View Full Version : how has permaculture changed you? - (not just your garden)
04-04-2004, 09:18 PM
apart from the gardening side of things, how has your life changed since discovering permaculture and sustainable systems principles? do you implement these principles in other areas of your life?
how have you handled the transition from mostly dependent (food/health/housing etc) to mostly or fully independent? roughly how much time p/week do you spend working in your home garden/property, especially if you have another job?
i think that's all the questions for the moment........
05-04-2004, 11:14 AM
ah. good questions. well focussed. and worth replying too - observation and reflection - key permaculture principles...
hard to work out whether permaculture has changed me...think it has been more part of a natural progression and permacultural ideas have become the logical step...maybe there is another, or another - who knows.
we are by no means fully independant - and wouldn't want to be - peramculture is not self sufficiency...in many ways permaculture should reject slef-reliance, and focus more on allowing entire systems to support each other...so the biggest change has been the commitment to community...
i have always been invloved in stuff, but now i see the reason and purpose. i realised the other day we trade and barter all the time in many different ways - but not through a complicated LETS scheme or some 'alternative' economy...we just do it as a matter of course...because that is what communities (systems) do.
might spend a total of 3-4 hours in the garden, working - probably more not working, just wandering and eating and drinking peppermint tea...
i have found a suitable part-time job - which will give me 4 days at home. of course work at home includes baking bread, making yogurt and tofu, bottling, preserving in other ways, playing with the kids, helping out neighbours, fixing stuff around the place - all valid work...but on my terms, in my environment and surrounded by those i love.
the biggest change i noticed recently was how little processed food my family eats - and then i realised that what processed food we do eat - we process about 70-80% of it...that feels good. that makes you realise how much energy you can save and the impact you can have on yourself, your family, community and the wider world.
the key is - i don't do all this thinking, 'aren't i a great permaculturalist...' because permaculture isn't the focus. the focus is family, community and the feelings of love, prode, admiration and respect that come with that.
05-04-2004, 12:05 PM
Many years ago when we were young and enthusiastic... we had a farm. It was an apple orchard with some stone-fruit. When apples are grown, they are sprayed 24 times before they are picked - just thought I'd let you know. Stone fruit aren't sprayed as much, but they are dipped in a fungicide so they don't rot on the way to the supermarket. Yumm yum eh?
Anyway, we began to turn the property into an organic farm and ran into all sorts of problems. (pre-Permaculture) This was before the days when prople wanted organic food, and we had a lot of trouble selling our fruit! The supermarkets didn't want the stonefruit because it didn't have such a long enough shelf life. Long story short, we pushed out all the fruit trees and grew cows.
We were poor then, all our money going into paying off the farm and fixing fences, buying stock etc. We produced pretty much all our own food, which was just as well, as we couldn't afford to buy it! We used to get a razzing from friends and neighbours though when our daughter went to school with 'Duck a la orange' sandwiches... (I raised the ducks and oranges were $5 for 5 kilos... just because your poor, doesn't mean you can't eat well.)
I built up a flock of sheep from lambs I got from the slaughter-yards. At the time sheep prices were very high, so farmers were selling pregnant ewes because they were heavier... If the ewe dropped its lamb at the abattoir, the lambs were dispatched and discarded. I raised about 70 lambs and if I could have coped with more, would have taken more just to save them from such a terrible fate.
We had pigs and chooks, geese, ducks and milking cows. We had nut trees and just about every fruit tree that could be grown in that climate (cool/temperate). I preserved by freezing and bottling and drying.
Through a series of tragedies, this life-style came to an abrupt end and we found ourselves living in the city where we developed one of those Latte lifestyles. I must say, it was great fun at first not to have to work so hard and to have a few nice things - big house, no animals to look after. But of course we soon got tired of the superficiality of it and the pollution was beginning to bother us.
Here we have some of the Latte lifestyle and a lot of the organic lifestyle. We had to make a conscious decision not to work ourselves to death but to sit back and enjoy what we have worked for. (If you are one of those people who just work and work and work, you will know what I mean.) For us, Permaculture is a lot of little things that you incorporate into your life without it making your life too much hard work. We always recycle without thinking about it. We grow as much of our own food as we can - sharing the excess with neighbours and friends. When we buy food, we buy 'whole' food, not packaged junk that you 'cook' by heating in the oven, but we still eat out a fair bit and enjoy it. We are working to make our block as low maintenance as we can, while still having a huge garden, because I love to garden. Ultimately, we will have a self-sustaining ornamental garden - not totally Permaculture, because the plants are not agricultural, but if all ornamental gardens were based on Permaculture designs a lot of our pollution and water problems would be solved. I will always try to adhere to Permaculture principles, but I won't be a martyr to them.
