Permaculture is a hip word right now, but it has been around since the mid 1970s. Like clothing coming into fashion, permaculture is becoming more popular and is on the upward swing of the trendy curve. Find out why I’m learning more about this movement and how it can help you and others.
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What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is often synonymous with food forests. Type in Permaculture into YouTube and you will see lots and lots of videos for food forest tours, abundant permaculture farms and more.
Permaculture was a term developed by two Australians; David Holmgren and Bill Mollinson. It was derived from the words permanent agriculture and was how these two gentlemen were creating strategies for sustainable food growing methods.
Geoff Lawton is another name you will hear about with permaculture. He took over from Bill and has travelled the world teaching permaculture and redesigning barren landscapes. Geoff runs Zaytuna Farm in Australia, a working farm and teaching facility which utilized permaculture design principles and sustainable building and farming practices.
Permaculture is so much more than growing food whilst that is a big part of it. Permaculture now encompasses how humankind can live harmoniously and share yields (be those food, time, energy etc) with others in the community.
Reasons Why I’m Taking A Permaculture Design Course
Not only is there a lengthy course available (it’s over 12 weeks long) but it is close to where I live and it was also affordable!
It may seem a little far fetched and there is little in terms of controlled scientific study conducted on the growing methods but more and more people are turning to permaculture, and I want to get an understanding of why,
The New Jersey woods in summer.
I personally, have a strong bond with the wilderness and the forests. I used to live in woodland in New Jersey and as a child I spent hours in the woods nearby.
I lived with the racoons making off with my garbage here, being chased by a black bear, befriending chipmunks, feeding the bird in the dead of winter, watching the squirrels and hearing the owls right outside my bedroom.
The first American winter I experienced in New Jersey, 2013 with temperatures plummeting well below zero.
I cut cords of wood for the stove, hiked the woods with Sparky and Teddy by my side and investigated and explored all that I could in the woods. These are places I truly feel at home. I know the plants and their uses, the animal signs and tracks and I loved each moment of it.
Here in Utah, as a family we frequently head out with friends foraging for hops, rosehips and elderberries to make wine and beer for celebrations throughout autumn and winter.
My philosophy is ask before you take and never take more than you need. This is so we don’t disrupt the cycles present in the system.
Whilst foraging or hiking I love seeing the animals in the wild places and being in awe at the abundance of the forests which sustain microbes, fungi, insects, mammals, birds and plants. They are all interdependent upon one another and nature finds a way to maintain a balance to support all.
I want to know more about permaculture designing and implementing for spaces to understand how to work with nature and the landscape. I want to know how I can create food sources for people, plants and animals which have minimal input from people to maintain.
The western world is all about convenience, a set and forget lifestyle so to speak. From the thermostat to recording your favorite TV show we all want things to be easy. I believe that if you can create a bountiful garden like that; easy to make and look after, it is low maintenance, plant and forget until harvesting, more people would be inspired to grow food.
Nature Finds A Way
Nature strives to cover the ground in most places. The 1988 forest fire in Yellowstone National Park damaged vast areas and if you take a trip to it you can see the remnants of the destruction but also see the growth that has taken place since. The ash and char from the fire created a fertile landscape for recolonization of the plant species. Pinion pine cones will only open up to release their seeds after they have been exposed to fire. Evolution of plants and natural disasters is truly amazing.
Yellowstone National Park
Bare earth for example will colonize with weeds to stabilize the ground. Larger plants like shrubs and bushes will then become established as nutrients and water are fixed in the soil. Eventually trees will develop. Nature will always find a way.
An understanding of the local flora and fauna is an asset in helping you create gardens and food sources in your area. There is no point in trying to grow mangos outside if you live by the arctic circle for example! By knowing what naturally grows well, you can make informed decisions about the plants you grow.
I want to know how to read the land and how to design growing zones with will thrive for all involved; the microbiology, the pollinators and decomposers, the plants, the animals and the people.
I want to be able to share and teach people that they can do this too. I cannot have children who I can teach and pass this on to but, I can help an individual, a family, a neighborhood or a community. I see so many people who cannot afford food and there are so few community gardens and even backyards for people to grow and harvest their own.
There are some community food forests in Canada where people can come and forage or harvest fruit and vegetables more are starting in areas like Washington and Oregon.
Processed foods have lead to obesity epidemics, cardiovascular and neurological health problems and allergies. The addition of chemicals to maintain freshness and shelf stability of food and pesticides used in growing the food are having an impact on our bodies and genetics with each generation that passes. Whilst I have no genetic legacy, I want to do my part, no matter how small to help those future generations survive.
Healthy, nutrient dense food is a health insurance we all need and everybody can have it. Everybody can grow good, healthy food they just need to be shown how.
I’m hoping that in taking a certificated permaculture design course, I will be qualified to design food forests for communities and network with my peers to get involved with community activities to educate others.
I also hope that I can take what I learn in the course and apply it in new ways in my own backyard. To practice and learn what works in a small scale that can be expanded to work on a larger area for the benefit of all.
Growing Is Only The Beginning
Creating food forests and gardening are important in permaculture but are not the only part of it. From other green movements such as waste vegetable oil collection in a community and conversion to biodiesel, community gardens, trading and barter systems and so much more.
Change one backyard at a time with permaculture and it will cascade to changing a street or a neighborhood, then a town or city and beyond.
Do you practice permaculture? I would love to know in the comments how you use permaculture!
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