As my Permaculture Training at Zaytuna comes to an end, I am choosing this time to reflect on possibly one of the most influential periods of my life. An opportunity to dive into Permacuture head first, to breath, eat and feel a Permaculture demonstration site in action. Nothing has ever made me feel more alive, more exhausted and given me a greater sense of urgency.
In our Zaytuna farm time capsule, time feels like it is passing faster than ever. Weeks feel like days, but at the same time like years. How can that be? Possibly because we are actively engaged in our own survival, we are working to sustain our self, there is no counting the minutes until the day is done, our actions immediately affect our eating habits and our communal atmosphere. We are learning that what we put in is what we get back. This makes time lose its meaning and importance, seasons on the other hand become the cycle which dictates our actions.
As the greedy corporate world grips tighter every day around our necks we need to create and engage communities in serious conversations. We need to learn and pass on to others the skills which will empower and make us reevaluate what we truly want our lives, and that of future generations, to be filled with. The corporate Meat, Oil and Banana Industries are all the same, built on blood and unethical behavior, damaging our planet and the life inhabiting it. Once we realize that what we consume is the root cause of suffering and degradation of our planet, we also realize the power that comes with becoming independent from it, and once infected, like Geoff says, it sure is terminal. I now feel like I can never go back. A door in my being was kicked down and will never be reattached to its hinges.
Every time I eat meat now I have no choice but to do it consciously. I am more aware than ever before in my life that I am eating another being, a being which I have moved day in day out to new grass. A living beautiful strong animal which I have built a relationship with and whose respect I have gained. I don’t get away with unconscious eating habits anymore. Meat becomes something very special, something where I feel gratitude and grace every time I eat it. Without fail.
Our other eating patterns are dictated by eating seasonally nutritious diversity which only ends up on our plates if we go out to pick it, composting and growing trees on our nutritious waste instead of flushing it away with drinking water. Drinking rain water which tastes rich and light with no trace of chlorine, leaving us feeling alive and awake, not sick and tired.
Sometimes my days are involved with watching the water flow passively through the land by means of the Swales after a big rain event, or jumping into paradise dam on a hot day after setting up a new cow paddock. Watching how land, which is hydrated through and through, can be like a big living sponge cycling nutrients from one pocket to the next, everything connected and interacting through ways which are simple but yet so complicated. This reminds me how it is just the same as in our own bodies what we put in it and on it, circles, spreads, nourishes, passes and then returns to the soil.
I have been learning to see the world through pink design goggles; learning to see where dams and Swales could wrap around a landscape as sensual as a scarf around a woman’s neck. How the functions of the layers in a food forest are just as plentiful as the layers itself, and how the impact of earthworks and land care can make life flourish and bring nourishment to communities. We all know that basic nourishment is not available to many of us, but it doesn’t have to be that way, permaculture gives us the answers, like Geoff says all the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.
Living in a community of people who are all somehow driven to swim slowly but consistently against the current, seeing what these people can do together, working together implementing incremental changes. Not just to the land but to our own patterns of behavior, realizing how we are learning to become more tolerant, more consistent and more clear with each other. On the other hand, seeing the still existing challenges of attitudes and different ethics persisting, this is eye opening to our true challenges taking responsibility for our presence in a space shared with others is one of life’s biggest challenges. How can we expect people to do this without any practice? How can we know the difference if they have not experienced it?
Living this life, here at Zaytuna, makes me forget that often “out in the real world” where making money and paying bills is the priority, we are encouraged and conditioned to be concerned only with our self and maybe the people closest to us. At courses, I am reminded (Permaculture course or not) that many people come only to learn for their own personal gain; possibly because they might not know how much more rewarding it is to strive for a greater good. I urge you to reconsider your life purpose, if you think of the bigger picture and take responsibility for your part in it, there really is no other way but to act. We are experiencing the biggest storms the earth has ever seen. The Amazon is running black with oil due to more and more burst oil pipes. Brazil faced the biggest mining disaster in its history, and the list could go on and on. How much more will it take for us to realize that, yes WE are all the cause of this.
Whichever way you think you can contribute to change for a more sustainable future, make the leap, say good bye to the old systems and create your own! Become a teacher and a student, connect with your community, trade and share, grow your own food, down scale, become an aid worker who wants to make himself redundant! Advocate for the planet, become an inspirational speaker.
Contribute however you want, but don’t wait for somebody else to do it for you, please become active before it is too late. It is OUR conscious effort, we need to strive together towards creating systems which produce more energy than they consume, and do this with dignity and ethics. Instead of joining and feeding the existing systems which rely heavily on the corporate industries, lets strip them of their powers by not buying their oil, their gas, or their poisoned food. This is what I believe is necessary.
Permaculture stands for a lot, the expectations are huge, the amount most people want to give is variable. I urge people to tell it as it is, yes we have to make this the norm, but let’s speak about the successes and the failures so we can learn from both, let’s not sweet talk it, it is hard work. It demands commitment and it demands from you to let go of the “I”. We are living on this earth, the plants the animals and all other life deserves for you to give up that “I”, that seems to be so big these days.
I believe it is not just our climate and planet suffering due to our egocentric attitude. It is also our own mental health. When I struggle, it often stems from a lack of connection; disconnection is a root cause of our growing physical and psychological health issues. We were all born with the want to deeply connect, but we are often raised to know no different way but disconnection. Permaculture is a Design science but I feel that if we apply it correctly we are automatically forging a deeper connection to the land which we live on and therefore to ourselves. On my journey in Permaculture I have met people who felt they would not be here anymore if it was not for permaculture giving them a sense of connection and hope. Imagine if we could solve growing mental health problems and climate change simultaneously. If we were connected, if we made forming true connection to each other and nature a priority we would have no choice but to also act on the injustice done towards our planet as we would see it as injustice done towards ourselves.
Permaculture runs the risk of creating the misconception that you let nature do it all. We need to see and feel as a part of nature. We are currently the most self-destructive part of ourselves, so we should expect of ourselves to have to do most of the work, but still many are waiting to be handed everything on a silver platter. Let’s own the right to continue being a part of this eco system. Permaculture is the peaceful revolution that we need, it is simple but yet requires us to sacrifice much of our own ego and identity, it encourages us to transform our values and ethics and reconnects us to what is real.
Necessity, I believe, is the biggest catalyst for change. It will be necessary for all of us to change sooner or later, if we want to or not. We have created our own deserts, our own tidal waves, our own floods and droughts. We are losing land to the ocean, and our health to the big agricultural industries, which are creating the desertification of what used to be some of the most fertile lands. These lands where our ancestors lived and where our children will live.
Be aware that you too are a part of this, you are the catalyst changing the land whether you are aware of it or not, land that you will surely return to one day, in one form or another.