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Sustainable living in miami’s urban paradise

While it can feel like we’re bombarded with news of our crippled environment, we’re in a great place to make small changes that will permanently change our future.

Permaculture is more than just eating organic or conserving water, it’s a design system that combines architecture, engineering and social sciences to create a living or working space that functions solely off the earth’s natural processes. It involves using alternate energy systems like solar, perfect for sunny South Florida, and designing sustainable systems that use or reuse rainwater. Indoor plants and gardens carefully designed to grow food for you and the community are also an important part of any permaculture system. And while it may not be feasible for most of us to live completely off the grid in Miami, there are plenty of smaller steps we can take to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

According to Marcus Thomson, Miami permaculturalist and author of Reap, Sow, Grow, eco-friendly activities and shopping are the first step toward a sustainable future. Contributing to local businesses and participating in community initiatives that promote eco-awareness is the second step. The third step, and probably the most rewarding, is your personal outlook on sustainability. “I got into this with a desire to remove all obstacles that limit my overall health and wellbeing,” says Thomson, who traveled around the world studying different cultures’ approaches to sustainable living.

The permaculture movement is happening globally, with projects in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and throughout North and South America. There are more than 500 permaculture projects in the works across the U.S. alone, while on an individual level, gardens are cropping up all over, from schools to backyard farms to condo balconies. Here in South Florida, one of the easiest ways to encourage the local permaculture scene is by supporting our growing number of community gardens, like those in Cutler Bay and North Beach. One of the best ones to visit is the gorgeous Earth ’n’ Us Farm in Little Haiti. It’s a beautiful example of how a permaculture system can thrive even in an urban environment. It’s been around since 1977, with pigs, chickens, and emus roaming the property, and treehouses available for rent to experience a completely different side of Miami.

If you want to start making changes in your own life, there are permaculture training courses to help you get started and local businesses like Ready-to-Grow and Permaculture Miami to help you grow a backyard food forest of your very own.

By Bethany Platanella
Bethany Platanella is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and avid traveler based in Miami Beach. With an emphasis on lifestyle, fitness, and local and international travel tips, she contributes to both online and print publications.