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Permaculture

For the last few years I’m now living with and learning permaculture. I’m a graduate of the Permaculture Design Course and I must say this is the stuff history is written with.

In our fast changing society there are several things that are not keeping pace with those changes. The whole focus is on trying to keep up, sometimes with the Jones’s, sometimes just with our bills.

In a community where everyone is contributing you end up with a powerful group where everyone wins. For some time now we have been so pressed to try earn a decent living we have forgotten how to be group members. It’s all for him or herself.

An interesting example is Spain which is not known for having a high national gross domestic production (GDP). But there’s an example of a small community which came together and figured out how to function as a group. They are now a multi-billion operation where people have work for life. It is called Mondragon and now has a worth of 24$ billion. It is a co-op and well worth looking into. This is an example of how you can ignore current conditions and create something positive out of nothing.

When the value of people are placed in how much money they make and ignoring how valuable they are to the community you get individuality. (There’s nothing wrong with people making good money for good work produced. You should be able to make a good living and make as much money as you want.) This is a sensitive subject as people are used to feeling ripped off, not being paid their worth and so on.

We have systems such as capitalism, communism, socialism etc. They all fail when the humanities are left out of the equation. Corporations earn a bad reputation for dumping toxins into the soil, water and so on. They are only listening to their shareholders. Ignore people, including future generations, to make money.

If corporations had their number one rule be something like Asimov’s first rule for robots, never hurt a human, we could still pursue high earnings but not do so at the expense of our fellow man.

Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

What if people and corporations lived with the same rules?

In permaculture I’ve learned that most of the dire problems in farming such as droughts, floods, dead soil, etc. have simple solutions that are also inexpensive. In fact we have a saying ‘the problem is the solution’. If you have, for example, too many grasshoppers bring in turkeys which eat grasshoppers. Now you can sell turkey meat and earn more than you did of the salads you grew.

Permaculture is a paradigm shift. As with anything else it does require that you know what you are doing. And it’s pretty easy to learn. By making this change in your perspective you discover solutions everywhere! We are so trained into following whoever came before us and not look and question it sufficiently that we don’t evolve in some areas.

For example, farmers ruin the soil they work every year. They are in a tough spot, if the crop fails the bank takes their land. Laws are often against them. Usually a farm has generations that lived and lives on it. They are told a lot of things by people who are supposedly the authority on the subject. including if it was good for their dad it’s good enough for them. It has the hope of a simpler life.

Unfortunately, if you run over the soil with these mega bugs super heavy tractors you do a really really good job with compressing the soil. That means the microbes that makes the soil work is killed or at least decimated. Soil needs air, water and nutrients. Compressed it will not have air, not allow water into it and there won’t be much nutrition either. When it rains it will cause floods. The floods pickup all the pesticides and push them down to the river, and in the case of Mississippi, wash out into the Gulf of Mexico where it kills of the life in the gulf. Then because the land becomes arid you end up with sand storms, or dust bowl as they came to be known as, which the mid west experienced in the early 1930’s.

Tree’s will not have their natural defenses when they are fighting the toxins produced by companies such as Monsanto, now owned by Bayer AG. Monsanto got patents on grains! Yeah, no joke. By genetically altering them in a brilliant move to be able to sell more pesticides they made grain that could better handle the pesticides IF you use their grain.

Then they sued any farmer that did not buy their grain claiming seeds would have blown in to their farm and now find themselves being subject to their legal department. Most farmers could not effectively defend themselves and simply fell victims. If you told anyone in the 1950’s that grain would be patented and you had little option but buying it from one seller you would have been the laughing stock.

The defenses down trees will be more susceptible to attack, for example, greening which is killing a lot of citrus. Each living thing can handle a certain amount of attacks but when weakened by, for example, toxins it’s immune system will be less able to defend itself and it falls pray. This is why it is vital we as people get proper nutrition from nature.

Today we know that making money at any expense is largely accepted, the future be damned. Yet for hundreds of years we had native Americans known as the Iroquois nation, look seven generations ahead before making any changes to nature to ensure their actions would not degrade nature. They knew they had to live in harmony with nature or succumb. Today we have no such common sense in our lifestyle where we live with blinders to ensure we don’t see anything expect what’s right in front of us. Today we don’t think we have the luxury of thinking of our children’s future.

Fortunately things are changing. New technologies are coming of age, such as permaculture and new generations of young people who don’t subscribe to that point of view, as the song by Sting goes. Everybody can learn how to apply permaculture in their life. By simply adding a bit of thought, consider the consequences and do a Whole System Design, you can make doable gradual improvements that leads to a better life for you, your family and future generations.

I’m living that life now. And yes, it’s hard work setting up a permaculture farm, as it is with any farm. But as it gets in place it gets much easier to maintain than traditional farming. You live with nature, not against it and certainly don’t use toxic unsustainable solutions. (Food tastes a lot better as well! : ) Permaculture is also regenerative because nature is. It is resilient because life is. This applies all across the seven petals of the permaculture flower (as designed by David Holmgren).

Full disclosure, I now work with Koreen Brennan, world renowned, on the national board of Permaculture Institute of America (PINA), and have trained most of the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) graduates in Florida. Her company Grow Permaculture is making a lot of paradigm shifts occur in her classes. We deliver a slew of services from a simple consults to advising on the suitability of a piece of land to grow things you want, to full system designs incorporating as many of the petals you want, to energy efficient solutions for heating, cooling including alternative energy such as solar.

Take a free introduction to permaculture workshop and discover your own paradigm shift! Sign up for our newsletter (on the home page) and join our group of people interested in permaculture.