By Era Boyd: Restoration Orchard
Permaculture is the foundation of Land + Heart Project: our ethics, our goals, our collaborations, in theory and practice. What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a term coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren during their time developing this new system design, in 1974 at the University of Tasmania. Its pure definition means “permanent culture”: conscious design and maintenance of systems, the “harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” (Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison)
"The aim is to create systems that are ecologically-sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term." - Bill Mollison
Permaculture is also in part a collection of indigenous food forestry knowledge, from antiquity through today. These techniques work - they have been in use by earth-centered peoples around the world throughout human history. To those people and cultures still engaging in regenerative agriculture, and standing up to oppression and extraction, do we dedicate our work preserving land and uplifting the original land stewards.
This system design is focused on an overall holistic view into “assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all of its forms” (Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual). In short, this means honoring the aspects of not just the human species but every living form in the system, whether this is in agriculture, economics, sociology, or lifestyle. The permaculture designer of said system looks through the perception of many lives; interweaving and interlocking the needs, wants, and functions of each together: thus creating a holistic, resilient system of wholeness.
Permaculture is more than just gardening or farming…
It is a system of thoughtful intention, with adjustments over time to allow for the evolution of the system. This isn’t about a static one-time process, but a lifetime of interacting and evolving with the system itself. These design systems can be applied to law, socioeconomics, villages, cities, towns, communities, education, farming, gardening, space travel, climate disaster recovery, and so much more.
"Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system for city and country, using the smallest practical area." - Bill Mollison
At the foundation of permaculture exists three ethics: Earth Care, People Care, and Future Care. Thus expanding a permaculture designer’s impact to more than just their own. The permaculture system is designed to take care of the earth, the people of earth, and the future of both. Most designed systems (mostly non-intentional and thoughtless) exists to benefit one species, humans, or mostly one sector of the human species, corporations. Permaculture expands the system to include every impact of the system.
Why is this so important? Most of the current systems are taking more than the overall whole can handle. The continuation of these systems are and will lead to future generations living without and in massive desperation. It is time we take back from what has been given, and repair both the earth and humans in the design for what can be for our collective future, not what a small portion of the whole can gain.
The prime directive of permaculture: “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. Make it now.” - Bill Mollison
Yay! I agree wholeheartedly, now what do I do?
Permaculture takes these three ethics into even further consciousness in the 12 principles. These principles are:
Observe and Interact
Catch and store energy
Obtain a yield
Apply self regulation and accept feedback
Use and value renewable resources
Produce no waste
Design from patterns to details
Integrate rather than segregate
Small and slow solutions
Use and value diversity
Use edges and value the marginal
Creatively use and respond to change
These 12 principles can radically change the way one perceives, judges, and interacts with their environment. Our strongest, most powerful impact comes from within. By changing the way one lives, the impact expands further and further into the whole system. Begin engaging within yourself and challenging the thoughts and actions you perform everyday. Is what I am doing good for myself? The earth? Our collective future? If not, how can I make adjustments and evolve said thoughts and actions over time? This is not going to occur overnight, but through repeated action, determination, and discipline over time. You can do this. We, collectively, can do this for ourselves, our children and those that come after us. It takes one step, as we are capable, at a time.
“Permaculture gives us a toolkit for moving from a culture of fear and scarcity, to one of love and abundance.” - David Homgren
Please join us in the Puerto Rico Permaculture Solidarity Group to share your support and thoughts with the island and beyond!