Diploma in Apllied Permaculture Design. www.permacultureclub.org.uk
NEW PERMACULTURE WEBSITE: www.permaculture.org.uk
Full Permaculture Design
The Apricot Centre, Essex. UK [Map]
with Marina O'Connell. Integrating the design of the home and garden to help create a more sustainable and satisfying lifestyle at home. With Other teachers. Please look at the apricot centre website
Permaculture Explained Taken from http://www.permaculture.org.uk/mm.asp?mmfile=whatispermaculture 1/1/09 Thanks.
The Global Vision
is an old saying: 'Civilised man has marched across the face of the
earth and left a desert in his footprints.' (Carter and Dale, Topsoil
and Civilization, p.6) Today, worldwide, on land once rich with natural
vegetation, we see deserts denuded of their topsoil, deserts of
salt-encrusted soil from years of irrigation, deserts due to widespread
deforestation having altered the regional climate.
The problem from a permaculture perspective has been a lack of design. Agriculture, from its invention and reinvention from some 10,000 years ago onwards, has generally involved a crude process of clearing the wilderness and establishing a cycle of digging or ploughing, then seeding with a few useful species, primarily grasses,then harvesting the crop to feed humans and livestock - and the cycle begins again year on year until the land is exhausted - after which a new area of wilderness is cleared. Perhaps humans devised this system after surviving for a million years or so by hunting and gathering, and learning that regular firing of the undergrowth encouraged fresh sprouting pioneer species which were more nutritious for people and the grazing herds we hunted than did the stable, mature forest.
The solution from a permaculture perspective is to introduce design into agriculture in order to create permanent high-yielding agricultural ecosystems, so that humans can thrive on as little land as possible, thus leaving as much land as possible as wilderness, if necessary helping the wilderness re-establish itself. This visionary global mission is encapsulated in the word 'permaculture', a shortened form of 'permanent agriculture'.
In order to implement this global vision, we need local solutions, because every place on earth is different in local climate, land form, soils, and the combinations of species which will thrive. Not only does the land and its potential vary from place to place, but so do the people vary in their needs and preferences and their capacities. Every place and community requires its own particular design. Hence at the local level, permaculture designers often refer to permaculture as being about designing for 'permanent culture'.
The global vision can be lost sight of in the nitty-gritty of 'permanent culture' designing for local sustainability. But the vision is vital and can inspire us to keep going in the face of obstruction and apathy.
Bill Mollison Explains
Bill Mollison explains why freeing land for wilderness matters even for those who think only people matter:
'Even anthropocentric people would be well-advised to pay close attention to, and to assist in, the conservation of existing forests and the rehabilitation of degraded lands. Our own survival demands that we preserve all existing species, and allow them a place to live.
We have abused the land and laid waste to systems we need never have disturbed had we attended to our home gardens and settlements. If we need to state a set of ethics on natural systems, then let it be thus:
Implacable and uncompromising opposition to further disturbance of any remaining natural forests, where most species are still in balance;
Vigorous rehabilitation of degraded and damaged natural systems to stable states;
Establishment of plant systems for our own use on the least amount of land we can use for our existence; and
Establishment of plant and animal refuges for rare or threatened species.
Permaculture as a design system deals primarily with the third statement above, but all people who act responsibly in fact subscribe to the first and second statements. That said, I believe we should use all the species we need or can find to use in our own settlement designs, providing they are not locally rampant and invasive.
Whether we approve of it or not, the world about us continually changes. Some would want to keep everything the same, but history, palaeontology, and common sense tells us that all has changed, is changing, will change. In a world where we are losing forests, species, and whole ecosystems, there are three concurrent and parallel responses to the environment:
CARE FOR SURVIVING NATURAL ASSEMBLIES, to leave the wilderness to heal itself;
REHABILITATE DEGRADED OR ERODED LAND using complex pioneer species and long-term plant assemblies (trees, shrubs, ground covers);
CREATE OUR OWN COMPLEX LIVING ENVIRONMENT with as many species as we can save, or have need for, from wherever on earth they come.
We are fast approaching the point where we need refuges for all global life forms, as well as regional, national, or state parks for indigenous forms of plants and animals. While we see our local flora and fauna as "native", we may also logically see all life as "native to earth". While we try to preserve systems that are still local and diverse, we should also build new or recombinant ecologies from global resources, especially in order to stabilise degraded lands.'
Bill Mollision, Permaculture: A Practical Guide for a Sustainable Future, p.6
Permaculture in Practice
is about creating sustainable human habitats by following nature's
patterns." It uses the diversity, stability and resilience of natural
ecosystems to provide a framework and guidance for people to develop
their own sustainable solutions to the problems facing their world, on a
local, national or global scale. It is based on the philosophy of
co-operation with nature and caring for the earth and its people.
A system of design
"Maximum contemplation; minimum action"
Permaculture is about thinking before you act.
Permaculture is not a set of rules; it is a process of design based around principles found in the natural world, of co-operation and mutually beneficial relationships, and translating these principles into actions.
This action can range from choosing what you eat, how you travel, the type of work you do, and where you live, to working with others to create a community food-growing project. It's about making decisions that relate to all your other decisions; so one area of your life is not working against another. For example, if you are planning a journey, consider other tasks that can be completed on the way to your destination (combining a trip to the leisure centre with buying food on the way home, for example).
It means thinking about your life or project as a whole system - working out the most effective way to do things that involves the least effort and the least damage to others, and looking for ways to make relationships more beneficial.
It is essential to observe your surroundings before making choices. Taking stock at the beginning of a project (whether it be building a house or planting a window box) of the available resources in terms of time, materials, skills, money, opportunities, land etc, and thinking about how these resources can relate to each other is a useful basis for designing a sustainable and effective system. To take the example of a garden - careful observation over the course of a few months can give information about the sunniest spots, the path of a neighbourhood fox, which areas are sheltered from the wind. Such information is not always immediately available, but can ultimately be very important.
A key feature of the design process in permaculture is "zoning". This is about placing things appropriately in relation to each other, and works on the principle that those things which require frequent attention are placed closest to the home. It is about using time, energy and resources wisely, which can be as simple as planting your most used herbs nearest to your kitchen, or as complex as planning a community.
Ethics and Principles
"If we want to move on and create sustainability and a more fulfilling quality of life, the best way to do this is to understand the nature of the world and to live harmoniously and creatively with it - to understand that we are a part of the web of life, not separate from it."
Permaculture embodies a system of ethics and principles that we aim to put into practice. These focus around sustainability and fairness, and are generally divided into three main categories:
Permaculture as a design system is based on natural systems. It is about working with nature, not against it - not using natural resources unnecessarily or at a rate at which they cannot be replaced. It also means using outputs from one system as inputs for another (vegetable peelings as compost, for example), and so minimising wastage.
People care is about looking after us as people, not just the world we live in. It works on both an individual and a community level. Self-reliance, co-operation and support of each other should be encouraged. It is, however, important to look after ourselves on an individual level too. Our skills are of no use to anyone if we are too tired to do anything useful! People care is also about our legacy to future generations.
The fair shares part of the permaculture ethic brings earth care and people care together. We only have one earth, and we have to share it - with each other, with other living things, and with future generations. This means limiting our consumption, especially of natural resources, and working for everyone to have access to the fundamental needs of life - clean water, clean air, food, shelter, meaningful employment, and social contact.
Permaculture does not provide prescriptive solutions to the problems facing the world - nobody is going to demand that you put an herb spiral in the bottom left corner of your garden, or wear only hand knitted recycled non-bleached organic fair trade clothes. It is about allowing you the freedom to observe your surroundings, and make decisions that will work for you, in your situation, using the resources you have.
Self-Reliance and Community Sufficiency
"We try to empower people to take control of their own lives. If you can see something needs doing, then give yourself permission to do it"
Permaculture seeks to foster the skills, confidence and imagination to enable people to become self-reliant, and to seek creative solutions to problems on a global or local scale. While the individual has a part to play, in most places it is not realistic for an individual household to provide for all of their own needs in terms of food, clothing, work etc, and the emphasis is more on self-reliance and increased sufficiency within the community, rather than individual self-sufficiency.
In practice, this does not mean each person growing enough food to feed themselves in their back garden; it means that as many as possible of the inputs for a community (food, skills etc) come from within that community - perhaps in the form of community food growing schemes, Local Exchange and Trading Systems to exchange skills and produce etc.
Permaculture means different things to different people. One person may interpret it in a practical sense in terms of growing food, perhaps, while another will focus on a more spiritual side. This diversity is important; it helps to keep a sense of balance, and encourages people to share their resources and knowledge with others.
Working together is the key - it takes a lot of strain off the individual. It also is important to be well informed and if you can help others, spread your knowledge in return.
Vernon Gill Carter and Tom Dale, Topsoil and Civilization, University of Oklahoma Press, 1974
Bill Mollision, Permaculture: A Practical Guide for a Sustainable Future, Island Press, 1990
Graham Bell, in Members' Handbook, Permaculture Association
Graham Burnett (2000) Permaculture - A Beginner's Guide, Westcliff On Sea, Land and Liberty.
Steve Charter (1999) Working with Nature. Glastonbury, Unique Publications.
Taken from http://www.permaculture.org.uk/mm.asp?mmfile=whatispermaculture 1/1/09 Thanks.