What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a philosophy and practice of ecological design, utilizing techniques that work with the natural systems to maximize efficiency using he least amount of energy. In Permaculture we have four core Ethics and 12 Principles.
Ethics of Permaculture
Earth Care –
Caring for the planet means being mindful of all living things, not exploiting resources, consuming less, eating organic, learning your local ecosystem while being aware of your impact globally. It includes working with the land, animals, humans and plants, in a respectful/mindful/intentional way that we actually regenerate the systems instead of depleting them.
We have to shift our focus from being SUSTAINABLE to being REGENERATIVE…
What is the difference?
Sustaining or being sustainable means only doing the bare minimum to keep going the way you are going, not getting any better and not getting any worse. If we continue to be sustainable, the planet will fall into further collapse.
Regeneration on the other hand plays an active role in making the systems better, helping to heal them and helping them to thrive… critical systems such as the soil, water, air, flora/fauna, social structures, language, culture, medicinal traditions. All of these are in danger currently as our liberal global economy strives to gain more and more wealth.
So you may ask, “How do I regenerate?”
Here are some simple steps you can take…
- COMPOST all the organic material that comes out of your home. This gets methane and nitrogen producing organic waste out of landfill and back into the soil, participating in the carbon-nitrogen cycle as it was meant to.
- If you have the capability, retrofit your home to divert the grey water from your sink and shower back into your landscape, this will get water out of the chemical processing cycle and back into the hydrological cycle… maybe you live in an apartment, collect all the water from your running shower, while you are waiting for it to heat up in a large bucket and use that to wash your dishes or water your plants.
- Either upgrade and invest in a solar system for your home OR opt into a renewable energy plan with your local provider. Many now have renewable options such as wind, geothermal and solar. IE In Philadelphia you can opt in to paying just a few dollars more for wind energy.
- Learn a new language… for those of you reading this, it is obviously in English, but many of us have a native language that our grandparents or most likely great grandparents spoke. It is never too late to learn that language and share it with the younger generations.
- Plant TREES and PLANTS that are native to your area. Do some research and find out what the landscape looked like BEFORE it was colonized! You can make seed bombs out of clay and some local seeds and participate in an act of peaceful protest by bombing vacant lots, parks and other green spaces with native flowers. These will attract pollinators, critical to the food cycle. If you can plant a tree, plant as many as you can, preferably native species and fruit trees, these will not only help reduce carbon emissions, but they cool the area, attract other wildlife, build and protect the soil and provide inspiration to those who come into contact with it.
- Think about your own body… some resources get better with use, some are not effected and some degrade. What can you regenerate in yourself? Maybe you have not been breathing as deeply as you should, or have not been as active. Make a regular plan to do just 15-20 minutes of light exercise to keep your muscles, joints, tendons ligaments and cardiovascular system toned. Feel foggy? Overworked and stressed… simps things like a crossword puzzle while you eat breakfast instead of Facebook, or make a dedication to read an article a day. Whatever it is to keep your mind learning.
People Care –
People care refers to creating healthy social structures, available education, affordable housing, healthy food, safe working environment and fair pay.
As an herbalist this is obvious to me, we are in service to our families and communities, to bring preventative health care and healing to those in need.
As Permaculturists, we have the ability to grow healthy and abundant food! One of the principles of Permaculture is Obtain a Yield.. what our neighbor, RIP, Paid used to say… “I plant for myself, I plant for the animal and I plant for the thief”… add a patois accent to that statement… and that is what we mean by obtaining a yield. Every fruit tree you plant is going to most likely produce more than you and your family can ever eat… So by obtaining a yield we can redistribute that resource, by putting access at the end of your driveway in a free box, or bringing it to a food bank, or throwing it in the woods for the animals to eat.
There are other things you can do to Care for People…
- Get rid of stuff! The a serious inventory of your closet and go through and give away the items that you know you don’t need/want. You can give to Salvation Army, to a women’s shelter, to a homeless shelter or to a underprivileged school. Start a clothing drive in your community in the Fall to get stuff ready for the Winter when many are in most need.
- Food drive… my sister throws a Yule party each year and she asks that every person bring a non-perishable food item, which she then donates to a local food bank. This is easy and you can do the same. Every time you invite people over, ask them to do the same… and maybe it isn’t food, maybe it is coats, school supplies, shoes, old electronics that still work, etc…
- Take classes to learn first aid, CPR, Wilderness First Responder, etc…
Fair Share –
This speaks to the dire need for a balanced distribution of food, wealth, housing, land resources, educational opportunities, equal opportunity, health care, etc…
Recognizing mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationships, working with alternate economies, local economies, buying fair trade commodities, and shy away best we can from multinational corporations when making your purchases. With Fair Share we make sure every human being, land resource, wild space, animal, mineral and plant has its essential rights met, as are all recognized as sentient brings.
So how can you contribute to Fair Share?
- Buy Fair Trade certified commodities like sugar, coffee, chocolate, quinoa, etc… this will help ensure that precious funds are getting to the farmer and solely to the hard of the manufacturer/distributor/retailer.
- Get out and vote in all elections, nationally, regional, etc… voting for policy makers who believe in equal rights.
- Redistribute your own wealth. Create a solid budget for yourself that includes some financial give back.
Future Care –
This is a newer one in the Permaculture community, and it is referring to the work we do specifically for the future generations and the future of the planet and everything that lives on our Mother Earth. By participating in some of the above suggestions, and they are only a few, we can help make sure the future is safe, healthy and bright for all the generations to come.