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Permaculture or Permanent Agriculture, is the study and implementation of sustainable agriculture practices. The term was officially coined by the founder of Permaculture, Bill Mollison, when he began teaching his first classes in 1981.
It was a system of designs, ideas, principles, and practical implementation meant to enhance peoples knowledge of their natural environments and give them the means to grow in a sustainable manner.
It is an ever evolving bio-science which teaches us to be the responsible tenders of our Earth we were meant to be.
Why Was Permaculture Started?
What the founders at the time were originally trying to teach, were the design principles and implementation of sustainable Earth care systems. While the science of Permaculture is mainly associated with agriculture; you will find that its ideas and principles go far beyond just that. It is an agricultural science that bridges itself with many other ecological and social issues.
In principle a well designed permaculture setup, of any kind, will always first be about sustainability. A well built system should show the resilience and diversity of a natural ecosystem.
At the time of permaculture’s conception as a bio-science, and continuing to the present day, many agricultural processes across the world are very destructive to our Earth’s natural ecology. Simply put they are extremely harmful to our world, and definitively unsustainable.
Chemical Pesticides Vs. Permaculture Techniques
A couple of basic examples would be to compare the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, versus the permaculture techniques of companion planting and composting. The examples would be mono-cropping with GMO seed, as opposed to purely organic poly-cropping with open pollinated seed.
Chemical Pesticides & Fertilizers
Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are responsible for an immense amount of ecological destruction. Land and water are often poisoned to the point that many wildlife habitats are being irreversibly damaged. Salt build-up from chemical fertilizers causes what would have been arable land, to turn to what is considered useless for further agriculture (the Dust Bowl of the 1930s). Depending on the intensity of these practices, lands are destroyed in very short amounts of time.
With the second example, most mono-crops are produced using GMO seed and heavy amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This causes an immense amount of ecological destruction. GMO seeds breed sterile, so the farmers are forced to buy seed from the original seed company. Also they contain roving genes which can attach themselves to other plants of similar species.
This also happens quite frequently with crops such as corn. Organic farms are only allowed to use hybrids which do not produce true seed, but are not GMO’d or open pollinated seed (which produces true seed), which the farmers can use for their next planting.
On the other hand, places that have used companion planting instead of pesticides; and composting instead of chemical fertilizers, have been known to thrive for thousands of years if tended properly. Such as the ancient Mayan systems in Mexico and Central America, which are to this day being heavily studied by agriculturalists from around the world.
The father of permaculture Bill Mollison wished to teach us ways to work in harmony with the Earth. The designs, techniques and practical implementation of such things vary quite a bit around the world, but the core principles, the center of the science remain the same.
As I previously stated. This is number one. What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We have a choice.
Working with and continuously observing and learning from the world around us.
Learning to tend to our Earth correctly.
For the local environment, the people, and the future impact our work will have on those factors.
Circular synergy, or ‘flow’ as the term was originally stated. In a well designed system everything has a well designed function, many things have multiple functions. They all must flow from one use to the next. In a well designed system there is zero waste and constant circular flow.
What Is Permaculture?
Learning to responsibly tend, in a sustainable manner, the Earth we live on. It is an ever evolving science that gives us the knowledge and tools to give back the love, and light to the Earth which it freely shares with us.
Thank you once again to Permaculture for giving us the tools and the education we need to use to build a sustainable and harmonic future for all of Earth’s creatures.