Edible Cities – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Edible Cities: Urban Permaculture for Gardens, Yards, Balconies, Rooftops and Beyond
by Judith Anger, Dr. Immo Fiebrig, and Martin Schnyder
Foreword by Sepp Holzer
Published by Permanent Publications October 2013
176 pages paperback, illustrated with color photographs and drawings throughout, 225mm x 170mm
ISBN: 978-1-85623-137-4

Edible CitiesWant to grow food but have nothing larger than a balcony, windowsill, or a piece of wall? No problem! This is a gardening book with a difference. It will help you to grow your own fruit, vegetables, herbs, and even mushrooms in small spaces in the most ecological way possible. Edible Cities shows you why the urban landscape can be a great place for permaculture. Discover inside:

  • Principles of permaculture

  • Worldwide examples of urban gardening projects

  • Ideas for flats and balconies

  • Green roofs

  • Vertical gardening and urban beekeeping

  • Guerrilla gardening and successful community projects

  • Illustrated practical techniques with clear instructions

Preface and contributions by Sepp Holzer

Edible Cites aims to inspire urban residents to incorporate nature, preferably the edible variety, into their lives. The authors, ardent permaculturists inspired by their study with Sepp Holzer believe that growing plants is possible for anyone with a balcony, rooftop, or even just a windowsill. To that end, they offer a broad overview of permaculture followed by numerous examples of how it is implemented in ways both beautiful and delicious.

Urban case studies from cities all over the world. Packed with inspiration and practical, fully illustrated ideas, discover how people around the world are inventing new growing opportunities and making them a reality with few resources and a lot of creativity. Find out how you, too, can plan and create your own urban growing paradise.

This is a great book that can be seen and used as a sort of manual for the creation of blueprints for the Edible City, a concept that we must turn into reality.

The issue is not just greening our cities, our urban areas, in the literal and other aspects but actually make spaces within productive by way of food growing.

The good news is, while there is still pollution for sure in our cities, the fact that gasoline no longer has lead as an additive makes the consumption of food grown in urban areas now, basically, once again, safe.

Car tires for growing of food, as advocated, so to speak, in the chapter about Detroit (pages 120-123) is a problem issue as, unless those tires are not steel belted radial tubeless ones, they leach cadmium, and possibly other chemicals, which can and will be taken up by the plants and in turn by those consuming the plants as food.

This book is the first – at least one of the first and few – that actually talks proper sense about making compost. As where most advise not to have any meat and cooked foods in the compost heap here, finally, sense is talked in that the advice is to is to include those items.

Personally I have always done that and never have had any problems though, nowadays, any such leftover foods go first through my hens.

The only problem with regards to cooked foods and meat in a compost heap is that it may attract rats. But then again even vegetable remains will do the same and, it would appear, the very heap itself.

I very much like the little practical tips that go with almost every chapter and here, as example, shall stand – pardon the pun – the Potato Tower. But this is but one and not the only one.

Having mentioned all those positive aspects a few negative ones will also have to be mentioned.

The first one would be that the high gloss paper, together with some of the text color, at times makes for tiring reading, especially in conditions of artificial light.

The second one being that the Urban HomesteadTM would have best been omitted from this book as a good example in permaculture as Jules Dervaes' ongoing lawsuits against people using the term “urban homesteading” in an attempt to trademark and patent the terms “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading”, etc., puts him a little in the league of Monsanto and Nestle.

Such actions fall very much under “money grabbing” and do not belong into the movements that want to promote a change of how we do things.

But those two points shall not detract from the book and the fact that it is a brilliant guide to permaculture in urban areas. The edible city must become reality for the sake of all of us and especially the Planet.

© 2014