We were recently introduced to a Permaculturist. Then we passed the word around Playful Planet,
“Hey, have you heard of Permaculture? Do you know what it is?”
“Um…no…Does it have something to do with getting a perm?”
No, friends. Permaculture is not about perms or highlights, I promise. It’s really fantastic.
In a nutshell,
Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.
So what does “working with, rather than against nature” really mean?
Today all you need to do to see the variety of ways to grow your own beautiful gardens is to hit up Pinterest. But with permaculture, sustainability is different in that its focus is not on what can be given to you from your surroundings, but how you can contribute to the natural reproductive cycle of all living things in your surroundings.
I like to think of this as utilizing what you have around you that is already actively sustaining rather than turning your surroundings into something it wasn’t meant to be simply to service your needs.
Gardening, farming, sustaining…are necessary and valuable functions, but permaculture reminds us that these activities need not be manufactured.
So, back to our example. Sheet mulching. Instead of taking over another plot of land to build gardens or till up fields, permaculture uses the idea that a human can head to where conditions are ripe for the picking, so to speak. This is what you do when you are sheet mulching–allowing the environment to be utilized by you in a place where it is already doing the work you’ll need!
Sheet mulching is best done under a tree, for example, as the water run-off and ground moisture are condusive to the needs of the soil. All you need is that cardboard you were going to recycle, then you add some compost, and just like that, you watch a thriving garden replenish itself year after year. To learn the steps taken to do this, Read more.
There is a lot to be said about Permaculture. In short, it makes sense. For generations people have looked to the land for what it can give us, and then we’ve changed the natural landscape and ecosystems to meet those needs. Permaculture is a valuable line of thinking in which one chooses to allow nature to take its course, which (naturally) leads to the thriving of the planet’s ecosystems, benefiting all living things, including the people who were looking to benefit over all this time by making damaging changes.
The philosophy of Permaculture is one that is much broader than it may first appear. When we step back and work with nature, to give and take equally, we also create lasting changes in community, governments, and all other social systems. To read more about that and many other topics on Permaculture, head on over to The Permaculture Resource Institute.
Other great posts on permaculture: