Permaculture is the future

By Terry van der Walt Time of article published Dec 28, 2020

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So, you’ve heard people talk about permaculture, but were too embarrassed to ask what it is or you figured it was too complex a concept to adopt in your busy life.

Put simply it is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable, self sufficient, eco-friendly and ethical.

Permaculture is, indeed, a way of life that is holistic in its approach; where people live in harmony with nature with a long-term outlook aimed at reducing waste, making good use of what nature provides, and throwing in a bit of tech, just to keep it interesting

The term permaculture was first coined by Bill Millison, the Tasmanian son of a fisherman, who went on to become a professor in this field.

He defined permaculture as: “The conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.

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“It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”

More and more people are turning to permaculture, not just because it improves the quality of life, but because it also offers them hope in a time where so much seems to be in turmoil and our very existence seems to be in doubt.

David Holmgren, a co-originator of permaculture with Mollison, came up with 12 principles that guide permaculture, offering us practical solutions in every area of our lives by taking care of the planet and people and ensuring t surplus is shared fairly.

The 12 principles of permaculture

1 Observe and interact so you can respond to what is really important in moving towards a more ethical and sustainable life.

2 Catch and store energy from the sun by growing food and by using passive solar energy systems.

3 Obtain a yield, either providing food from your garden or something less tangible, such as happiness, health or mental well-being.

4 Apply self-regulation and feedback to understand where we’ve succeeded and where we’ve gone wrong. It could be something basic like ethical buying decisions, recycling or reusing.

5 Use and value renewables by using the power of the sun, the wind and water to power our homes, grow food and regenerate our environments.

6 Produce no waste by eliminating trash through composting, recycling and reusing materials.

7 Design from patterns to details, whether designing a new vegetable garden, or an entirely new sustainable way of life. We have to look at the big picture before we get bogged down in the little things.

8 Integrate don’t segregate. Just like people, plants work well in diverse systems so companion planting is the way to go.

9 Use small, slow solutions. Start small so you’re not overwhelmed, by making incremental changes towards a sustainable future.

10 Use and value diversity. As with plants, human society functions best when there is a variety of different people involved.

11 Use edges and value the marginal. This simply means make use of all the resources at your disposal, whether land, workplaces, homes or society in general.

12 Creatively use and respond to Change. Change is inevitable, and we need to design for changing seasons, changing attitudes and changing climate, if we are to turn thoughts into actions to move to a more ethical and sustainable way of life.

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