In a time that often seems dominated by conflict, economic deprivation and environmental destruction, Permaculture points into a different direction and offers opportunity.
The Permaculture designer starts with observing and aiming to understand natural patterns that surround us, in order to apply them and create gardens, lifestyles and a world of plenty, rather than scarcity.
All too often we see human endeavours, such as agriculture, result in downward spirals, depleting the resources they depend on. Turning these spirals of erosion into spirals of abundance, and recreating ecosystems and neighbourhoods that don’t just survive, but actually thrive, is the designer’s work. And he or she does so by mimicking the example of the natural world.
Scarcity, as we experience it in our lives, is a human invention, created by the economic system. Natural systems, however, are usually characterised by abundance and redundancy; an apple tree can produce hundreds of apples and maybe thousands of seeds. Not all of these seeds grow into new apple trees, but all of them are reused by the ecosystem to continue life. Squirrels plant forests as they bury an abundance of acorns, beech seeds and chestnuts underground in the hope to store them for the winter.
The cyclical nature of all life, it’s constant coming and going, is what keeps ecosystems alive and healthy. The concept of waste does not exist in the natural world, as the so-called waste product of one species becomes a resource for another. The manure of a cow becomes the food for microorganisms and plants, the leaf-fall of the tree turns into soil, feeding again the tree. This exchange of resources amongst animals, plants and other natural elements creates a complex web of interrelatedness that we can only begin to untangle and understand.
On a Permaculture Design Course we explore principles as well as practical tools and techniques that help us create regenerative and low-maintenance landscapes and gardens, resilient communities and meaningful livelihoods that work with nature, rather than against.
Tribewanted Monestevole in Umbria, Italy, serves as a perfect example of how a Permaculture lifestyle does not equal a lifestyle of austerity but rather of plenty and abundance. Organic food is grown on the land keeping the gardeners healthy and in touch with the natural world, connections are made and sharing and caring facilitated through educational programmes and the community and their guests enjoy communal living and the treasures of the local bioregion as part of everyday life.
While places like these seem to belong to a different world that for many of us seems far from reality, their existence shows the realm of possibility. Learning about Permaculture is a step towards the life you want, a life of abundance in cooperation with the natural world. In the midst of scarcity, conflict and environmental destruction, Permaculture tells a different story…
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