Urban Food Production Hugelkultur
Local abundant food production right out front for an inner urban city lot on the coast.
What is hugelkultur?
Hugelkultur is a German technique where wood is buried in trenches and mounded with dirt up to 2 m tall. While the pile decomposes the wood becomes a sponge for soil life and retains more moisture. This method of growing allows for less watering and robust vegetation growth.
Living on an urban lot just outside the core of Victoria, the client wanted to experiment with higher yield, lower input food production. The answer was a hugelkultur bed 15 ft long, 5 ft tall at installation, broadcast seeded with a variety of annual vegetables from greens to root crops, including corn, beans, peas, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Watered only a dozen times in one of the driest summers on record, the hugelkultur was highly productive with minimal effort, consistently producing food throughout the year after just one planting. In fact, automatic watering on the bed was quickly abandoned because it was retaining water so well, even with a 100 kph+ windstorm that dumped 70 mm of rain in 48 hrs. On the social side, it became a neighbourhood feature, slowing traffic and creating a conversation point with neighbours and local kids.
Bindweed was a persistent challenge on the property. The client needed higher productivity with lower inputs compared to conventional gardening. They also wanted to increase visibility of and demonstrate the potential for food production on a typical urban yard.
This was the epitome of “set it and forget it”, and became the foundational experience for the construction of many hugelkultur beds that followed.
A raingarden offers the solution to a parking lot’s water overflow problem.
A retrofit design of a city-run dog park into a food forest orchard.
A food forest appears on a steep slope between two parking lots.
A rural pond and hugelkultur provide increasing fire protection and water resilience.