THE BLOG
03/18/2012 04:59 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2012

Going Green in the City

I meet a lot of people who tell me "I'd love to grow some of my food this year, but..." or "I can't do permaculture where I live because... " or "I wish I had chickens but..." Way too many of us believe we can't go green because we live in the city, have no land, have a small apartment, etc. etc. So we continue to be slaves of the supermarket.

If these worried folks are local I like to show them the half-wine barrels and terra cotta pots that live on our driveway, just outside the backdoor (easy to care for with kitchen-sink rinsing water). And if they have even a little open space near where they live, my hubby gives tours of our 1/3 acre suburban lot that over the last decade has become a productive permaculture-style backyard food forest, chock a block with over 100 fruit and nut trees, herbs, veggies, edible roses and other yummies.

If they aren't from our area, I tell them to read Rachel Kaplan and Ruby Blume's new book on Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living or permaculturist Toby Hemenway's classic Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Both these well-illustrated guides teach readers how to grow or raise a lot of food right on their balcony or patio or in a narrow urban side yard.

Urban Homesteading is especially useful for the way it details so many aspects of the process of going green in the city in a practical way -- everything from home gardening to greening up your attitude to experimenting with composting toilets to slaughtering chickens to powering down -- even if you're in a small home or apartment.

So, no excuses now! The pioneers have paved the way for the rest of us. All over this country and around the world people are finding that recovering the skills our great-grandparents knew will help us provide for ourselves and our neighbors. This is a hands-on daily practice that is profoundly empowering, saves money and, in the end, will transform how we all live.