Saturday, May 16, 2015

What is Permaculture?

What is Permaculture? 

When I found Permaculture (2012ish), my life was forever changed. I had finally pushed aside the branches and stepped onto the path I had been searching for. A name had already been given to my carefully developing philosophy. Not only was there a name for this incredible collective of principals, ethics, and actions. There was this whole community of people, all over the world, who share a multitude of similar values, hobbies, and general way of life! I was immediately addicted to articles and videos labeled Permaculture. One amazing topic turned into the next. The tabs on my web browser piled up to the point where they were testing the limits of Firefox. 

So what the heck is Permaculture anyway? At its most basic, it is a set of simple ethics and principals (posts to come). The implications and applications of which could literally change the world. I'm talking reverse climate change and create a truly sustainable planet where all of the people, animals, plants, fungi, etc live completely healthy lives together. All of our needs; healthy whole food, water, housing, medicine, energy and so on, would be met. However answering the What is Permaculture question is not as simple. Since a lot of people have answered this question amazingly well, I will share some quotes to help define Permaculture. 

"Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way." - Graham Bell, The Permaculture Way

"Permaculture is about designing sustainable human settlements.  It is a philosophy and an approach to land use which weaves together microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soil, water management, and human needs into intricately connected, productive communities" - Bill Mollison (co-creator of Permaculture)

"The word permaculture was coined by Bill Mollison and myself in the mid-1970’s to describe an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man.

A more current definition of permaculture, which reflects the expansion of focus implicit in Permaculture One, is ‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.’ People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture." - David Holmgren (co-creator of Permaculture)

“Permaculture is not a thing. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a process of design. And the word Permaculture comes from permanent and agriculture. And it’s putting those things together & asking the question: Can we create a permanent agriculture? Not permanent in the sense of concrete, but permanent in the sense that it is built upon, and grounded in the resilient diversity of how ecosystems work. And it’s also a permanent culture, in the sense that culture can become something that is grounded in the real resilience of biology.” – Andrew Faust from the film Inhabit

“A conceptual framework and decision-making system, formalized to a large extent initially by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, that is aimed at the development of human systems fitting into more-than-human (“natural”) systems in synergistic ways such that the health of both is increased. Permaculture, in contrast to most gardening or farming views, yields as a logical side benefit of ecosystem partnering, not as a singular goal. In this way, permaculture doesn’t truly aim to grow “crops” but to promote vigor in whole systems.” - Ben Falk – The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Permaculture is applied common sense. Beyond sustainability. A design system that seeks to meet human needs while increasing human health. Interdependent in a way that benefits ecosystems. - Derived from my notes from a lesson led by the amazing Mark Krawcyzk, during the Whole Systems Skills Permaculture Design Course, July 2014. Other teachers and classmates participated in creating the list. 

Some of the subjects that turn us Permies (Permaculture Geeks) on are organic gardening/sustainable agriculture, biointensive gardening (mixed with healthy doses of Permaculture), holistic farming, holistic orchards, agroforestry aka food forests/forest gardens, guilds, water storage (swales, ponds, dams, cisterns, rainwater catchment, greywater, etc), hugelkultur, land restoration, alternative energy (solar, wind, hydro, biodiesel, wood burning stoves, biogas digesters, rocket mass heaters,
etc), natural building (and here) (earthbag, cob, earthships, wofati, etc), conservation,  bees and beneficial insects, rotational grazing, livestock and poultry, fungi, silviculture, silvopasture, coppice agroforestry, keyline design & plowing (moving water from valleys toward ridges)

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