Sunday, July 22, 2007

What is Permaculture Anyway?

I've added a few new blogs to my blogroll, and invited them to link back to me. I'm always happy to exchange links with like-minded bloggers. Just email me if you'd like to swap links. One of the new links is called Permaculture in Brittany. The blog owners Stuart and Gabrielle emailed me to suggest a new "Permaculture" section in my links.

What is permaculture anyway? Well, as I understand it, it's the philosophy of working with nature rather than against it. So instead of battling weeds, fighting pests, combating your local conditions of soil, light, water, climate etc. you instead see yourself, the gardener, as part of a whole ecosystem.

I've written about the principle of return - that you take nothing away from the land unless you can return something of equal or greater value. So our weeds are composted or turned into weed tea. That's very permaculture. And our edible vandal-proof hedge which serves multiple functions at once, is also very permaculture. Systems like companion planting, intensive spacing, and encouraging biodiversity are all very permaculture.

For a while I couldn't get my head around permaculture. It just sounded like plain common sense. I kept asking "But what is it?" Until it dawned on me - that's all it is. Common sense. It's just that common sense isn't all that common any more.

So, Stuart and Gabrielle , I don't think I'll add a "Permaculture" section, simply because I wouldn't know who to put in there. I think almost all my links could comfortably fit in a section labelled "Permaculture", but it wouldn't be very helpful just to have one big section with everybody in it. So I've put you in "Self Sufficiency Blogs" with Stonehead, Irish Sally Garden, Wombat and all the others. I think you'll agree you have a lot in common with them all, whether or not they'd describe themselves as permaculturists.

7 comments:

farmingfriends said...

Hi Mel, This is a very interesting article about permaculture.I am glad that you have answered the question as I wasn't sure what it meant.
Thanks for the link - I have reciprocated.
Sara from farmingfriends

Scarecrow said...

Hi Melanie
An important part of permaculture, for me, is finding solutions; not just finding problems.

BTW I've nominated you for a "Frugal Subversive Award" ! :)

Details are on my blog:
http://scarecrowsgarden.blogspot.com/

Stonehead said...

I recently read one of the big "bibles" of permaculture thinking that it might well apply to us.

But while there were lots of useful ideas and much that replicates what we do, I was left with the feeling that permaculture - at least according to this book - was for the affluent middle classes who can afford to be "alternative", afford crop failures, afford pest invasions and afford a lifestyle choice.

For instance, it's all very well sharing an ecosystem with wild rabbits when you can afford to buy replacement vegetables due to their ravages. But when you depend on your vegetables for food, can't afford any more specialist fencing and a lack of predators means rabbit numbers are soaring, then you have to do battle with them and virtually exterminate them.

Anything less will see them wipe out a year's food in a matter of days - weeks at the most.

We've found that as with so many of alternative, green, organic, self-sufficiency routes put forward by the comfortably off, a healthy does of pragmatism and realism is missing.

By all means strive to make less impact on the environment, co-exist with nature as much as possible and choose simpler alternatives, but if you're actually trying to live like that instead of buying a lifestyle, then you must be hard nosed, get your feet, hands and mind dirty, be pragmatic, and ignore the fluffy claptrap.

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