Gardening for biodiversity

We invite you to look at Nature. Find those secret corners, pieces that were left over, the apparently abandoned spots of a garden (yours or nearby). You may be surprised by finding a web of interactions. If you look at natural systems, you rarely find plants growing in evenly spaced out straight lines – instead, polycultures are Nature’s way of cultivating. Moreover, besides plants, there is an intricated web of life and relationships between them, animals (especially insects) and fungi. In all these relations, there is competition, parasitism, and symbiosis. Nature may seem a bit chaotic when compared to most human made gardens. But in natural chaos there is an “order”. In general, what we try to do in permaculture is to mimic natural patterns and to reinvent them in a way that increases diversity of all life forms and it is simultaneously useful and productive for humans.

But so, how do we do it?

The idea is that, more than doing agriculture, we are creating ecosystems. These ecosystems are intended to be productive landscapes for people but also to other beings. Therefore, we grow different kinds of plants (veggies, bushes, trees) in different ways (swales, raised beds, greenhouse). By increasing plant diversity, we are increasing insect and fungal diversity. All life forms on Earth have been evolving together for millions of years up to the moment of now – what we observe today. By growing a diverse garden rather than a monoculture, you are growing a garden that is also more resilient.

As our project is within a Faculty which closed due to the pandemic, our garden stopped having its usual maintenance, so we are turning the problem into a solution. By embracing the interesting opportunity that arises – as we attempt to “leave this place better than we found it” – this becomes a good chance to observe how a system designed by people develops with a much lower input of human effort, and how evolves without our presence. We are hoping for this slow-motion to be as temporary as possible, and someday soon we expect to open doors again. At that time, if you are in Lisbon, we invite you to take a leap at HortaFCUL for an unusual tour and to get your hands earthy.

Video by Earth Collectiv ● Vasco Pissarra

Divulgação científica