20 April, 2009

Principles of Permaculture

Through out the permaculture culture, you will see the following ideas presented over and over again with this or similar wording.

Permaculture Design Principles

1.Observe and interact – what is there? How is that a benefit, what can we find in that to further our project?
2.Catch and store energy – sun, water – grab what we can with as little effort as we can, in plant biomass, especially seeds, but also solar and hydro power, wind power.... soil humus as a possible carbon sink that increases our soil fertility and also sequesters carbon from the atmosphere (one of the greenhouse gases)..
3.Obtain a yield – because you gotta eat, but grow it in aesthetically pleasing designs and include flowers and other elements to keep the whole thing beautiful; harvest for flexibility and supply of needs over a long period.
4.Apply self-regulation and accept feedback – much negative feedback from our involvement with nature comes about slowly – it takes several generations, in many cases for us to find the damage done to nature through stupid human tricks, but willingness to look for negative impacts to the earth is a part of the permie code of culture... The first priority is to survive (principle 3), while the second is to pay for what we get in some way that helps maintain the future flow of energy.
5.Use and value renewable resources and services – aim to make the best use of renewable energy even if some non-renewable resource is needed to establish the system – renewable services (also called passive functions) are those gained from plants animals, soil and water - without consuming them – I e a flower that is used by a bee for honey, chicken manure for fertilizer
6.Produce no waste – frugality and the care of tools – the opposite of a throw-away society; refuse, reduce, reuse, repair and recycle
7.Design from patterns to details – commonality of patterns in nature and society helps make sense of what is seen and from that extrapolation to designing systems that work within nature and society vs. against it
8.Integrate rather than segregate – connections between things – organisms, ecosystems – in nature are often more important than the things themselves – cross fertilization of ideas from different cultures stacking of plants/ecosystems to produce more from one small area of earth
9.Use small and slow solutions – if there ever was a principle that was in direct conflict with our national concept of reality, this is the one. However, small and slow solutions are invariably those solutions that work best and actually solve problems – and if they do cause problems they, in turn will be small, if not also slow – reduction in speed is also a reduction in total movement and energy expense
10.Use and value diversity – monoculture is one of modern society's biggest follies and is guaranteed to bring about a disaster that will leave our civilization on the brink one day – you heard it here first...
11.Use edges and value the marginal – shelterbelts and hedgerows in traditional English horticulture can be among the most productive areas in a farm; marginal land will be the land that most gardens/farms of the future will be built on
12.Creatively use and respond to change – recognize that what is designed today that conserves energy/water and other resources, will lead to further exploration and discovery – willingly seek that change and adapt to it, incorporate a flexibility into projects that allows for a constant updating.

I relied heavily on Permaculture, Principcles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, by David Holmgren in preparing this list.


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