The use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production,
housing, appropriate technology, and community development.
Although the original focus of permaculture was sustainable food production, the philosophy of permaculture has expanded over time to encompass economic and social systems. It is a dynamic movement that is still evolving. For example, some practitioners are integrating spirituality and personal growth work into the framework of permaculture.
A word coined by Bill Mollison in 1974 and means both permanent agriculture and permanent culture. It is a design system and a system of techniques. The techniques have been borrowed from tribal, traditional and scientific cultures from around the world. Permaculture is now a growing movement with 2 internationally distributed magazines and about 15 books published in many countries in over 9 languages.
Permaculture is the practice of designing sustainable human habitats that are sync nature's patterns. It is based on the observation of natural systems and uses ecological principles to increase diversity and productivity of local human ecosystems. Permaculture designs incorporate food, energy, and shelter for people and animals while linking the needs and outputs of each element of the system. The result is a dynamic yet stable system that sustains itself.
What is the origin of permaculture?
By observing nature, Mollison came up with several important insights. He observed that natural systems, such as forests and wetlands, are sustainable. They provide for their own energy needs and recycle their own wastes. He also observed that all the different parts of a natural ecosystem work together. Each component of the system performs important tasks. For example, bees help to pollinate, birds provide pest control, certain plants pull nitrogen out of the air and fix it into a form that other plants can use. So everything does useful work. He applied these and other insights to design and create sustainable agricultural systems.
In the 1970's he and his student David Holmgren wrote and published some books explaining his ideas. In the 1980s he published his design manual and started teaching permaculture design courses to spread his ideas around the world. By the 1990s permaculture had started spreading throughout the US, although it's more well-known in other countries around the world. To this day, it's continuing to grow as a global grassroots movement and people primarily learn about it through permaculture design courses and workshops that generally happen outside of academia.
Who is practicing permaculture?
Have you heard the terms ecological design, sustainable design, applied ecology or green design? These are other terms that describe the basic philosophy of using nature as a model to foster sustainability. The difference between these approaches and permaculture is their scope and focus. Permaculture draws on these systems and incorporates them into a broader framework. Permaculture is a comprehensive system that can be applied to all aspects of one's life although food production remains an important focus. As mentioned earlier, it is a dynamic, living philosophy which is continuing to evolve.
How can you practice permaculture?
At Earthwalk we are developing a permaculture edible forest demonstration garden where we integrate several varieties of apples as well as pears, plumbs and choke cherries with raspberry and blackberry canes, blue berries, elderberries, goose berries, black currents, service berries, high bush cranberries. along with a wide variety of symbiotic vegetable and herb plantings. We are currently are establishing butter nut, and ginkgo and will be adding pine nuts, almonds and hazel nuts to the mix.
In our experimental garden
we are exploring crops that are not commonly grown in zone 5 climates
like Paw Paw (papaya) and Kiwi, and we are also experimenting with techniques
for growing high anti oxidant fruits like Gogi Berries and Sea Buck Thorn
Berries , and Rugosa Rosa.
We do offer courses in permaculture at the Earthwalk Sustainable Living Center.
However to help you begin to
use permaculture in your life, we can offer you an online course that
was developed by Heathcote member Karen that will present
too, can become a permaculture practitioner!
more information call our office at 905-355-3000.
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