Permaculture, we were told, is about three main things:
– Ethics (earth care people care fair shares).
– Ecological Principles (nature is the best model of sustainability – it has been around for 6 billion years, so let’s identify and copy the principles by which it works, eg cycles). These can be applied in many situations. Applying permaculture is like setting up an ecosystem.
– And Design. This is essentially about what do to now, soon, later with the resources you have now/soon/later.
Permaculture is about self reliance and keeping your brain engaged. It uses principles not rules.
It’s about the design process we go through: plants, animals, structures and events. What is there now, and what do we want to happen in the future.
It is a bit like aikido – making use of energy that already exists, with minimal efforts/changes.
The outcome is different for each site, but the design approach is the same.
Design principles include:
> multipurpose: each element has at least three functions.
> Aim for maximum yield from smallest space, maximum return from minimum work
Short Circuit, a book by Richard Douthwaite includes a descriotion of a time when about one car per week went into or out of Farnham, but the people wre happy. (I haven’t found the reference yet but the whole book is available on line here.)
In a world that has become reductionist, permaculture is part of a wider shift that is happening now towards shifting back to a holistic viewpoint.
Our “reductionist” approach to agriculture, for example, relies on phosphates as fertilisers. There are only 30-60 years of rock phosphate left.