What is Permaculture?
“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”
The term permaculture is a portmanteau of “Permanent” and “Agriculture”, and “culture”. It began with a focus on the production of a sustainable food system, but grew into so much more over time, encompassing economic and social systems as well. The movement is dynamic, all-encompassing and still growing to this day. It is a very simple idea that is spreading world wide. It is living holistically, in perfect harmony with nature. Any system that provides for its own energy needs, is inherently sustainable. This same concept can be extended beyond things like biodiesels and solar powers.
The permaculture movement calls for many different things, different ways of planting and growing your foods. For example, it suggests using only plants that are planted only once, perennial crops, rather than things that need constant tillage. Tilling the ground is terrible for the soil. Along with that, permaculture encompasses the mantra of “working with, rather than against nature”. This is carried out by simple things, such as planting mashua under locust trees. Locust trees add nitrogen to the soil, while mashua needs a support structure to grow on. You won’t need to build a trellis for the vines, and the locust trees provide shade and protection for the vines while also serving as a nectar source for much-needed bees.
The origins of the movement
Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist and professor, created the permaculture movement in the 1970’s. He was disgusted by the destruction of nature he saw going on around him, as his interests in nature and wildlife drew him into observing how natural systems work. He decided to do something about it, rather than sitting around being upset. The solution he arrived at, would be humans living in such a way that mirrored the patterns he saw in nature. He observed how all these natural systems are sustainable by themselves, without outside intervention, and how all the parts work together to create a perfect working ecosystem. To this day, the permaculture movement is continuing to grow, and people learn of it through work shops and design courses.
Who can practice permaculture?
Anybody! Permaculture is a comprehensive, dynamic system and can be practiced in many different ways, at many different levels. You don’t need to be a master gardener, or know everything about growing plants or how to build special equipment. You can start living a life led by permaculture no matter what your skill level. It allows you to get your feet wet first, learning as you go. Not only that, but you have a massive community behind you that will be of great use to you. Living off the land, working for yourself and your family and living a simple and holistic life is all there really is to permaculture.