Permaculture in the Burbs – Retrofitting the Suburbs for an Abundant Future

Saturday, January 25, 2020
3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Workshop Description

For decades, the suburbs have been the bane of environmentalists and for good reason as they were created by ripping up arable farmland or wild areas on the outskirts of cities.  They represent, to many people, unrestrained urban sprawl based on an intensely car-centred and consumerist lifestyle.

However, as permaculture originator David Holmgren has recently argued, the built form of suburbs can undergo radical transformations that allow them to be places in which food is grown, frugal abundance is practiced, and new possibilities for the creation of community and conviviality develop.

In this workshop, Becky Ellis, will make the case for the suburbs as sites of transition in the larger struggle to create ecologically regenerative and socially just cities.

She will argue that transformed suburbs can play an important role in building community-resilience in the face of climate change and food insecurity.

As part of the workshop Becky will document her own journey to make peace with the suburbs.

She will discuss how she transformed her home in the suburbs of London, ON into a place of food production, native medicinal herb cultivation, multi-species flourishing and community gathering.

Topics covered will include:

  • We need to radically transform our cities and this means drastically changing the suburbs.
  • Suburban properties can be ideal places for productive garden farms.
  • Often on the outskirts of cities, suburbia can also allow for the thriving of non-human nature by being a link between inner cities and rural areas.
  • Public spaces in suburban neighbourhoods can be sites of food forests, community gardens, community apiaries, and urban farms.
  • The goal of retrofitting suburbia is not self-sufficiency but community-sufficiency.
  • Demonstration sites are needed to spark people’s imagination about the possibilities for a future of ecological abundance.

Speaker: Rebecca Ellis

Becky Ellis is a PhD candidate in Geography at Western University who studies sustainable urban food systems.

Her current research project is on the relationship between people and bees in cities.

Her M.A in Anthropology, also from Western University, was about community gardening, gentrification, and belonging.

Becky is a permaculture practitioner and educator, having received her PDC in 2010 with Earth Activist Training.

Among other endeavours, she hosts the podcast Permaculture for the People and is chair of the Urban Agriculture Steering Committee for the City of London and Chair of the London Urban Beekeepers Association.

She is an avid gardener for over 15 years, hobbyist beekeeper, and community activist.