Home » Posts tagged 'permaculture'

Tag Archives: permaculture

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Online vs. Onsite Permaculture Courses: Which is Better?

Online vs. Onsite Permaculture Courses: Which is Better?

When deciding which permaculture course to take, the question at the forefront of it is whether to go with an online and onsite (in-person) version. Like so many things in the world (and permaculture design), the answer to this is variable, dependent on individual circumstances, abilities, and goals.

In short, either one could be great (and we are happy to have you on the permaculture team); however, your first assignment will be figuring out which format works best for you, your learning style, your tendencies, your needs…your mental climate so to speak. So, rather than deciding outright which is better, this article will be looking at how each works so that perspective students might choose for themselves.

Whilst doing this, we’ll work under the assumption that PDC students usually take the course with at the very least a cursory knowledge of permaculture—some sort of sustainable living thing that has to do with growing food in seemingly unconventional ways—and want to learn further what permaculture is and, more so, how to use it themselves.

With that in mind, it’s important that courses cover the basics of the practice, providing the history of, the motivation behind, and the basic theories within permaculture. From there, students would ideally want to take on the practices of permaculture and begin applying them to their own lives at their own homes. After all, the point of permaculture is put into action these things that we have observed and learned about the world.

What to Expect from an Online Course

On the whole, online PDC courses, despite being cheaper, are much more in-depth than onsite courses. They tend to last for months and cover a broad range of subjects, including climates from all around the world.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jonathon Engels, permaculture, permaculture research news, learning,

Permaculture

Permaculture

A design system that offers a radical reimagination of the possible

Permaculture is a design system that mimics the patterns of flourishing ecosystems to create ecologically regenerative human societies.  First developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s, permaculture takes inspiration from Indigenous and ‘traditional’ agrarian practices. Mollison and Holmgren created a philosophy and a set of principles for producing diverse and dynamic ecosystems in which humans play a positive role.

Permaculture is strongly associated with specific practices, such as planting perennial polycultures. However, its most distinctive aspect is a focus on ecological design that is based on careful observation and deep interconnection. Through this design process, permaculturalists co-create, with non-human nature, spaces and lives that restore soil, build biodiversity, and allow for the flourishing of multiple species, including humans.

Permaculture emphasises that the Earth is full of abundance, not in commodities, but in energy from the sun, wind, water, food, and life itself. According to permaculture ethics, this abundance should be shared with other people, non-human animals, and the Earth. Permaculturalists do not view humans as inherently destructive or greedy. Within healthy ecosystems, animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria form cooperative, rather than competitive relationships, and humans can be an integral part of these ecosystems. As a system based on cooperation and solidarity among humans and non-human nature, permaculture offers a radical reimagination of the possible.

As a system based on cooperation and solidarity among humans and non-human nature, permaculture offers a radical reimagination of the possible

Permaculture has spread from Australia throughout the world and been interpreted in a variety of ways. This has led to some important debates within the international permaculture movement. Some proponents of permaculture aim to keep it de-politicized and professionalized as a system of ecological design only, while others seek to align with other social justice movements…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

permaculture, uneven earth, food production, agriculture, food, rebecca ellis

Permaculture design for Stephan Schrotter at Cairo Montenotte, Italy

Permaculture design for Stephan Schrotter at Cairo Montenotte, Italy

This article is in three parts.  The entire series will take us through a Permaculture Design Project at a property in Italy.  Firstly we will look at how the project was observed, then the analysis that was undertaken before starting the design.

Holistic Goal

What is it?

holistic goal is a three-part goal describing the quality of life desired, the forms of production to get there, and the future resource base that the forms of production depend on. A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a goal. A task is one step in the plan of action to accomplish a goal.

A Holistic Goal (now referred to as a “Holistic Context” by the Savory Institute) is necessary for anyone who wants to be a Holistic Manager. It can help you with your personal life, your business, and your family life. Having a Holistic Goal has eliminated a lot of decision-making stress in my life.

Holistic Management involves using a simple decision-making framework that ensures all significant management decisions are simultaneously economically, socially and environmentally sound both short and long term.  No longer are decisions made toward objectives or goals alone, but always toward a new concept called the holistic goal for any management situation. The holistic goal provides the context for all objectives, goals or actions toward any vision or mission. This helps greatly in avoiding unintended consequences to our actions that are so universal that economists long ago used the term “Law of unintended consequences.”

