Today is International Permaculture Day and I thought I would have a little look at the basis of what permaculture actually is, and what it means, in an every day living kind of way?
Whether you live in a tiny busy city apartment or 1000 hectare farm out the back of….well, somewhere well out the back. Permaculture is something that can be easily infused into every day living.
In nutshell, it’s a way of living that designs and builds a system that incorporates 3 ethics- Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.
Connected productive living within ourselves, our families and our communities…without the destructive environmental cost. Sounds pretty good right?
Break the word down and you’ve got PERMANENT AGRICULTURE, that doesn’t mean you have a permanent collection of farm hands and cattle roaming over your fields. That means you’ve got a system in play that means you’re accountable for your own living, (well as much as possible anyway. )
Still with me? Right so what does this all mean to me and for our family of five living in a regular every day kinda urban city setting?
First up, let’s look at the 12 principles that permaculture is based on. I’ve found some will be used more than others depending on our context at the time and on the day. Basically this is daily living stuff though.
- Observe and interact… planning, observing where the sun falls (this might be for heat, growth or simply light) connecting with what everything around us is doing, why and when. Also broadening those community circles and reaching out to others.
- Catch and store energy…whether it’s collecting rainwater and sunshine (or my own energy!)
- Obtain a yield… yields to date have been still on the novel side, regardless of where we are living. I’m working on it though, damn it…and at least I make sourdough.
- Apply self regulation and accept feedback…constantly.
- Use and value renewable resources and services. Once you tap into this, it’s hard to tap back out.
- Produce no waste…so many things can be reused, used in different ways or simply just not obtained in the first place.
- Design from patterns to details…Hooray for thinking outside the square.
- Integrate rather than segregate…for some reason this absolutely delights me. Complete satisfaction when I can manage it, even in the tiniest way. Whether it’s in the garden or involving my kids in some minor task.
- Use slow and small solutions…so much easier to change or maintain things. Far less confronting than dramatic changes.
- Use and value diversity…I’m a big believer in this for any part of life. Growing plants, our diet, or education.
- Use edges and value the marginal…another one of my favourites. Creating something from the seemingly unloved, and unused is incredibly satisfying.
- Creatively use and respond to change…bend like a reed baby.
As you can see, this isn’t just out in the garden. This is life living skills, numbered beautifully from 1 to 12.
Exploring all the options and making sure everything is reasonably adaptable. What works for me now, might well, need to work differently in the future. Things are constantly changing and tweaking things are necessary dependent on what’s going on around us at the time.
Also, what’s your context? What works for me, may not work for the next person.
A tiny example which up until lately, I hadn’t considered a whole lot was the environmental impact of having a dog or a pet in general. Sure I knew the pet food industry was just as crap as our own mainstream food in many ways but until I was actually standing there in the pet food aisles, I didn’t realise just how ridiculous things really were. Sugar, salt, colourings and food miles for our beloved fur beast? You betcha.
Dog food I manoeuvred my way through and poo is now being collected in cornstarch bags (if out) and deposited into a worm tower in an untouched corner of the yard if at home. (#6 Produce no waste.)
Worm towers are also favoured within our wicking beds (with an addition of compost and food scraps rather than dog poo.)
While we are still relatively new to our current living environment, permaculture is a system of living that in some shape or form I have been happily living in different contexts from the very beginning.
Some things have changed, some things will quietly remain very similar and some, will simply grow and expand like a 10 year olds legs over summer holidays, (or something like that.) It’s exciting stuff and most of the time it feels really positive to be moving forward like this, (and when it doesn’t, there’s always a wonderful clean slate called tomorrow.)
Here’s five minutes with David Holgrem (co-originator of the permaculture concept) on how we can change the world with permaculture thinking…what a lovely man 🙂
If you’re new to permaculture and not sure where to dive in, here’s a few places to kickstart a whole new way of thinking, living and celebrating life in general.
Permaculture Principles– I adore their yearly calendar. The pictures are inspirational, moon planting incredibly helpful and the little squares are big enough to scribble all your daily ‘stuff’.
Milkwood– whether it’s a hands on course or the goodness of online info.
Pip Magazine– Permaculture in a wonderful magazine format.