden in 2012, as a way to supplement our diet with fresh, organic produce. Although a fun hobby, typical backyard vegetable gardening turned out to be a lot of work. After reading a lot of articles and books on gardening over a few years, I picked up a lot of different methods on gardening and I subsequently discovered permaculture during my research. I acquired a basic idea of how permaculture works (although I still have plenty to learn), and decided that I would implement permacultural designs in my gardens to the best of my ability from that point on.

The main goal for the project is to obtain at least half of our family’s food directly from our yard during the production seasons. At this point, most of the food we obtain from the garden comes from annuals, such as lettuce, kale, spinach, tomatoes, beets and green beans. We have been steadily adding more perennial crops each year, including raspberries, blueberries, grapes, asparagus, and various leafy greens and herbs. Although these crops are not quite producing massive amounts of food yet, every year they begin to provide us with a little more than they did the previous season.

The challenges we face with our project are numerous. Perhaps the biggest challenge is designing our gardens to look aesthetically pleasing while still producing large amounts of food. Being in a suburb, we prefer that our yards are reminiscent of typical American properties, in order to preserve resale value in case we decided to sell the place in the future. Another serious obstacle is obtaining most our our resources on-site or within a close vicinity. Finally, a large portion of the property we have to work with is located on a steeply-sloped, heavily shaded forested area. This is by no means the only challenges we face, but are probably the most critical to overcome in order to reach our goal.

I will continue to learn more about permaculture, and implement designs that improve our food production while remaining ecologically (and economically) sustainable. I will also try to record my continual, albeit slow, progress here on PermacultureGlobal.org and on my blog, The Dow Dominion. I hope one day our project will set an example for future permaculturists looking to create a sustainable way to growing large amounts of food in a typical suburban garden.


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Project Badges
Residential Educational
Nathan Dow - Admin
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