All photos depict an Austin home with permaculture features designed by John Bushe. Tonight, gardening enthusiasts and sustainability advocates can check out the permaculture features John Bushe installed at his Dallas townhome, which is for rent beginning Jan. 1. 

Dec. 17, 2014

Would you like to have a cocktail, while learning how to give your plants a drink that won’t go on the water bill? Tonight’s Urban Permaculture Condo Open House near Northpark Mall is an opportunity to see home rainwater collection systems and much more – sustainable agriculture, urban style. The property offers working demonstrations of raising food, composting and repurposed material use — all on a typical two-bedroom townhome site.  

John Bushe’, the previous resident, developed these special features over two years. His guidance came from permaculture, a school of thought and practice that incorporates design and land care strategies modeled on Nature’s systems. He sums up his goal: “To be sustainable, providing food, shelter, water and power, to live independently by your own means.”

"On my way to that destination, I converted this site," he explains. "I like to make any place I live sustainable, to raise food and save on energy.”   

It's the fifth property that he has adapted to permaculture, for his own use or for clients.

This one is an educational and economic opportunity, for the right tenant. He or she can continue composting vegetable scraps into plant fertilizer, supplementing city water with collected rainwater—and harvesting vegetables and fresh fish from the patio! Bushe''s vegetable garden grows with roots suspended in a massive tank stocked with—and fertilized by – fish. It’s a home-sized version of a commercial aquaponics system. 

The townhome is for rent as of Jan. 1, and Bushe' is leaving in place all the features he built, hopefully for the next residents to use.  

“I have to admit, I’m attached to what I made,” he smiles.

It's not all fish and fruit trees, though, living permaculturally in the city. The challenges, says Bushe', include "the HOA, government, sometimes neighbors. The place is called Northpark Gardens, but there wasn't one garden.”

"I was just planting a seed of sustainability with this apartment." 

Not all municipalities accommodate certain permaculture innovations. Using "graywater" recycled from kitchen sinks and bathtubs for irrigation is not allowed in some municipal codes, for example. It's best to check. Several North Texas cities, such as Grapevine, have modified their codes after requests from sustainable builders and owners. 

John Bushe's permaculture passion extends beyond his home. The permaculture principle of  “zero waste” is the foundation of Bushe''s primary business, Zero Waste Advocacy.  The organization develops zero waste plans for cities internationally.  

"That one tool is the key that can take a city to sustainable," he says. 

By Zero Waste Advocacy's definition, the familiar sustainability slogan is expanded to: Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle, Rot!  

So, for an evening learning how to propagate seeds, grow food, catch rainwater, compost and operate an aquaponics system with minimal resources and repurposed materials,  the Permaculture Condo Open House would be the happy hour of choice.


Permaculture Condo Open House

Date: Wed, Dec. 17

Location: Northpark Gardens
7520 W Northwest Hwy, #4
Dallas, TX 75225

Hours: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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