Permaculture is a scientific and ethical system of sustainable agriculture based on traditional principles of agriculture used successfully and commonly around the world before the advent of modern industrial "factory farm" methods of farming such as chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organism seeds from Monsanto (see Terminator seeds) designed to resist massive amounts of toxic insecticides-pesticides-herbicides.
Introduction to the term "Permaculture"
The word "Permaculture", its theories, philosophies, ethics, patterns, and main ideas of permaculture were synthesized-developed by Bill Mollison in Australia during the 1970s and disseminated by his student Geoff Lawton.
The word permaculture is a portmanteau that was originally created from the words "permanent agriculture". It has now been expanded to include the more broad words of "permanent" and "culture".
Permaculture is a series of frameworks, techniques and tools to analyze, design, and create systems of all types, yet it is most commonly applied to agricultural food production systems, although many types of system can be established using the permaculture framework.
Permaculture's Common Practices and Concepts
Permaculturists employ techniques from a broad range of disciplines, but these tools are selected and applied according to how well they allow permaculture's principles to be applied, not because a particular method is "how we do it in permaculture."
While there are numerous practices and concepts, these are some of the main ones:
- Mulch and Manure Fertilizer: Chop and Drop Mulching - Sheet mulching, Green manure, Cover crop
- Earth Works - Hugelkultur, Swales, and Terraces
- Hugelkultur - Volumes of wood buried under soil to increase soil fertility and soil's retention of water. The decomposing wood acts as a wick/sponge when underground thus during rainy season the buried wood absorbs enough water to support the crops planted on the raised "hugel bed" throughout the dry season. Hugelculture is promoted by permaculturalists Paul Wheaton, Jack Spirko, Geoff Lawton, Masanobu Fucuoka, Sepp Holzer, and many others.
- Food Forest - Agroforestry
- Companion Planting
- Polyculture - Large diversity of plant species in one garden or farm
- Holistic Management
- Plant Guild
- Support Species
- Edge Effect
- Function Stacking
- Herb spiral
- Keyhole bed
Appeal to Homesteaders, Preppers and Survivalists
Permaculture has been adopted by many in the conservative-libertarian Homesteader, Survivalist-Preparedness movement. Permaculture results in long term productive ecosystems that require minimal maintenance and little to no inputs once well established. Permaculture also can help create an abundance of food on arid, infertile, rocky or marginal land often considered not viable for agricultural use. (See the YouTube video "Greening of the Desert"
Permaculture includes everything from water catchment, alternative energy systems, alternative building, livestock management to food forestry and much more. Permaculture is a system that results in a highly self sufficient small town values lifestyle in all times not just during a crisis. Hence it has gained broad acceptance by conservative-thinking homesteaders and survivalists.
Growing your own food
Growing your own food is for everyone not just people that want "organic" fruit and vegetables. To produce food, even as little as 10% of what the gardener use reduces dependence on "the system". If nothing else gardening is good for emotional and physical health and increases the value of any property.
Food and water storage
Food stored-Food preservation (e.g. canning, etc.) is a major consideration of permaculture and is an exceptional tangible investment. Food is increasing in cost faster than just about any investment right now and certainly faster than the rate of inflation. A gardener simply can't lose by storing additional food that is eatten on a regular basis.
Renewable energy is an important part of permaculture. Alternative energy can save money (short or long term) and addresses global warming concerns. Fuel efficient vehicles are also great but the effective implementation of such vehicles requires that they be affordable, well built and well-engineered. Some argue that the best way to promote "green energy" is via economics.
Owning land is true wealth
Permaculture implies some land-soil to grow food and medicines (herbs), thus owning land is true wealth. Individuals should strive to own land in the rural country where taxes are low and big government restrictions are limited. Even if you live in the city finding, buying and improving land within 3–5 hours of your primary residence makes a lot of sense. If you can use it to get out of the city at some point so much the better.
In addition to food, water and other common preparedness stores ("preps") use common sense methods of hedging against "disaster" due to drought, weather events, crop failure, famine, etc. The types of protection offered by permaculture techniques can make your life a lot less miserable when something goes wrong. Permaculturists make this part of their planning and permaculture design.
Species Diversity in Permaculture
In permaculture gardening-farming, there is the core concept of polyculture - a technique of agricultural diversity or ecodiversity. Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops and/or animals in the same space. This is done as an imitation of the biodiversity of natural ecosystems. In nature large stands of single crops, known as monoculture rarely exist. Intercropping and companion planting are like "polyculture lite". They use 2 or 3 plants planted together while polyculture can use up to 10 or 20 plants in the same area. Polyculture is not limited to just plants. It can be used to describe systems using multiple animals as well. Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farms use a rotational grazing systems of cows, chickens, pigs, and rabbits in a polyculture.
Quotes about Permaculture Topics
- Fucuoka, Masanobu. The One Straw Revolution. Rodale Books (US). Holistic Agriculture Library
- Hart, Robert. Forest Gardening. Green Books (UK) ISBN 1-900322-02-1.
- Hemenway, Toby. Gaia's Garden. Chelsea Green Books (US) (2001). ISBN 1-890132-52-7.
- Jacke, Dave with Eric Toensmeier. Edible Forest Gardens. Volume I: Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate-Climate Permaculture, Volume II: Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate-Climate Permaculture. Edible Forest Gardens (US) 2005
- Law, Ben. The Woodland House. [Permanent Publications] (UK) (2005), ISBN 1-85623-031-7.
- Law, Ben. The Woodland Way. [Permanent Publications] (UK), ISBN 1-85623-009-0.
- Mollison, Bill & David Holmgren Permaculture One. Transworld Publishers (Australia) (1978), ISBN 0-552-98060-9.
- Mollison, Bill. Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. Tagari Press (Australia).
- Mollison, Bill Permaculture Two. Tagari Press (Australia) (1979), ISBN 0-908228-00-7.
- Wheaton, Paul. "raised garden beds: hugelkultur instead of irrigation" Richsoil.com. Accessed December 5, 2014.
- Hemenway, Toby (2009). Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Chelsea Green Publishing. pp. 84-85. ISBN 978-1-60358-029-8.
- Feineigle, Mark. "Hugelkultur: Composting Whole Trees With Ease". Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. Accessed December 5, 2014.
- Greening the Desert by Geoff Lawton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reCemnJmkzI found on https://www.youtube.com/user/Permasolutions/videos Accessed December 5, 2014. Also see https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Greening+of+the+Desert+youtube, http://www.permies.com/t/1784/desert/Greening-Desert)
- Wheaton, Paul, "Paul Wheaton on Polycure", American Redoubt, Montana: Make It Missoula. Published August 15th, 2012. Accessed February 10, 2015