Continuing on from our last blog, when we speak of permaculture we are not speaking of manicured lawns or inedible flowered landscapes, as pretty as those may be. I live in an area now that is surrounded by native growing brush and trees, and I have found that it is so much more beautiful than the lawns we create for ourselves with flowerbeds and such. In my lifetime growing up in England it was normal to have a vegetable garden in the backyard, and the ‘beautiful’ lawns in the front. Permaculture is based on allowing nature to do what it is good at, which is growing plants, both edible and inedible, in a native and natural situation. A lot of what we know in growing plants, such as tilling the land and growing one plant in a large area, just doesn’t make sense. I live on a forested island where such things are unheard of – everything is growing naturally and extremely healthily without the help of humans of course. That really, is where we will have to get to in order to sustain life into any meaningful future. We have lived this way for thousands of years before we started using agriculture as a survival measure, and can return to this way of life again. We certainly at this point do not have thousands of years left to live in the way that we are currently, using up the earth and its resources far too quickly and with little care for what goes back into it. We have to change what we are doing quite radically. Agriculture is beginning to fail us, agriculture being the creation of large swathes of land where we grow crops in a concentrated manner. The most supreme evidence of madness in agriculture is genetically modified organisms by the likes of Dow and Monsanto. GMO’s are leading us into a cataclysmic situation, because of monocultures, the pests becoming immune to the pesticides, and we’re depending again on nitrogen based fertilizers which are based on fossil fuels. If we are being completely optimist, we have about 3 to 400 years of fossil fuels left.
So going back to permaculture, one of its main tenets is that we grow crops naturally in what looks like what nature has given us. Most of us have some land, and have some ability to have a garden. One can even have a permacultural edible garden, as Bill Mollison showed in his documentary, on a balcony of an apartment home. It’s doable. All of us have to get to a point where we can have our own edible gardens. I too need to fall into that category as I haven’t done enough myself yet. I do encourage everyone to look at that aspect of permaculture. Permaculture covers all tenets of life for human beings – things like reusing what is out there at the moment. We’ve spent the best part of 3 to 400 years making things out of various items like wood, metal and their derivatives as well as plastics, and there’s a lot of that stuff that is out there that can be reused. We are doing a good deal of that, as recycling is fairly prevalent everywhere, though often when you dig under the covers it’s not as efficient as you think, hence the sea of plastic in the ocean. There is the awareness though, which is important for the foothold to take place. There IS a lot more to be done though, and permaculture is a big part of that, with residences being built of recycled materials and such. To many people that is a bit more an esoteric goal than to simply grow a permacultural garden, but the more one learns about permaculture, the more things of this nature will make sense.
Probably those of us that are near my age will not see any wrenching changes to do with a lifestyle like this, but the longer term effects of running out of resources will happen as every resource is finite, whether it is in our lifetime or not. I encourage all of the readers of this blog to go out and research permaculture, whether it be through the internet training, or one or more of the books available. It is certainly without doubt, a way of the future. As we go around in life, let us be aware of concentrations of power and the people who perpetrate those. It’s not just corporations or government powers, it can be in any walk of life. Even constructs who on the surface appear to be ‘good’ can often be there to control others and assimilate power. We need to be able to live more equitably rather than wanting to grab power and hold influence over everyone. Thank you for taking part in this blog and I look forward to our next piece.