-Allan Savory

What you have to manage?

A Permaculture project:  Rebuild the house with two or three rooms to rent, food production for the family and guests, trees…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Permaculture?

Why Permaculture?

It’s been several years since I first stumbled upon permaculture, and several years minus a couple of months since I started doing my best to practice it.  Many people have a similar story, and my guess is, like me, they’ve been asked dozens, possibly hundreds, of times what permaculture is.  But, it’s been a rarity—if it has ever happened at all—that someone asks me why permaculture. That might actually be more notable.

When permaculture came into my life, my wife Emma and I were on a trip through Central and South America, hopping from farm to farm on work-trades to both stretch our budget while traveling and learn a bit about growing our own food. We cared about the environment, so we’d guessed organic farms were the way to go. It only took a matter of weeks to begin hearing the term permaculture as byword. We borrowed some books and were soon engrossed in the practice.

Our life has radically changed for the better. We’ve become stronger people, physically and mentally. We’ve become more capable, able to grow and preserve our own food and to build our own home, while consistently adding to the toolbox: forage wild mushrooms, make an earthen pizza oven, design a grey water system, start a social business… The world, from twenty feet away to the entire global construct, looks totally different, and while it may sometimes be scary, there always seems to be identifiable, simple steps for us to take, right now.

Why Permaculture?

 The grand appeal of permaculture over basic organic gardening is that it is so much more. We had aspirations of living on a piece of land and growing a lot of our own food, but there were so many more ambitions beyond that.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permaculture Alternatives to Waste-to-Energy (W2E)

Kowhai Festival
 Photograph by author, Trish Allen.

Permaculture Alternatives to Waste-to-Energy (W2E)

Waste-to-energy (W2E), particularly incineration, is being promoted as a good alternative to landfills – it gets rid of all that plastic we use and generate energy, right? In this article I’d like to first outline what’s wrong with W2E and then talk about permaculture alternatives.

So What Is Wrong With W2E Incineration?

W2E is a continuation of the ‘take-make-dispose’ economy which lulls people into the belief that we can continue our wasteful ways without changing our behaviour. But we live on a finite planet and most environmental harm comes at the extraction stage – so why would we want to burn resources and get rid of them? It doesn’t make sense. We need to get away from an extractive to a regenerative culture.

There are multiple negative impacts of W2E plants, which are seeing many being decommissioned internationally. For example, the toxic ash that remains after burning still has to be disposed of in a landfill.  This can be up to 25% of the original volume of waste material, but with more toxicity. So incinerators don’t do away with the need for a landfill, instead they require a landfill for more toxic and dangerous waste.

Aside from the toxic ash, W2E incineration plants create an on-going demand for waste to fuel the incinerator. They are very expensive to build, have huge embodied energy, and once built, have to run for years to get a return, locking us into a destructive system.  Right now our planet’s ability to sustain life is seriously at risk. We cannot afford the luxury of investing in bad ideas.

Our young people are calling for Climate Action now and we have a major responsibility to urgently reduce emissions. Incinerators create emissions. New Zealand’s electricity is currently 80% clean (water, wind, solar, geothermal) so why would we want to start burning trash to generate power?  It just doesn’t add up environmentally, economically or socially.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permaculture and Money – Part 3

Permaculture and Money – Part 3

The Practice of Being Open

In part 1(1) of this series, we explored the relationship between money, psychology and violence, while in part 2(2) we looked at some ways in which the stories we tell as a culture to do with money could be seen as encouraging destructive patterns of behaviour. Looby Macnamara would describe such destructive patterns as “spirals of erosion”(3) and this part will explore in more detail some practical ideas for how we can transcend such erosive behaviours and create “spirals of abundance”(3) instead.

Alternative Economic Theories

In parts 1(1) and 2 (2), I mentioned theories about the possibility of a moneyless society, or a society where money takes a different role, such as Sacred Economics(4) author Charles Eisenstein and Satish Kumar, who among other roles was a practicing Jain monk as a child(5).  Both of these writers can be said to be influenced by EF Schumacher, whose book Small is Beautiful (6), published in 1973, critiqued the unsustainable model of resource and profit-driven industrialised capitalism, and recommends instead a philosophy of “enoughness” and appropriate use of technology(6).  Schumacher was himself influenced by Oriental thinking and in particular Buddhist ideas of moderation (see for example ref 7). In modern society, we can see an example of “enoughness” in practice in the Thai concept of “sufficiency economy” (8).

