Permaculture Series – Permaculture is Neither Gardening nor Farming

What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options, we need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical gangs that are doing that.” ~Dr. David Suzuki geneticist, broadcaster and international environmental advocate

 The first time I saw the term “Permaculture” it was on the “12 X 12” book by William Powers.

I also thought he was referring to some fort of “gardening”.  Then I watched Permaculture videos on Youtube and the concept of being a gardening/farming series of awesome techniques was reinforced. But then I got some books, and I started to understand that Permaculture is a philosophy, a way of life, a series of strategies to live more sustainably and respect Nature.

Last August, I took the plunge and enrolled to a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) course and had the wonderful opportunity to go (for a second time) to O.U.R. Ecovillage  , a place where Permaculture is alive: you can breath, eat, share, connect, build, create, relax and enjoy Permaculture with other “Permies” who are there as students, interns, visitors or residents.

So, if Permaculture is not about gardening, why so many videos and books about composting, hugelkultur, guilds and edible landscapes?

Three explanations:

  1. Permaculture principles make sure you work with nature and not against it, therefore, you need to observe Nature, and this observation starts in your own garden, in your community green spaces and in the forest.
  2. We need to take food back from the hands of corporations, governments and businesses. Food is our most basic need and right, it cannot be a “commodity”. What better way to take food back than growing it yourself?
  3. Permaculture’s “father” Bill Mollison says in his seminal book “Permaculture: a designer’s manual”:  “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.” Taking responsibility for you and your children means to make sure the world you live in and the world you allow your children to inherit has to be a healthy, worth living world.  Taking care of Nature makes sure they will have a world to inherit, food and enough resources to cover their needs.

But if Permaculture is neither gardening nor farming, what is it?

Permaculture is a design system that works toward establishing productive environments – providing for food, shelter, energy, waste recycling, material & non-material need – as well as the social & economic infrastructures that support them. It aims to create systems that will sustain the present as well as future generations.”  ~ Anon

As you can see, Permaculture is about life and how we support it. You can learn Permaculture and specialize in areas such as Education, Community Service, Finance and Business (yep!), Land/Site Design, Media, Site Development, technical development, Resource Development, Architecture Building and Research. (check more about this topic here)

For those who don’t want to get your hands dirty, I invite you to re-think where your food comes from and join us in this quiet and peaceful revolution to take back the power of the seeds, the power that growing your own food gives to you. Same for those not feeling so confident they can build a wall, use tools to repair something they use, create tools, work with your hands. This society has made us think we are not able, because that is a good way for others to take control over us. We have been taught that we are “all equal” (we are not) but then asked to “specialize” and spend a whole life working behind a desk or producing things nobody cares or want.

The reality is that even when we are different from each other, we all were born with the basic “equipment” (except for those who are sick or physically unable) to care for our more basic needs.

And there is nothing more empowering than going out and know that you can build yourself a shelter, grow or find food, find and harvest water and keep you all warm and safe.

That is what Permaculture is: an empowering tool for a necessary revolution.

 “The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. Hence the futility of revolutionaries who have no gardens, who depend on the very system they attack, and who produce words and bullets, not food and shelter.”
~ Bill Mollison

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