If you have any interest in farming, agriculture, gardening or homesteading, you’ve probably heard the word “permaculture.” Practitioners aim to create landscapes that meld with the natural topography, thus making changes mutually beneficial to humankind and nature.
But if you’re unfamiliar with the practice, you might be wondering — what is permaculture? It probably seems like a complex concept — and while it’s certainly not as easy as picking and planting greenery, it’s something that will make your life simpler and more sustainable when you grasp how it works. You’ll have to study up on permaculture rules and practices before trying to implement it in your backyard or on your farm. However, the results will be worthwhile, as both you and the planet will benefit from your thoughtful landscaping.
Not sure how to learn about permaculture? Here are six techniques for honing your expertise in this eco-friendly practice.
1. Read Up
You can start your permaculture pursuits by reading books on the topic. The Permaculture Association, for one, suggests its top 10 books on the subject. In addition to reading through the news archive, you can probably find additional material to check out at your local library. Plus, experts post their best tips online in blogs and downloadable PDFs. Gathering up all these resources and mining them for the tenets of permaculture will build a great foundation for your practice.
2. Take a Course
Not everyone does well when studying solo. To further your learning, you can enroll in a permaculture-centric course and have an educator outline the basics for you. Better yet, you can often find free courses online — Oregon State University has one taught by an expert in the field.
You can sign up for traditional, in-person courses, too. Sometimes, you’ll find that classes are immersive — you’ll have the chance to work on a permaculture project together to hone the skills you’ve read about in books.
3. Find a Mentor
Perhaps your interest in permaculture was piqued by a local eco-friendly installation. Find out who planted the garden and see if the person would be willing to serve as your mentor. You can also offer to help them with a project — volunteering can introduce you to the basic skills you need to be a permaculturist, too.
On that note, if you hone your craft under a mentor’s wing, be sure to pay it forward. Once you have mastered permaculture, take on those who also want to learn the skill. It’ll only do good for the planet, which is probably why you started in the first place.
If you’re unable to find a mentor in person, why not follow the work of a prominent sustainability researcher, speaker or expert? Attending events or finding online lectures where experts speak on the future evolution of food and farming is another way to dip your feet into the expansive world of permaculture and its connection to other environmental efforts.
4. Visit a Greenhouse
Your local gardening professionals probably know a thing or two about permaculture. Even if they haven’t studied the subject, they can point you to the plants that are native to your climate zone. Choosing plants that thrive naturally makes sense if you want to become a permaculturist — the entire practice hinges upon landscaping that fits with nature.
5. Start a Community Project
Another way to learn permaculture is to try it yourself. Sure, it’ll be a learn-as-you-go process, but you’ll pick up the basics faster if you’re trying them out in real life.
Starting a community garden is one of the best ways to flex the permaculture skills you’ve studied. Once you have land for your project, get together with others and plan a permaculture-friendly landscape. Some neighbours might want a produce-yielding garden, while others simply hope for something that adds natural beauty to the neighbourhood. You can combine all those elements with permaculture, so work together to create something that suits everyone — and the earth, too.
6. Practice in Your Backyard
On that note, your backyard could be a great place for you to put your studies into practice. If you have the green space, why not try your hand at permaculture on your own property first? As you would with a community garden, delineate your goals for such a project. Do you want a functioning fruit and vegetable garden, or do you want something that’s aesthetically pleasing and sustainable? Once you have a vision, implement it with the eco-friendly principles you’ve learned thus far.
Why Is Permaculture Important?
Maybe you need a final push to pursue your permaculture project. If so, keep in mind that it will help lead us toward sustainable food production. If permaculture becomes the norm, agricultural production won’t damage the earth or wipe it of its resources. Instead, thoughtful planting methods and crop choices will ensure the soil retains its nutrients and that the planet remains fruitful for generations to come. Permaculture can be beautiful, too. If you simply want to spruce up your yard, you can feel good about your eye-catching natural design as well as its eco-friendliness.
Brush up on your skills and reap the mutually beneficial advantages that come with permaculture design. With the skills and environmental knowledge to create sustainable environmental systems, you’ll learn more about the planet, our food sources and how to create a more eco-friendly future for all.