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Over 200 Food Plants on Just a Tiny 1/10th Acre of Cold Climate Urban Land

The scattergun technique in permaculture – planting over 300 edible plants in your backyard to see what sticks, what takes off and what dies in the process. This is the technique used by Permaculture authors Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates when they converted their 1/10 acre suburban backyard into a perennial food garden of exotic plants located at Holyoke in Massachusetts. They transformed it into a functioning cold climate urban paradise.



In this very small backyard, Eric Toensmeier and Johnathan Bates live in a duplex sharing their mutual passion for rare plants. It also ended up as a business opportunity for Johnathan who now sells these plants to other permaculturalists.

They’ve successfully turned their passion into a success. They have authored a number of books including the book documenting their ten-year labor of love on this garden, called Paradise Lot.

They grow over 200 perennial food plants in temperatures that plunge below minus 20°C (-4°F).

Take a tour with the video below;

To learn more about Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates:

Check out Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates’ PRI Author Profiles:



  1. I have been interested in permaculture for a couple of years now and I truly believe sustainable living is the answer. Great work and a job well done.

  2. Love this and would love to do this on my 3/4 acre homesite but do not have the money to establish a permaculture yard. Is there a special design process and how well does this work in Florida? Awe struck John thx so much just breathtaking

    1. Yes John we have students in Florida feeding their whole family from urban blocks of land after taking the Permaculture Design Certificate course.

  3. As someone who is an ag professional, and a professional conservationist, i had to go see this site in person last year and it was all and more that i expected. Jon and Eric have designed a really beautiful place that just breathes life.

  4. Awesome!
    A love of plants instead of a fear of the future! This is why I love Permaculture and got ‘back into the game’ little over a year ago. Great work gentlemen!

  5. Great work guys and thanks to Geoff and eco films for the virtual tour. I’d love to see more footage.

    It is particularly pleasing to see how densely Eric and John have planted their plot of land. Respect.

  6. Where do I find the “non-traditional” plants? Read your book and am trying to incorporate as much as I can in my little town lot, but of course, skirret isn’t in the main stream catalogs. :) Thanks!

  7. i am trying to do something similar in New Orleans
    we have warmer weather here, so its a different set of p[lants
    most tropicals wont grow here, but i am trying with a few like papaya mango, banana, starfruit, jaboticaba etc…
    i dont think its quite a 1/10 of an acre either, its a normal suburban house, but, im at %20 of my food being grown, and hope to increase that to %50 soon

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