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Introduction To Permaculture

by Rugged Individualist

Permaculture is a relatively new term, purportedly coined less than 50 years ago. But, it is only the word that is new as the concept is much older. People have been harnessing and mimicking the processes of the natural world in beneficial ways for a long time. Over millennia, in fact. In modern context, permaculture has developed beyond activities into an encompassing set of principles and practices. These deal with matters such as: self-sufficiency, resource conservation, resilience, yield, and restorative ecology. In fact, permaculture is so flexible in its interpretation that it almost certainly means something different to everyone. This is wondrous in that permaculture allows for someone to manifest the subject in their own unique way, but problematic in that it’s impossible to formulate an unequivocal definition.

Formative definitions for the permaculture body of thought have been developed by many. I will take an example from Jessi Bloom & Dave Boehnlein, authors of Practical Permaculture, who define it as: “meeting human needs through ecological and regenerative design.” Concise and simple to understand. I have developed my own meaning. I define it as: an integration of ecological components and processes into human-directed applications that solve wants and needs sustainably, creating a richer, more productive environment as a result. You can create your own interpretation, but this is how I have come to understand and embody it.

The reasons people pursue permaculture is vast. Some pursue permaculture as a means to counteract or reduce the effects of anthrogenically-induced issues. This may mean building a resilient property in the face of drastically changing climatic conditions or conserving and/or regenerating natural resources that have been eliminated or adversely affected by human activity. Others pursue permaculture as a means to derive sustenance for the body, mind, and spirit through an entwined ecological coexistence. These people may be looking to grow wholesome food and create pleasant, functional natural spaces that help them heal, reflect, and just be happier. Permaculture is a pliable framework that you can use to achieve your specific preferences.

For me, permaculture is so many things. It’s a mindset, application, therapy, reprieve from a misguided world, and a commitment to an ideal that is wholesomely good. It’s a gift that benefits every living element involved. Permaculture to me is about biodiversity, personal enlightenment, natural solutions, self-reliance, and a desire to give back to the earth. Now that we have gone over a little bit about what permaculture is and what it means to me, I’m going to give tangible examples of what I want to accomplish with permaculture. Your ideas of permaculture may include some or none of the points below.

Through permaculture, I want to:

  • Create a rich, ecologically-productive property through restorative practices that support and enhance conditions for a vibrant array of both flora and fauna diversity
  • Produce wholesome, organic food in a way that is integrated with the land, in contrast to conventional, disruptive manners of food production that cause harm or degradation to the environment and the life residing within it
  • Preserve naturally-occurring food sources on the property. Make these existing stocks more prolific by enriching the microclimates around the areas that are producing berries, nuts, and mushrooms
  • Capture and put to good use the water resources that would normally be lost or unusable in the form of runoff from impervious surfaces
  • Slow, spread, and sink water that moves across the surface of the property in order to maintain and recharge the groundwater supply below
  • Sustainably cultivate and harvest fuel for my wood-burning heating source
  • Create a permanent water fixture on the property in the form of a small pond that is filled and perpetuated through natural processes that will provide aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and a source of additional water for various needs and projects that may arise

What is it that you want to accomplish with permaculture? I’m hoping I can help you figure that out. By reading my ongoing permaculture series, you will hopefully develop your own idea of what permaculture is and possibly get inspired to do things you had never envisioned before. This series will cover:

  • Site analysis and assessment
  • Design theory
  • Goal formulation
  • Development of action lists to accomplish goals
  • Project implementation
  • Continuous reassessment and experimentation to create new value
  • Lots of pictures and videos to follow what is going on!!

I am certainly no expert in any facet of permaculture, but I have an exceeding passion for it and have been voraciously poring over resources regarding the subject. I hope I have sparked some interest in the topic and that you’ll come along for a journey into permaculture! 

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