Category: Uncategorized


Sellwood Gap, one of the largest urban food forests in the USA.

The Sellwood Gap is a citizen-led initiative to transform a series of undeveloped lots into a reflection of the needs and desires of the Sellwood Neighborhood. This community is very fortunate to have access to this amount of open space since most Portland neighborhoods have been developed without provision for many kinds of common spaces. The land was acquired through a Metro Bond Measure which provides for a wide variety of possibilities including open space, wild life habitat and corridors, native plantings, edible landscapes, and other possible ideas. The design depicted here is an early exploration that integrates nearly all of the diverse ideas that had been gathered to that point. It was prepared for presentation to Metro and Park’s Bureau staff as a way to explore a range of ideas, and to receive feedback. The next step included drafting a thorough community involvement plan that would lead to the creation of an actual design. The community design process has been underway since 2012, and implementation may happen in 2015. A further note: In 2012, just after an exciting community event at Sellwood’s SMILE Station concerning Food Forest design projects in Seattle, an intern at that time posted on this site that the Gap design was a specific kind of design related to Food Forests. We regret that enthusiastic over-statement, especially since the Gap project design process is still ongoing.

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This project, an urban agriculture localization initiative, is a collaboration with numerous ecological design professionals including Doug Bullock, Jenny Pell, & Dave Boehnlein.

Mark Lakeman is presently acting as lead teacher for Planet Repair Institute’s second annual urban permaculture design course, now in full swing. One of the most innovative permaculture courses in the world, this PDC is a project-based design course that includes a sequential, multiple-cycle design methodology.

From PRI: “Our course is embedded in the neighborhood of Sellwood, where we grapple with urban transformation in a real context dealing with real people and social dynamics, challenges, and opportunities! Each session we explore a different ‘layer’ of the possibilities for neighborhood transformation and ‘block repair’. We consider simple no-cost or low-cost interventions and small scale intensive systems that any neighborhood could implement in order to help transition our urban spaces into thriving social ecologies. Blending the whole system design methods of permaculture with the urban reclamation techniques of block repair, we explore opportunities to reclaim the commons, activate underutilized spaces, integrate water management and energy systems, take down fences, create vibrant perennial food systems, and localize our economic relations.”

Additionally, “We will be hosting many of our bioregion’s top instructors of ecological design who will cover a wide variety of topics, including soil remediation, water harvesting, food systems and forest gardening, natural building techniques, urban ecology and foraging, plant propagation and grafting techniques, small scale energy systems, and community mapping and collaborative design methods.However, our course is not limited to the classroom and theoretical learning – we will be spending lots time outside applying our knowledge, learning from hands-on techniques, and actively implementing systems that will have an immediate direct impact on the neighborhood and on the planet!”