Originally published March 7 2012
How to start practicing permaculture right now
by Christina Luisa
(NaturalNews) Permaculture is a fundamental approach to food production and urban renewal, water, energy and pollution. It is based on the ethics of caring for people and our planet. It is about growing your own healthy food, being resourceful and environmentally responsible. Permaculture concepts, design principles and ideas can be applied successfully to anything from small suburban units to large farming properties.
According to Bill Mollison, permaculture integrates ecology, organic gardening, architecture, landscape and agro-forestry into the creation of a rich and sustainable way of living. Not only does it use appropriate technology that provide high yields for low energy inputs, it strives to create a resource that is both stable and incredibly diverse.
Permaculture design ethics include:
• Care of the earth ("Earth Care")
• Care of people and all other species ("People Care")
• Limiting consumption; sharing surplus ("Fair Shares")
The core principles of Permaculture are explained in detail here: http://www.permacultureprinciples.com/principles.php
Here is an easy-to-follow guide on four great ways to start incorporating permaculture practices into your own life.
Get into the habit of observing natureStart to closely observe natural elements and designs such as sunlight patterns, moon phases, the direction of tree growth, where and how water collects and where plants don't grow well in your native area. Don't forget to extend your observation to patterns in human nature as well. For example, pay attention to what kinds of work young children enjoy and don't enjoy, or how your coworkers tend to behave at certain phases of a project. What time of day is your mind most receptive to trying new ideas?
It is also important to observe the needs of anything you want to nurture, whether it is a garden, a plant, an animal, a friend or a business partner. If you want to grow herbs or raise chickens, find out what conditions they need so you can adjust your micro-climate accordingly.
Develop a design-oriented mindLook around you and imagine ways to apply the permaculture ethics and principles to the design of everything you notice. A good way to begin developing your eye for design would be to choose a permaculture principle that especially resonates with you personally and find ways to implement it in various areas of your personal life.
For example, if you really love the permaculture principles of "using and valuing diversity" and "using small and slow solutions," then make a list of ways you can diversify your daily activities in a simple, non-wasteful way. Design grocery shopping lists that include a variety of simple, local and seasonal foods, and make your shopping trips include tasks for the whole family, since one of the most important aspects of permaculture is the rebuilding of community.
Create a simple and ecological permaculture gardenEcological gardening involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants and can be done on any scale. It's a fun and easy way to create a "backyard ecosystem" by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:
• Composing and maintaining soil fertility
• Catching and conserving water in the landscape
• Providing a habitat for various animals, insects and birds
• Growing an edible "mini forest" that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods
Many beginning books on permaculture as well as online sources explain how to complete a variety of useful projects such as making your own herb fertilizers and compost or creating homemade organic sprays for pest control.
To learn more about creating permaculture gardens, check out this article: http://www.naturalnews.com/035038_permaculture_gardening_how_to.html
Take a permaculture design courseStudy and practice permaculture principles in-depth by looking into affordable local permaculture design courses. You'll learn to practice sustainable design in your everyday life, strengthen your connection with nature and develop your creativity and intuition.
In the process, you'll also get an interesting tour of various permaculture practices from all over the world - all of which you can adapt to your own situation. Most permaculture classes offer an extraordinarily rich community as well, giving you the opportunity to improve your understanding of this holistic design system and create lifelong friendships and business partnerships. If you don't want to take a general course on permaculture design, research specific elements of permaculture such as local food systems, self-reliance, growing food, traditional skills, beekeeping, small-scale organic farming and ways to build community.
For a list of sources and videos on permaculture, check out the list of links at the bottom of this article: http://www.youtube.com
Sources for this article and further reading include:
2. Hemenway, Toby. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. White River Jct., Vermont: Chelsea Green, May 2009
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