Peace Pilgrimage

The above examples show some ways in which alternative economic ideas have been influencing the world, and are somewhat encouraged in some mainstream societies. Yet if money is the very problem, it seems we need to explore more radical alternatives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permaculture and Money – Part 2

Abundance
 Photograph by Author, Charlotte Ashwanden

Permaculture and Money – Part 2

Living and Giving Abundance

In part 1 of this article series we looked at the curious concept of money and how it can be seen to be contributing to the institutional violence of much of modern society. This part will look at some alternative ways of viewing and interacting with money, while the next part will begin to explore some practical ways in which we can all begin living more abundantly.

Stories For A New World

In part 1 we explored the idea of transcending current modes of thinking or behaving, in order to engage in new ones. As John Paul Lederach points out, if we really want to find new ways of living then we cannot simply create a vision of a different place – we also need to be aware of where we are right now (1).

As Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, put it,

“It is not merely our attitudes about money that must change…rather, we will create new kinds of money that
embody and reinforce changed attitudes” (2)

A Change In The System…

Some alternative economic theories include ideas such as the creation of local currencies like the Bristol Pound (3), non-centralised currencies such as Bitcoin(4) or bartering or exchange systems such as those put into practice using Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), for example in Australia with the Australian Community Exchange System (5). All of these can be seen to represent important options for those looking to put permaculture into practice by moving away from the monoculture of solely using money.

Or Of The System?

However, such alternatives can be seen to still be based on the premise of exchanging for a fixed rate which is decided abstractly and therefore they still hold within them the inherent disconnection from nature and subsequent destructive tendencies which using money carries with it (2, 6).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permaculture and Money – Part 1

Permaculture and Money – Part 1

Cash, conflict and crisis: How is money connected to limited and violent beliefs, and how can we transcend these beliefs?

Permaculture design is about finding ways in which parts of a system can harmonise together, creating regenerative patterns and structures which can help us to develop as part of an interconnected whole(1). We can use permaculture design not only to help us to change physical systems such as in gardening, but also with less visible social structures. One of the most universal and destructive of these ‘invisible structures’ can be seen as the globalised, competition-driven economy, and more specifically, the concept of money which upholds it.

Back in 1949, physicist Albert Einstein said “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive” (2). Decades of environmental destruction, characterised by the perpetuation of a seeming disconnection between humans and nature, along with the current global “crisis” catalysed by people’s reaction to the Corona Virus, seem to show these words as more pertinent now than ever.

This article series will explore some ways in which money itself can be seen as the destructive element encouraging this disconnection. This part will look at some theories of how money, violence and psychology are closely inter-related, while subsequent parts will go into detail about alternative ways of using or relating to money, and some practical ways to achieve this in your own life.

Money & Mind

Many proponents of a moneyless society, such as Sacred Economics (3) author Charles Eisenstein and Moneyless Manifesto (4) author Mark Boyle, have theorised that money itself is perpetuating violent and destructive behaviour in human society (3, 4).  That is not to say that we should necessarily get rid of money, though there are many ideas for how we could do that (more about this in part 2).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Planting Seeds in Crisis

Planting Seeds in Crisis

Food and seed sovereignty in uncertain times

As governments of more and more countries introduce various kinds of lockdowns (1) during the ongoing virus “pandemic” (1), we appear to be experiencing what many would say is an unprecedented global “crisis” (see for example 2). This article will explore the opportunities inherent in such a situation, in particular with regard to food and seed sovereignty and, ultimately, the sovereignty of our own lives.

What is crisis?

There are many theories about the origins of the Coronavirus and the curiously strong grip its presence has on media and governments worldwide (3, 4, 5). For example, that the virus was made possible by factory farming (3) or our current mistreatment of farm animals (4). Or the theory postulated right here on Permaculture News by Nirmala Nair that perhaps it could be “a symptom of dwindling microbial biota – a result of the past 50 years of accelerated industrial food production, processing and movement of food around the world?” (5)

Regardless of the actual origin, at any time, the influence of media and government propaganda is something to be aware of. This seems a particularly important moment to be aware of news and actions aimed at inducing emotions such as fear and panic, and to provide a counterpoint of calm, reflection on wider issues, and compassion.

