What is Permaculture? It is an emerging concept in the natural food world, taking direct action to save the planet by growing food in many different ways. Permaculture is all about applying solutions and not whingeing away from the sidelines; it’s about being proud of your impact and your actions. Every permaculture project benefits everyone involved, no matter how little, and each individual who does something to promote the movement takes a step forward, regardless of how large or small.
What is Permaculture? Permaculture is an approach to gardening which involves the use of natural systems, which are renewable and replenishable in order to provide food for people, communities and organisations. This can mean growing fruit and vegetables in large amounts, utilizing wind turbines to power solar panels, growing wheat with hydroponics systems in the comfort of your own backyard, using wood from old growth forests to build a solar hot water system, growing herbs in pots and gardens, using stone for foundations and walls, and so much more. The goal with permaculture is not to grow as much food as possible, but to grow food in a way that is sustainable, to make the most of the land and to provide a free, quality form of health and beauty for those who grow it.
So why should you consider Permaculture for your home or your place of business? The truth is that Permaculture fits into just about anyone’s life if they plan it right. For the beginning permaculturist, starting small is easier than you might think, and you can always grow larger gardens later on as you get more comfortable with your gardening and food forest practices. For example, if you are creating a small food forest, a good starting point could be 30 square feet of gravel and peat moss with some wooden ladders and planters for climbing vines. In a year or two, you will have a self-sustaining food forest, with low maintenance, providing you with a great source of green energy, organic matter, and all the nutrients your body and heart needs.
The term “permaculture” actually means “forage farming” and it is based around building an intensive system that uses agricultural waste (farming waste) as a primary source of nourishment. A Permaculture garden is not a traditional garden, using soil, plants, flowers and shrubs. It is not “plant-based,” as many would mistakenly believe. Instead, it is an agricultural system that yields with an emphasis on animals (herds, sheep, goats, chickens, etc) as a primary source of food, as well as using all natural, renewable resources to create a self-sustaining food forest.
Humans are a part of the Permaculture lifestyle because their ancestors developed the methods of producing food that Permaculture practitioners employ today. The first Permaculture gardens were set up on an island in the Pacific Ocean somewhere between Hawaii and San Francisco, as early Permaculture enthusiasts learned about the natural fertilizers, bug killers, and other natural products that could sustain their lifestyle without the help of artificial products. These early gardens are the forerunners of today’s organic and sustainable food production techniques. Today, Permaculture gardens and farms continue to evolve as people learn more about the environment and how they can improve it. Organic agriculture continues to grow in popularity, which has paved the way for expanded use of Permaculture principles in areas such as urban development, water conservation, and even the design of our houses. These are just some of the Permaculture principles being implemented more in today’s residential landscape design.
So, how do you start Permaculture? Well, the first principle you should follow is the use of what is called ” grids.” grids are simply circles or squares made up of interlocking shapes and Permaculture practitioners call them ” grids because they help the produce to thrive.” The use of proper grids will help your plants grow as good as possible and will also help conserve water sources.
The next Permaculture principle is called “system thinking.” This principle is also referred to as “peripheral innovation.” It refers to a method of designing a home and lifestyle that is in tune with the environment so that low cost energy is used as much as possible and waste management is done as little as possible. For example, Permaculture practitioners believe that passive solar design is the best way to build a low cost, passive solar home.
The final Permaculture principle that you should be familiar with is “system thinking” again, this refers to the belief that low cost and high comfort are directly connected. By designing a home and lifestyle that is in tune with the Permaculture principles of low cost energy and water conservation we are able to achieve a comfortable and cost efficient living while at the same time enjoying all the comforts of home. Now, wouldn’t you agree, this type of lifestyle would make life much easier and enjoyable? Indeed it would, something that the Permaculture movement is very good at.