Building Food Forests

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Permaculture farming – the art and science of sustainable agriculture. When most people these days think of farming, they think of vast tracts of cleared land containing only one or two crops such as wheat or soybeans. They think of man versus land. This is exactly the opposite of the train of thought embodied on a permaculture farm, where a key principle is working with the land, not against it.

Learning how to integrate with your surroundings in a symbiotic and sustainable manner is the name of the game in permaculture! In the simplest terms, it is the building of sustainable food forests that will last for generations if managed properly.

How Does Permaculture Farming Work?

The applied science of permaculture farming is centered around a core set of ethics and design principles. By learning to apply these principles in a real world manner you gain access to an agricultural system which is extremely versatile, resilient, productive, and overwhelmingly self-sustaining by recycling its resources holistically. It accomplishes all this by relying on cyclic, harmoniously integrated, zero-waste farming systems.

Many people wonder what is the difference between permaculture farming and organic farming. The answer is the defined set of parameters involved. While many permaculture farmers utilize organic farming practices, and vice versa, this is not always the case. Ideally, organic farms are not using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. However, regulations can vary greatly country to country.

A permaculture farm generally wouldn’t use either chemical fertilizers or pesticides on general principle as they have proven to be unsustainable, which directly conflicts with the core permaculture principle of sustainability. So because of this principle, most permaculture farms are organic farms, at least for the most part. While many organic farms might be apt to use certain permaculture principles in their designs, their core definition lies in the type of nutrients they use, which they may not necessarily employ in a cyclic or sustainable manner.

How Is Permaculture Farming More Sustainable?

Growing any particular crop on a farm site will involve examining a certain set of parameters. Especially involving general atmospheric conditions, integration of said crop, water, nutrient use, productivity, and labor. First, general atmospheric conditions have to be intensely observed, and their use gauged in correct fashion.

Working with the land, not against it – if you have a large amount of slope on site you use the water runoff. You use the gravity to your advantage, or build terraces. You don’t just label the slope useless and level it to get it out of your way, you see what benefits can be gained by choosing to work with it. Integrate everything. One system runs to the next and the next and then circles back around to the beginning again in a cyclic fashion. There is zero waste because the output of one system becomes the input for the next system.

A tree is a great example of a zero-waste, sustainable, cyclic system. Trees send roots all over the ground in search of nutrients and water. They turn these things into different end products such as wood, fruit, and leaves, all of which eventually fall back to the ground beneath the tree to rot and compost into new fertilizer for the tree and its neighbors.

If you look into nature you can see that its cyclic movement is one of the major keys to its stability, along with its diversity, which breeds resilience. Sometimes the benefit of this way of being only becomes obvious when these age old cycles are broken and disasters occur. Take the example of what has happened to the songbird and honeybee population from pesticide use.

Permaculture Farming. What Is It?

Permaculture farming is building food forests in a cyclic, harmonic, and sustainable manner – an agricultural system meant to last for generations and generations to come.