With this in mind, let’s look at the etymology of the word ‘crisis’. Though often used in a negative context, we can see that the roots of this word come from the Greek for “decide, judge” (6). A time of crisis, therefore, can be seen as a time for making decisions – for becoming aware of the choices we face as a species and a planet and to decide on a course of action. Though decisions could be scary to some, this time can be seen as an opportunity for us to decide, individually and socially, how we actually wish to be living our lives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permaculture as Philosophy

Permaculture as Philosophy

It’s almost spring – all right, it’s the middle of winter – and I’m reading about gardening. It’s my yearly ritual to keep hope alive in the dark months. I sort my seeds, draw up garden plans while standing by the snow-covered garden beds, and flip through the glossy garden porn that the seed companies mail me every January.

Some winters I’ve delved into more serious study. Recently I spent months reading about permaculture and talking with practitioners. I like their underlying concept of growing things in a sustainable and sane way, although I don’t see it as the only solution to our environmental and food production challenges. But, to quote Leslie Nielsen, that’s not important right now; reading about permaculture also led me to three related thoughts.

Permaculture, I’ve learned, is not only a method but a philosophy, one that emphasizes the relationships among all the elements of the environment rather than its individual parts in isolation. The opposite is big-farm monoculture. In monoculture, corn or soybeans are removed finally and completely from the environment where they were raised, leaving behind a barren field. In order to grow the corn or soybeans next year, external inputs of seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, irrigation, and petroleum-powered machines are necessary.

The goal in permaculture, however, is to have an almost perfectly closed system that reaches a natural maturity and sustains itself there with minimal human help. Once properly established, an ideal permaculture system fertilizes its own soil through a mix of deep-rooted plants that bring up nutrients and aerate the soil, nitrogen-fixing plants, plants that drop leaves as mulch, and animals that plow, fertilize, and control the plant and insect populations. This system stores water in its soil and loses very little to run-off. Because more of the plants are perennial, as opposed to monoculture’s annuals, plant populations remain in place and in balance – an ever-shifting balance, but a sustainable one – for decades.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Making The Most Of What We Harvest

 Photograph by Jill Wellington (Pixabay)

Making The Most Of What We Harvest

Secondary Uses for Common Crops

It’s nearing the end of our main growing season here in North Carolina. Halfway through October, our tomato plants are not much longer for the world, perhaps even living on borrowed time now. Summer squashes have given way, and winter squashes are strewn out waiting for the first frost.

We’ve also got some cold weather stuff in the ground. Cilantro has reseeded itself. We’ve planted rounds of carrots, beets, chard, kale, and radishes. Collard greens, a local favourite, are on the go. Kohlrabi is in the ground. Because we’ve been building our home, we’ve dropped the ball on getting some of what we’d like to have planted—broccoli, fava beans, leeks—this year.

But, what’s on my mind is more positive: It’s how much we’ve enjoyed our common crops this summer. More so, part of what we’ve enjoyed has been making the very most of them. We are steadily adding to our repertoire of possibilities, expanding our diets and production into new realms.

As dutiful permaculturalists, we’ve always sought out secondary (edible) uses for our harvests, ways to get more function from what we have cultivated. Here’s some of what has us excited this year, as well as some notes from the past and hopes for the future.

Carrot Tops

Common Crop Carrot Tops
Photograph by Rachel C IMP (Pixabay)

With our second growing season in North Carolina, we showed marked improvement in our carrot harvest. The roots have been the most flavourful I’ve ever eaten, and they’ve come out of the ground with a heft we didn’t get last year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Without a rebellion there might be nothing left. The tide is turning and necessarily so.

Without a rebellion there might be nothing left. The tide is turning and necessarily so.

extinction rebellion

An international rebellion has begun. I am writing this as a call to action for humanity and permaculture enthusiasts everywhere. I want to take a few minutes to share my story, and perhaps you will be inspired by a world that is waking up. The sea is rising and so are we.

I will finish with some practical ways you can get involved in the rebellion and what you can do after.

