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.
International Permaculture Day
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.
Happy Permaculture Day! What a great post… Thanks for sharing these ideas and thoughts. I also Love the calendar – my favourite of all time – other christmas gifts get relinquished to the loo – this one is in the kitchen to inspire me. Love the Milkwood blog and PIP for great inspirations too. Just heading out to he farmers markets to replenish the fridge, and allowing the rain to do it’s fair share in the garden today 🙂
Ahh, beautiful rain. There hasn’t been a whole lot of that round here recently. It’s been a long time since going to sleep with the sounds of droplets on the roof….anyway, I digress. Permaculture, yep, pretty awesome stuff isn’t it.
Very interesting bits and pieces to ponder Brydie. I haven’t read Pip magazine but I think I might have to track it down.
Get a subscription happening Jane. Four times a year it comes out and it’s a wonderful read.
Great post , thanks
You’re welcome Bella 🙂
Connected living. Yesterday was too wet to do anything in the garden but that, in and of itself, was another link in the connected living chain. The only real power that we, as humans, have, is to choose how we react to any given situation that arises. Choosing to react in ways that connect us to our surroundings and the earth and do minimal damage whilst doing what we can, where we can to repair and enhance our little patch is part of that connected chain. We all play a part. No matter how big, small, enslaved or free we are. If we make our choices sustainably, we are creating more links in that chain. The more people start adding, the bigger and better that chain is going to get and like the internet, the more connected we are able to become and a connected community is a strong one. Happy Permaculture day Ms C 🙂
Wise words Ms Narf, as they always are. x
LikeLiked by 1 person
Such a great post Brydie. Very timely, yay for bending like a reed! Reading the principles for permaculture and connected living makes me yearn for a proper garden. One day I’ll get myself a compost heap and some chickens, a proper little ecosystem with a veggie plot! Thanks for sharing your ideas and encouraging us to ‘live better’. I’ll be sharing this post xx
I have to say Laura it’s wonderful finely having those things (well minus the chooks) but you can still tap into those things elsewhere you just have to think outside the box a little. Start with compost, a community compost…somewhere, something, is probably aching to get started…cafe, school, community garden. I’ve got a gorgeous friend who is converting her neighbours to open up all their teeny, tiny backyards, and converting the spaces into community gardens and chook run. Love it.
I love the concept of permaculture. I have a friend whose son was about to start a permaculture course as that was all he ever wanted to do. Very sadly I had to attend his funeral yesterday where much was mentioned of his love of permaculture xx
Oh Charlie, that’s terrible. No words can offer any kind solace to that….
Maybe someone that the son knew will be able to carry on that love for permaculture in a different way for him.
Such a great post! I love the 12 principles that you’ve outlined that Permaculture is based on, they’ve really got me thinking and interested to learn more.
Hi I’m intrigued by the dog poo and worm tower. Please tell me more. We have a Newfie and Jack Russell, the dog poo is substantial but I didn’t know I could feed it to the worms! I’ve looked at loads of dog food types (raw, raw dried, etc. etc.) and am currently feeding Orijen which they love, has improved their coats and general activity and costs an arm and a leg. There is a very good website http://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk which if you are feeding your dogs proprietary food is a wonderful resource.
You definitely can feed it to the worms. You can do a traditional worm farm and pop it in there. I wasn’t super keen on that due to at some point I’ll have to empty it. Most advice I’ve read is that you don’t put on your edible garden though. What I’m doing is a simple in built (in the ground) worm tower or worm hotel. If you google worm tower and then images, you’ll have a whole heap of them come to see what I mean. Mine is not within a garden where I will ever be putting edibles and it all seems to be working well at this stage.