A lot of folks are unfamiliar with the term “permaculture” which has its roots in two different word combinations: permanent+agriculture (meaning sustainable agricultural practices) and permanent+culture (meaning a way for people live sustainably). Here is a short explanation of permaculture from local instructor and practitioner Rhonda Baird.
Imagine a world of natural abundance, clean water and air, and community connection. Permaculture, an ethical system of design which reintegrates the human world with the natural world, helps us regenerate our landscapes—both physical and cultural. By understanding and working with natural systems we can repair the damage done to our planet over the past centuries—including re-foresting deserts, repairing soil, cleaning water and air, and increasing farm productivity through regenerative practices.
Permaculture comes out of systems theory (understanding how systems work) and also integrates information from many different traditions (indigenous wisdom, nature awareness traditions, horticultural traditions, forestry, and many other streams of knowledge). Permaculturists work to design gardens, farms, homes, communities, and even cities that enhance both the human world and the natural world. These designs help us live within the limits of our planet while strengthening our communities. Permaculture practitioners and teachers around the globe have been at the forefront of sustainability education, relief efforts, and landscape scale regeneration.
Permaculture is based on three core ethics:
Care of the Land—This is the highest priority. If we don’t take care of the land and heal it, it will not provide for us. When we repair the soil, conserve and clean water, promote biodiversity, and create new opportunities for things to happen, we serve the land and allow it to support life to its fullest.
Care of People—Permaculture is quite clear that our goal is to take care of people. When we meet our needs—our real needs for belonging, security, participation, creative expression, autonomy, and so on—resilient communities will emerge.
Distribution of Surplus—We learn from nature that when an abundance of something is present, it quickly disperses to where there is lack—so that movement toward equilibrium takes place. The same is needed in our cultivated systems. Too much of anything in one place will make for disorder and pollution.
Beyond these core ethics, permaculture works with principles. David Holmgren delineated 12 of them:
- Observe and Interact
- Catch and Store Energy
- Get a Yield
- Self-Regulate and Accept Feedback
- Use and Value Renewable Services and Resources
- Produce No Waste
- Design from Patterns to Detail
- Integrate Rather than Segregate
- Use Small and Slow Solutions
- Use and Value Diversity
- Use Edges and Value the Marginal
- Creatively Use and Respond to Change
See www.permacultureprinciples.com for more information.