Happy International Permaculture Day!
The theme of this year's International Permaculture Day is "In Support of Soils!"
We have gone over some aspects of caring for and creating soil in our landscapes; 2015 Year of the Soils, building Compost Bins and making Compost. But many of you might be thinking...
What exactly is Permaculture?Permaculture is a Design Science, based on Ethics and Observation, that strives to integrate Systems that provide for every Human need, in a way that benefits the Environment.
The term Permaculture (Permanent + Agriculture, later Permanent + Culture) was invented by Bill Mollison, an Australian biologist/ecologist, researcher and author and his student David Holmgren as they wrote Permaculture One and later Permaculture, A Designers' Manual. I'm sure they were influenced by these previous works, Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith, Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution and P.A. Yeomans' Water for Every Farm and his observation based keyline design.
The primary directive of Permaculture is this:
The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for own existence and that of our children. - Bill Mollison
There is something very basic to our human existence, a need of taking responsibility for ourselves, and a longing to provide for our future generations. What more is there, than taking care of one's self, our families and our posterity? As permaculturalists, we realize that these are all interrelated, that each need fulfilled comes from somewhere else that needs an accounting. Did my interaction provide a benefit or a detriment to my ecosystem. This leads into the three ethics.
The Three Ethics
Care for the Earth Care for People Return of Surplus
The ethics are the driving principles behind the Permaculture movement. Care for the Earth and all life is the first principle, because without a healthy planet, humans cannot flourish. The next is care for people, providing access to resources necessary for their existence. Finally, return of surplus to the previous two. Surplus can be an abundance of food crops or materials to share with others, but also waste products that need to be reused or recycled. This can be selling your extra produce to purchase needed items for you operation, or maybe vegetable scraps that can be used to feed chickens.
12 Design PrinciplesThese design principles are to be used when planning to make the most use of smaller changes, stack functions from and across different sectors, and to take into account all of the energy inputs and outputs.
Here is how David Holmgren presented the design principles in in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:
- Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
So what does Abundant Design have to do with Permaculture?I am nearing completion of my Permaculture Designers Certificate Course through PermaEthos Farm, of which I am also a Founding Member. I will leave you with a quote from one of the adjunct instructors.