…A Personal View
Practical permaculture is about designing sustainable human environments based on the models of natural ecosystems. A truly wild area keeps itself going without ploughing & digging, additions of fertilisers or fallow periods. It can provide food and shelter to a bewildering variety of animals, insects and micro-organisms. A permaculture designer will look to the principles behind such natural systems and the relationships within them to create as self-supporting a design as possible. Permaculture can be applied at any level. At Green Matters we are looking at the level of the home garden or small-holding but the principles work equally well for large farms, villages, towns or cities.
I like to think of Permaculture as a pair of rose-tinted spectacles through which to view the world. From the global to the local to the personal, permaculture has helped me make sense of the world in all its awesome beauty and gives me hope about solutions being found for all of its serious problems. By looking at problems with the ‘permaculture-tinted’ spectacles it is often the case that the problem becomes a solution.
Permaculture provides an umbrella to draw together many aspects of life that make sense to me. Such as organic growing, fair trade, thinking globally & acting locally, environmental issues, recycling, alternative energy, slow food, farmer’s markets, local communities, life work balance, working more efficiently and so working less, using less energy (both your own and fossil fuels). For me, it is about improving my quality of life at the same time as trying to be part of the solution to big issues like climate change and expensive oil rather than part of the problem.
The word Permaculture was coined in the 1970’s by two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holgrem and is a contraction of “Permanent Agriculture” or “Permanent Culture”. There are, of course, examples throughout the world of peoples who have never heard of permaculture but have lived the methods it espouses for centuries – from the indigenous peoples of tropical rain forests to Hunza’s living high in the Himalayas to the Chagga tribes of Tanzania. We don’t have to live like them but we can learn from them as to how to step more gently on the planet within the context of our own culture.