Monthly Archives: December 2010

Community Gardens: Basemapping

There are lots of different ways to present this sort of information, I’m following the instructions from the permaculture Certificate IV with the National Environment Centre, and taking in to consideration the excellent surveying techniques outlined by David Jacke’s Edible Forest Gardens, a double volume I highly recommend*

To begin with, we need to write a few basic bits of information, what is the site, where is it, who’s the client and show the scale of the map we’re using. I’ve also added the property boundary.

Then we look at information helps us understand the nature of the site, and how best to design for it. The things we need to take in to consideration are environmental. In this area what kind of climate is this, what’s the rainfall and how many growing days are there? This is the kind of information you think of when designing any property. Permaculture has a really specific way of splitting out information we design around so that it becomes very straight forward to place the elements we want to include in our designs.

The base map tells us what’s already on the site. For how can you set a course to go somewhere if you don’t know where you are?

A Base Map needs to include

  • Water, where does it come from, where does it go, where is it stored? A diagram of taps, pipes, downpipes, irrigation, and connection to sewerage should also be described in this map.
  • Access – where are the roads and footpaths? Where would we park or take deliveries, bring in machinery or a fire engine?
  • Structures – What buildings (house, shed, greenhouse, shadehouse, chook house, workshop, potting shed) are on the site, are their any other hard structures such as fences, gates, firepits. I’ve split out another category in this case, as the site is used by a number of different groups, and that’s gardens.
  • Sector analysis – what are the outside influences, where do they come from? Wind, rain, pollution (noise, chemical etc) nice view, bad view? These are often depicted as arc/pie slice chart as an overlay. Slope, and consequences of aspect are also included in this view of the site.

Here’s an overview, this includes the main features of the site, location of buildings, access points, the creek that runs through a property, and contours along with a few representative photographs.

North Katoomba Community Gardens: Overview


North Katoomba Community Gardens: water flows & capture


The main paths of access, by foot or in a vehicle are marked here, and shows where the slopes are too steep for vehicle access.


The main structures are indicated in the overlay consistent with the other maps. However on site are clustered together around the entrance to the gardens so there is a separate map for these.


While the community gardens have a physical presence, it is the people that make up the gardens, quite literally. The next map I’ll produce will include the main groups that use, have a connection to, or authority over the site, with some description of their involvement, influences and resources. Some of these are specifically related to one area of the gardens.