How to build a permaculture suburb

permaculture suburbia
Video screen capture Frank Gapinski

Once upon a time, all the talk in hippy circles was of the end of suburbia. But what if we could create suburbs that are designed to function in harmony with their surroundings?

That's the concept behind Village Homes in Davis, California. From passive solar housing through neighborhood fruit orchards, chicken coops and beehives to a carefully designed system of swales which is intended to let rainwater percolate into the ground, this 70 acre, 225-home site is about as harmonious as one can image any suburb to be.

Of course, the main problem with suburbs is location—and the associated transportation footprint that comes with it. But the FAQ over at Village Homes suggests that it is biking distance to the university, where many residents work. And Davis has already been recognized as one of the likeliest cities in the world to go truly car-free. So here too, Village Homes seems to come out on top.

Check out Geoff Lawton's homage to this "permaculture suburb" below—the full video is viewable at

How to build a permaculture suburb
From food forests to passive solar homes to water-filtering swales, one California communityshows us an alternative vision for the burbs.

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