10 years ago I did a course in Permaculture Design and it changed my life. I no longer felt alone in seeking solutions to global warming and ecological disasters like mass deforestation. I had found my people⎯ agrarian systems thinkers and community activists with a deep connection to the world around them. And much to my relief a network of curious people with the will to design a world that works alongside nature!

Permaculture designers have been acting to mitigate the climate emergency and ecological breakdown since the 70’s. The approaches used in permaculture have inspired a generation to redesign the places that they live. Permaculture networks, the Permaculture Association and groups like Transition Towns have done much of the groundwork for grassroots action for ‘systems change, not climate change’ in the UK and beyond.

The permaculture approach helps design intelligent systems which meet human needs whilst enhancing biodiversity, reducing our impact on the planet, and creating a fairer world for us all.

We will need grassroots movements like permaculture systems thinking and design to reinvent the way we design our society so that we can meet the our needs whilst working in harmony with our planet. Without approaching our challenges in this systematic way we do not have a chance to innovate and make integrated policy changes needed meet the Paris agreement or the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

David Holmgren: A Baby Boomers’ Apology

David Holmgren: A Baby Boomers’ Apology

Raphael The miraculous draught of fishes 1515

There are days, though all too scarce, when very nice surprises come my way. Case in point: yesterday I received a mail from David Holmgren after a long period of radio silence. Australia’s David is one of the fathers of permaculture, along with Bill Mollison, for those few who don’t know him. They first started writing about the concept in the 1970s and never stopped.

Dave calls himself “permaculture co-originator” these days. Hmm. Someone says: “one of the pioneers of modern ecological thinking”. That’s better. No doubt there. These guys taught many many thousands of people how to be self-sufficient. Permaculture is a simple but intricate approach to making sure that the life in your garden or backyard, and thereby your own life, moves towards balance.

My face to face history with David is limited, we spent some time together on two occasions only, I think, in 2012 a day at his home (farm) in Australia and in 2015 -a week- in Penguin, Tasmania at a permaculture conference where the Automatic Earth’s Nicole Foss was one of the key speakers along with Dave. Still, despite the limited time together I see him as a good and dear friend, simply because he’s such a kind and gracious and wise man. 

In his mail, David asked if I would publish this article, which he originally posted on his own site just yesterday under the name “The Apology: From Baby Boomers To The Handicapped Generations”. I went for a shorter title (it’s just our format), but of course I will.

Dave has been an avid reader of the Automatic Earth for the past 11 years, we sort of keep his feet on the ground when they’re not planted and soaking in that same ground: “Reading TAE has helped me keep up to date..”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CRISIS, HOPE, AND PERMACULTURE

CRISIS, HOPE, AND PERMACULTURE

A “Green New Deal” is on everyone’s lips, but how do we actually get there? Our brand new “Green is the New Silver (Lining): Crisis, Hope, and Permaculture,” (http://bit.ly/hope-permaculture) the first of 4 videos in our free-to-view “Permaculture Masterclass,” offers one possible answer. And if we do this right, we can go far beyond organic, beyond sustainability — and towards building thriving communities of abundance. You ready?

Saving the Planet

SAVING THE PLANET

I have often found myself wincing as I hear people talking about saving the planet. It’s felt wrong!  I can hear the voices of condemnation screaming at me now … ‘What a horrible person you are not to agree with saving the planet.’… but let me explain.

I’m the same age as Geoff Lawton!  Though I think he’s doing better than me!

I was brought up in the 50s/60s. I had two dads, my biological one and my step dad. My father was a left wing, ‘why is the government giving money to the farmers just because they have a drought’ type of person. He was always railing against the government because it didn’t look after the poor people. He was also the one who would order me out of the room so he could spray DDT in the living room to kill the flies. We left when I was 10.

My step dad was right wing. He didn’t believe the government should be giving out free money to people. He believed in self responsibility. What can you do to get yourself out of the situation?  He was also a firm believer in organic farming, no poisons, and natural health solutions. (Yes, I know that sounds counterintuitive, but you’d be amazed how many right wing people believe in self responsibly and growing their own food!)

My teen years saw my parents growing all our produce organically and sharing produce with friends who also grew organically.

In Grade 10, a science teacher gave us a scenario. He explained that all energy can be quantified as BTUs, from the physical energy you put into something, to the energy it takes to make a product. He gave us an example…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase