Permaculture: A Holistic System


“To let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them.”  – Bill Mollison

Quite a few people have asked me what Permaculture is and they ask me like they are supposed to know the response.  I didn’t know what Permaculture was when I walked into my first day of class 12 days ago,  I just knew that I wanted to be there, on that farm in Lyons, CO, digging my hands into some serious dirt and finding myself lost in endless conversations on a different way of life. Further knowledge on medicinal plants is what sold me on attending the course, but really, I had dabbled in all of this “permaculture stuff”  in previous education back in my college days.  “Why are you attending this course?” friends and family have asked me and I answer with this:   I want to live WITH the Earth, not against it.

Erin, one of my many teachers, told us that there are endless ways to explain Permaculture. If you google the term “Permaculture” you find definitions like these:  Wikapedia states:  “Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies.”   Permaculture, defined on, says,  “Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.”

Yeah, exactly, SO much more.  Technically, from what I gather, permaculture is based around three fundamental concepts.  Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.  It’s an ethical framework of sorts, exploring how the earth and human nature function and concluding with a design approach to allow humans to live in a system that supports their natural environment.  By providing a homestead that nurtures the land and it’s animals in it, humans benefit as well.

The outcome? An ecological system that is NOT competing but cooperating with itself.  Permaculture asks us to create systems that thrive and give back in abundance, including all the things we throw the green dollar towards: food, medicine, and community.  In a sense, permaculture teaches us to mimic what nature already is; a fluid self-sustaining system of companionship and support. The truth is, it’s not important if we know or don’t know the perfect definition of permaculture.   I’m not concerned with the term.  I’m concerned with the lessons that Permaculture drives us to learn; the lessons maybe we already do know deep down in our genetic code.

Native Americans and countless other indigenous communities knew, and STILL know.  Why are the rest of our “advanced”, “first world” cultures so out of the know?  How did we get here,  so incredibly removed from the very things that are vital to our existence?   Why can our children list off hundreds of logos from corporate branding campaigns, but not more than 5 named plant species from their own backyards?  Our thumbs move at an incredible speed, texting friends from across the room, while our verbal communication skills dwindle.  Our finger nails remain clean, feet polished, but where are  our favorite grass stained jeans?

There is this misconception that connecting with our backyards and growing nutrient rich foods is an expensive endeavour.  Just this morning my sister told me she wanted to re-design her back yard but that it was just too expensive.  She would be “splurging” on two rose bushes later this spring.  No offense, rose bushes are beautiful and I love the smell. Actually, I lie. I don’t really like the smell of roses.  I have snagged many clothing items on those rather razor like thorns and don’t really understand what all the hype is.  You can harvest the rose hips, they are a great source for vitamin C, but I doubt that was her reasoning for including these florid flora into her landscape.

Instead of planting roses in her east coast backyard, why not plant something NATIVE?  Ah ha. Wouldn’t that be something?  Or maybe something edible, medicinal, or SOFT?  The cost of two rose bushes, the non-organic kind (and I say that light-heartedly) is about $18.95 including tax.  She could buy a total of 6 packets of seeds that would give her an incredible abundance of edible, beautiful plants in her yard.  For instance, tomatoes grow like little red jewels of Gods on the East coast due to the high humidity and rainfall.  Chives, dill, cucumber, echinacea!  Oh, the possibilities for not only esthetically BEAUTIFUL plants, but nutritious plants as well!  AND if she re-positioned her gutters, the rain water she could collect….. well, that’s another topic.

The point is, is that we need to reconnect with our land,  we need to reconnect with ourselves and we need to turn our cell phones OFF.  All of the community that we are eager to connect with, the nutrition and health that we would like to nurture our bodies with, and the peace we are seeking to lessen the chaos of our lives, is all found in nature. If this is the case, why are we paving it and sweeping it clean of its medicinal properties?  Why are we quick to divert rainwater into a massive, turbulent stream of run-off, stripping our soil’s magic and rushing it off (along with all our chemicals and toxins) into the oceans when we could be diverting it, in its pure state, into our gardens? Why are we not going with the flow but against the tide natures natural way of being?  So many “whys” that will hopefully  be addressed here in this blog.

Anyway……. back to permaculture.  It’s incredible.  It’s a modern name for ancient concepts.  It’s connecting US to the land and the LAND to us.  So let’s all say goodbye to our past ideals and welcome in the new ones.


Until SOON.


lil chick





One response to this post.

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