Lucky us! We were invited to transform what used to be an agricultural land in Bandung, Indonesia, into an edible permaculture landscape. The land is situated in the hillside of the city at around 1200m above sea level. This means the climate is relatively moderate (for tropical standards) with temperatures going down to 17 degrees at night which guarantees a good sleep. During daytime it’s sunny and tropically hot especially during the dry season (June – October). The 1700 sq m of land can be accessed by a small dirt road that since recently connects the hill with the suburbs of Bandung. Before our arrival the owners had already done some work on the land by clearing out the high grasses and by leveling out the terraces. Moreover, they installed a water system which ensures a constant water supply all year round: a 10,000l tank on the highest terrace of the land is constantly filled with water which is pumped up from a tank on a lower level terrace. This tank in turn is filled by rain water and by water that is pumped from a well from the lowest terrace. Thanks to gravity, the water in the top tank can now be used on every terrace. Not having to worry for access and water made our work a great deal easier. We plunged right into the fun of designing an edible landscape!
Our main goal is to transform the site into a green oasis with a huge diversity of edible and beautiful plants (tropical abundance!). We want to improve the land over time by creating a resilient ecosystem with a food forest and plenty of perennials. The soil structure will be built up and will become better and better with every passing month. Eventually, the land will provide healthy food and a retreat from all the hustle and bustle of Bandung’s four million inhabitants.
Our design approach
- Assessing the “is” situation to incorporate existing elements (existing trees, terraces, pathways, plants, fences, materials, buildings) into the design
- Doing a Sector Analysis of the Land in order to account for sun exposure, water movement on the land, wind direction, possible noise pollution, and possible fire hazards
- Establishing desired outcomes with the land-owners (such as food production, social space, habitat for biodiversity and insect refuge, showcase space for alternative food production systems)
- Diving the land into different Zones to simplify placement of elements and ensuring relative location
- Developing the new elements and placing them in accordance with the “is”-situation, the sector analysis and the desired outcomes and keeping in mind the design principles (garden beds, trees, building structures, animals, aquaculture)
We’ve come up with a rough design sketch that incorporates existing elements on the land as well as the elements that we decided to include in our design. The most important aspect is the planting of large, nitrogen-fixing trees such as Moringa and Lamtoro along all terrace borders – this will prevent terraces from collapsing, provide some shade to the entire land once the trees are large, and dramatically improve the nitrogen content of the soil! Other important elements are the banana circles, the raised garden beds and hugelkultur, as well as some low-tech solutions such as a chicken tractor and a solar food dehydrator.
In just 6 months we managed to really get a lot of different design elements in place!
We cycled a lot of nutrients…
We set up growing spaces in raised beds, hugelkultur, fields, and a herb spiral…
We dug out and set up two banana circles…
We built a clay pizza oven…
We set up cozy places and a shower…
We built a solar food dehydrator from scratch, and used it…
And we had a great time, ate lots of pizza, and celebrated our first yields!