What Is Permaculture?
Don’t ask me why, but I used to always get permaculture and permafrost confused. Still, often when I think of permaculture my mind immediately goes to that consistently frosty ground, and increasingly lack thereof, which is indicative of why many subscribe to the principles of permaculture.
The core tenets of permaculture, permanent agriculture, are:
1. Earth care—care for the earth and all of its living systems.
2. People care—care for yourself and others (individuals, families, and communities).
3. Fair share—take, have, and use only what you need, and when there is surplus, give to others and recycle resources back into the system.
Permaculture seeks to care for both people and environment by relying on certain design tools that follow the above principles. When permaculture began in the 1970s it was in reaction to an oil crisis and increasing food insecurity. The idea was that people can, and should, design their lives to be more sustainable, self-sufficient, community-driven, and simply easier on the planet’s ecosystems. Do any of those scenarios sound familiar now?
We have unparalleled crises of the environment: fossil fuels and their extraction at all cost, extreme poverty and global hunger, climate change, and a loss of old-fashioned self-sufficiency. Is permaculture an answer?
Top 5 Permaculture Practices For Home And Garden
Most of us will not uproot to take part in permaculture on a larger scale. Luckily the principles of permaculture can be put into practice in your own home and garden with a little time and thought.
1. Animals. Incorporate animals into your backyard garden. Chickens are great for eating bugs, providing eggs, and even fertilizer. Goats are great for weed control, converting inedible vegetation into milk, and more fertilizer. Mosquito eating fish are another interesting option if you have a backyard pond. Vegan permaculturalists may still incorporate animals as companions and for their non-edible contributions.
2. Green Building. When building, adding, or remodeling a home, or even just want to make a few green changes, an emphasis on sustainability works to keep the home more efficient while reducing waste. A major benefit to people is better indoor air quality specifically and a better living environment generally speaking. Green building is an area that could potentially add a lot of expense, but if done well could actually save money, especially in the long-term.
3. Rainwater Harvesting. Rain nurtures life, yet we do not actively work to capture the inherent use of rainwater. There are two schools of thought here: (1) Direct the rainwater to the areas of your garden that need the water and (2) Catch and store rainwater or gray water that would otherwise go into the storm drains to use as needed.
4. Thoughtful Gardening. Thoughtful gardening is a means of using what you have available in an efficient way to produce food for people and habitat for wildlife. Take care to plan your landscaping and home garden carefully to be attuned to natural patterns, needs of the land, and how it can be achieved through natural methods: sheet mulch, composting, sprout gardening, seed saving, observation, and education.
5. Waste Management. ”Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” It starts with bringing less into your home in the first place. It ends with using something until there is no more, reusing what is left, or finding someone who can and will. We should make the most of our resources and not let any go to waste.
Permaculture is an interesting and controversial subject. I agree we need to be more thoughtful about how we connect with one another and the natural world. I believe that many of the human and environmental issues we have could be alleviated if we were more observant of how our ecosystems interact and rely on one another.
Which of the permaculture principles do you already follow? Which would you like to include more of in your life and home?
Be sure to join in and follow the discussion on permaculture here and over at the headquarters for Change The World Wednesdays.