What is it?
Biointensive polyculture is a method of gardening and farming which uses a small amount of gardening space to produce many different types of food. This method of food production, amongst others, is used by Helen and Bronwyn from Wynlen House in Braidwood, NSW. In a large urban block they are able to grow and raise vegetables and meat to support a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription and a weekly market stall.
Wynlen House grow many types of vegetables pioneering methods of season extension, such as cloches and row covers on a small scale. Their aims are to use space and time succession planting and companion planting to utilise the ground that they are managing. One benefit is that they can grow a great amount of food, but they also use less water, as the plants are closer together. Also, there is less need for weeding, as the plants shade out many of the weeds that would normally grow in any other method of food production. These two benefits are the two main areas of concern for any who attempt growing food for market.
Why is it important?
Our modern methods of food production and distribution have a negative impact on Earth. Our health, our communities, our economy and our Earth are suffering because we have centralised our systems to such a degree that there is little connection and care about food production and where our food comes from. We expect that we can access bananas and tomatoes all year round, and do not think about the farming methods, the chemicals and water used, the transport, the refrigeration and storage of the food we insist on using – all of which are contributing to climate emergency.
If more people were to take up urban farming, we would localise the economy, be more connected with the food we eat – we can talk to the farmer who grew the food and find out for ourselves if, what and why chemicals were added. The farmer would know and care about the people who they grow for – hopefully reducing the industrial practices used previously. We would also be more connected as community – we would understand the difficulties in creating food and be happy to pay the real cost of food, and collectively enjoy the bounties when the season is good. We would eat seasonally, which has many benefits to our own health.
Can you do it?
If you have a garden – yes, you can do it! This method of farming/gardening is accessible and scalable to any sized yard. The beauty of this method is being able to start small, and you can add to garden beds as you increase your confidence and market. If you are interested in learning more you could look into doing a permaculture design certificate to learn the theories in more depth or for a shorter course, Wynlen House offer online courses to help in your understanding