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The Winnipeg Foundation

South Osborne Permaculture Commons
South Osborne Permaculture Commons volunteers press freshly-picked apples.

South Osborne Permaculture Commons

Each year in South Osborne, land is converted to edible landscapes and hundreds of people are fed using the principles of permaculture.

“The permaculture concept is ‘earth share, people share, and fair share.’ So a portion of what we grow is always donated to, preferably, people that need it,” explains Tim Stuart, a Board member with Sustainable South Osborne Community Cooperative (SSOCC).

SSOCC’s Permaculture Commons is a series of community gardens in the Riverview and Fort Rouge communities. Anyone is welcome to join for a share in the harvest. But the project involves more than community gardens. There’s a hands-on course though the University of Manitoba that combines sociology, urban agriculture, food sovereignty and research methods. There are also community potlucks, a food share co-op, and an annual harvest dinner fundraiser. Plus, food grown through the garden clubs is sold to local restaurants and donated to those who need it.

The community-building aspect is especially important for SSOCC’s Vice President Rod Kueneman, who is also a Senior Scholar in the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Manitoba.

“That’s a very pragmatic kind of a goal, to teach people to grow food. But I want people to know each other. I want them to share their knowledge, share their tools. Make decisions and solve our problems. Really, we’re trying to build strong, local communities. And I think we’re having increasing success at that.”

It’s been a learning process since the project began in 2009, says Kueneman. Now other community groups, such as Spence Neighbourhood Association and Ma Mawi, are coming out to learn how they can utilize permaculture techniques in their own communities.

Permaculture works with nature to increase yield, minimize work and heal the land.

“Permaculture, in very basic terms, is bio-mimicry. It’s copying what nature already does,” says Mr. Stuart. “Some crops, like grains, pretty much require monoculture. [Permaculture is] the idea of companion planting: putting plants together that help each other to grow and protect each other with more symbiotic relationships.”

To learn more go to

South Osborne Permaculture Commons Map

Click on the map below to watch a video from each site.
Note: The 360 videos allow you to click and drag to see the entire site but your browser must be up-to-date.

  1. A Place to Grow in Lord Roberts
    This garden club, which features a hoop house and an herb spiral, provides a space for people of all ages to come together. Participants include youth from local elementary schools and day cares, as well as adults.
  2. A Place to Grow in Riverview
    Located at the Riverview Garden Society just off Churchill Dr., this teaching garden features four raised-beds.
  3. South Osborne River Garden
    This spring about 65 flood-resistant fruit and nut bushes were planted along the riparian forest, next to the river. This was done to encourage bio-diversity without adding too much extra weight to the riverbank.
  4. The South Osborne Orchard Club
    This is the largest site in the Permaculture Commons, with 80 fruit frees, hundreds of berry bushes, annual and perennial herbs and crops, and hugel beds.
  5. People Garden
    Named by the kids at the local day care, this garden was built in 2013 as part of the Building a Community Commons course at University of Manitoba. The garden boasts a hoop house, herb spiral, demonstration food forest, and hugel beds.

In 2016, Sustainable South Osborne Community Cooperative, in partnership with Food Matters Manitoba, received $20,000 for the South Osborne Permaculture Commons. The grant was drawn from the hundreds of Community Building Funds held at The Foundation, such as the Jim and Kathleen Graham Fund, the Grace and Casey Kraayeveld Fund, and the Israel Joseph Dreman Fund.

This story is featured in the Fall 2016 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.