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What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a way of designing human settlements and agricultural systems to mimic the relationships found in natural ecosystems.
Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on:
Permaculture aims to:
Create stable and productive systems without creating further destruction to ecosystems
These systems are designed to provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land and all its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the approach to creating regenerative human systems.
Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure.
Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another.
In permaculture, there are only positive externalities!
Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from
Dense urban settlements, Individual homes, Farms or Entire regions.
Permaculture is our next evolutionary step and it is time for us all to start the interesting journey.
The ethics of permaculture are what make it different from other systems.
Ethics are very important for a society to function correctly. We have some good examples of ethics which we can base our permaculture ethics on, like the golden rule, 'Do unto others as you would have them do to you.' or Common Law which states, 'Do no harm, do not steal, and act respectfully to others.' and though these are great they do not quite go far enough. These merely deal with the interaction of people with each other. For our society to function properly, however, we need to go one step further and include the rest of the planet, its environments and all the other living elements. Mollison came up with three simple ethics which include what people and the planet need to get along sustainably.
Without ethics in science, industry, agriculture and general human behaviour, the problems we have created in the past will continue now and into the future and the road we will be travelling will be the one to our own extinction. It is up to us to help start setting the standards so that we can move globally into the new permaculture world.
All life should be allowed to live and thrive in their environments. It is our duty to protect soil, sea, atmosphere, forest, natural habitats and water. In looking after where we live, our home, it becomes so much easier to look after ourselves sustainably
FAIR SHARE or redistribution of abundance. We live in a world of finite resources. We can no longer simply be takers, a parasite on this planet. We must be willing to give back to the system that supports us. An energy exchange that only happens in one direction is not sustainable. Fair share is the overseeing of the first 2 ethics of permaculture the double check that we are doing it correctly.
We are, as an indigenous species on this planet, entitled to our footprint, we should be able to take what we need to sustain ourselves. We are entitled to all the food, water, shelter and education that the planet can easily provide for us if we are able to manage ourselves properly
1. OBSERVE AND INTERACT
The first of the permaculture principles promotes a deeper understanding of earth care. Permaculture depends on the understanding you have of your garden and the local conditions. Many recommend devoting an entire year to observing your garden and the influence nature has on it. At the end of this year, you will understand the changing microclimates of your patch of land as well as how the wind, weather and slope affect the growth of plants. If you are running low on time, however, a short but thorough assessment of your garden and local conditions will do. Evaluate the intrinsic qualities of your land and visit your neighbours’ gardens to see what you could grow on your own. Observing and interacting with your surroundings will improve your permaculture design skills.
2. CATCH AND STORE ENERGY
The second of the permaculture principles consists of collecting resources when they are abundant so that you can use them when they are available. This can mean building a well-placed greenhouse to keep plants warm and provide passive solar heat for your house and other buildings. But this principle, much like permaculture itself, extends beyond merely catching the sunlight. It also entails harvesting rain and greywater for irrigation and canning food that lasts you thourgh winter. Ideally you will be able to capture water, sunlight, heat, biomass and other resources so you can become more self-reliant
3. OBTAIN A YIELD
A permaculture garden is more than just a pastime and pretty flowers. It is an edible landscape! Its primary purpose is to provide food for you in an ecologically harmonious way. However, permaculture gardens are not just for yielding crops. At its core, permaculture seeks to change our lives for the better. So yields can also be intangible, like building strong community links through community gardens and teamwork. Maybe your yield is developing a school garden so your young ones learn to love and value nature early on. Wisdom, enthusiasm, creativity and things like seeds and growing techniques are all yields!
4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION AND ACCEPT FEEDBACK
The fourth of the permaculture principles entails behaving like your generations, past, future and present are one entity. A continuum, it means cherising the valuable lessons of your ancestors and evaluating their choices to see how you can improve upon them. It also means planting perennials and enriching the soil as well as recording your experience with permaculture so all the future generations can reap and enjoy the fruits of your garden. Finally, accepting feedback is acknowledging everything we have done wrong and remedy our mistakes and those of our ancestors
5. USE AND VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES AND SERVICE
When alive, fruit trees produce fruits, nuts and seeds. They give shade and their falling leaves enrich the soil. These trees filter the air and release oxygen, and when they die, their decomposing wood goes back to the soil and their trunks can be the home of animals and plants. This is what permaculture relies upon, using renewable resources to make your garden self-sustaining. Conserve the properties of your soil by planting perennials or annuals and build ecological infrastructure that allows you to collect energy, water and other resources
6. PRODUCE NO WASTE
One of the core permaculture principles. In a permaculture garden, there is no waste. Everything gets reused and recycled. This saves you tonnes of money and it saves the planet from dealing with your garbage! You can put this permaculture principle to work by engaging in red worm composting. This method uses your organic waste and transforms it in nutrients for your soil. As noted by Timberpress.com this is a complete life cycle. You grow and harvest your crop, eat it, then put it in the worm bin and it goes back to your plants as a fertiliser
7. DESIGN FROM PATTERN TO DETAILS
This is a compilation of all the other permaculture principles. First of all, inform yourself before engaging in the permaculture principle. Secondly, move from the bigger inwards, not the opposite. Work on how to make the transition into sustainable living and then start tweaking the details. Apply all the previous permaculture principles in designing your garden
8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE
Nature does not separate plants and neither should you! Placing different plants together helps them grow healthy and in cooperation rather than competition. Your garden is supposed to be greater than the sum of its parts and this is only possible through integration. But, the permaculture principles are not only for plants. Humans do not need hard edges set by religion, politics and cultural elements. Cultural diversity makes for a fertile culture
9. USE SMALL AND SLOW SOLUTIONS
Putting a band-aid on a serious injury will not stop you from bleeding. Similarly, seeking quick umbrella fixes for your permaculture problems will not make them go away. Your permaculture garden should be comprised of many small parts that work together in harmony. As mentioned, in other permaculture principles, planting perennials may be your solution for soil erosion. Furthermore, use small local solutions instead of industrial ones. Think of community gardens, regional seed libraries and local produce swaps
10. USE AND VALUE DIVERSITY
Biodiversity creates healthy ecosystems. We believe them and so should you. Placing different plants in close proximity makes your entire garden more resilient to climate change and other ecological challenges such as pests. So be a smart gardener and incorporate new plants into your garden every year along with the old ones
11. USE EDGES AND VALUE THE MARGINAL
This principle is key to implementing other permaculture principles. Think outside the box and use all the space available! Have fun with the patters you choose for your garden. For example, you can maximise the use of space and edges with mandala and keyhole beds, or use your garden walls to plant vines and heat-loving plants, like beans and melons. They will provide shade for your home in the summer and let in light during winter. It will also help soften the edge between your house and your garden if that is what you are aiming for
12. CREATIVELY USE AND RESPOND TO CHANGE
The last of the permaculture principles, but not least important. In nature, things can change from season to season. The permaculture gardener must adapt to shifting weather patterns, pests and other external forces and come up with creative solutions. In Permaculture, there are no mistakes, only lessons!
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