When we first started growing food we made compost piles, plant remains would be loaded onto a wheelbarrow and transported to designated heaps, occasionally turned by hand. The rotted material would eventually be transported back to where it came from, and laboriously spread sometimes raked. We also grew the same food crops that we had become accustomed too, almost entirely annuals and grown in mini mono-crop fashion as we new no different, until we discovered Permaculture.
Rather than techniques and tasks, Permaculture draws your attention towards natural patterns, with the intention of harmonizing human requirements with natural flows. For example wild places drop all sorts of biological material to the ground, where it feeds the soil ecology which intern feeds the plants. The directive here is to apply raw vegetative matter directly to the soil called a Mulch, cutting out labour, it also initiates a broad spectrum of ecology which in turn maintains balance.
The sun is an excellent heater, it rises in the east and sets in the west. Rather than position a house facing the road, but instead face it south to make best use of natural heat. If we also place most windows on the southern side and insulate well, coupled with internal thermal mass, this type of house will be extremely energy efficient. This is the basic principle of a solar passive house.
When we grew only typical annual crops we would suffer all kinds of damage until we replaced compost mulches for raw mulches and adopted mostly perennial crops( plants that live more than two years.) Slugs love young and tender annual plants, coupled with bare soil, which provides slugs with easy sub soil access to acquire sanctuary and breeding possibilities. With the application of a mulch, natural predators move in and manage excessive slug populations. By selecting long lived crops, or growing things using different methods, for example; tending naturalised potato’s by using foraging directives. Potatoes are harvested and planted at the same time, no further preparation needed except a thick mulch. A life close to nature, takes out the drudgery, growing food for us is easier than shopping or chasing money, and far more rewarding.
Every crop species or varient we grow is continually observed to determine its ability to survive neglect under various conditions. Observing a plants capabilities is an essential process to broaden the potential of establishing a good crop that requires minimal intervention. An important Permaculture principle is “observe and interact” we have to know how nature works if we want to work with it. Rather than the pursuit of instruction or gathering of irrelevant information, the greatest skill of all is to minimise effort by allowing everything to cooperate with you, “a man who rows a boat uses effort, but one who puts up a sail uses Permaculture” A.W.
Most Industrial Annual crops that have been selectively bred for commercial activities require considerable care and soil management, which currently equates to 10 fossil fuel calories for every calorie of food produced. Also nearly all historical famines have occurred by becoming overly dependant upon too few annual crops. Commercial preferences have equally compounded problems by selecting and prioritising tolerances to portability, perishability, size, flavour and texture. The side-effects of this selective process can compromise nutrition and flavour, and lead to sensitive plants that may require intensive cultivation. An example of reduced nutrition is with Alpha-Linolenic Acid or better known as Omega 3 fatty acids, which is essential for healthy bodily development and maintenance. The problem with these acids is that high levels reduce shelf life of vegetables, industrial farmers have been unwittingly breeding vegetables that will store well, but contain less essential fatty acids. Wild Purslane contains 4 times the Omega-3 as cultivated spinach, and higher concentrations of flavonoids and antioxidants. Wilder plants are also more resistant to disease and generally better adapted to survive than cultivated ones. All modern crops have a wild ancestor still thriving somewhere within a balanced community, they do not require human intervention. Our research has shown that by selecting self seeding or perennial crops that consistently naturalise we can move beyond typical agricultural methods and create self sustaining polycultures that allow gentle foraging and low to no cultivation methods.
There has never been a greater time to create abundant living environments, by selecting appropriate information to pursue a life that builds resilience, connection and well being. We can replace lawns with food forests, build humble houses that heat & cool naturally, every aspect of life can benefit from harmonious design. We dont have to be so externally dependant upon central systems and inflating prices, or move from where we currently are. The application of permaculture to our own circumstance is transformative, and way more interesting than supporting the failing monopoly World, the application of Permaculture is peaceful revolution, no other action that I know of has greater effect.
If you wish to see demonstrations of Permaculture, please find the tours and courses page to visit Permaculture Island family site.
WEF response; probably communism…
The Isle Of Wight has the potential to create a more diverse and accessible Permaculture Island site for visitors and Island residents. Our current family site has received a great increase of interest, we are convinced its time to prepare for a much larger site, to include a multitude of services including visitors centre, educational complex and school, demonstrations of permaculture, green waste recycling, family play areas, natural burial…. we look forward to establishing a appropriate team and suitable site. Gavin Roberts