05-04-2004, 07:34 PM
thanx for the thoughts dan & rob. dan, in regards to the full independence, i think i used the wrong term. i completely agree with the idea of sharing, community-based co-existence. i was trying to refer more to the people (like myself) who used to be completely reliant on larger national/global consumer systems. previously, when i needed/wanted something, i would go out, search for and then buy it - if i could afford it. never really considered producing anything myself - not so much due to laziness, just conditioning and ignorance i suppose. now i appreciate the trillion or so benefits from of doing things yourself, with what you already have or by supporting and interacting with your community.
the parallels between permaculture principles and human health is something i am particularly interested in. after all, we are just part of the overall natural system. what applies to the garden/environment/nature, directly applies to and concerns us. the same mentality that created agricultural systems with monocultures and deadly chemicals concentrating on destroying problems and ignoring causes, also created the standard medical system which has a narrow view of stopping symptoms and ignoring causes, again with chemicals or surgical interference. if you detoxify your body, removing causes of problems not concentrating on the problems themselves, you will return to health. exactly the same as your garden or environment.
i just see it as rather sad how many people are completely disconnected with the natural environment, have no interest in it, and don't recognise that what they do to it, they do to themselves, and vice versa.
but, like was said, permaculture does not define the person and we don't need any more martyrs. do what you can - be happy, and love making other people happy.
06-04-2004, 08:23 AM
When I first heard about Permaculture I was in my very early twenties and had lived in the city my whole life. I was very cynical about the way our society is run and had little hope for it or the natural world as we know it either. I had long held romantic notions about living a more simple life closer to nature and with a degree of self sufficiency but had never come close to experiencing anything of the sort.
Some friends who had done P/c courses started a garden in their urban backyard and inspired me, I started doing some reading myself and eventually left the city to go wwoofing and see what I could learn.
Those early years of being interested in Permaculture I would categorise now as being very idealistic and hopeful but also quite fearful and unsure of whether I had it in me to do the physical work and gain the skills necessary to be self reliant.
Of course, being a part of a functioning community is a big part of being self reliant, but ultimately one is responsible for oneself, and ones contribution. After several years of travelling and learning and staying in one place long enough to see the seasons through once or twice, I began to become more confident that I do have it in me and that my species has the potential to create a sustainable way of living, even if the learning process does take a lifetime and beyond. So I suppose initially, what Permaculture gave me more than anything, besides an approach to designing solutions to pollution, was hope.
However, I became increasingly disillusioned and cynical about the "permaculture movement" and for the last few years I have found myself cringing about it where I used to associate myself with it with pride...
Seems like as tenuous as our grasp is on good design for agriculture and human settlement, our ability to live in community is practically hopeless! I really like what Dan had to say about family and community - I really think that getting good at those "invisible structures" is the major challenge that faces the "permaculture movement" and will be the make or break factor for humanity!
Permaculture was so welcome to me because for the first time I saw a system that had enough integrity and flexibility to suggest that it might actually WORK towards solving our many environmental problems. So in that sense it restored to me some hope. The fact that it doesn't have a religious basis was also very appealing. Religion can be used to enforce conformity. There are some greener-than-thou people in the permaculture community, but if they want to browbeat people they can get stuffed. If we don't tolerate diverse approaches we'll make a bad mistake and will miss out on many good ideas that won't be allowed to surface. Let's argue, for God's sake! In the process we'll learn more about a subject and can make up our own minds about it.
My permaculture teacher said on the last day of our PDC course that you can design pretty effectively for most aspects of your permaculture site, but the people part of it is so very hard. Let's face it, we're all very flawed individuals. I'm sure there will be/are permaculture people who will want to patent ideas that should be shared, and do other things that will disappoint many of us. We SHOULD expect better from permaculturists than we do of politicians and other shysters, but in the end some selfish or dumb actions shouldn't surprise us. We should just keep doing our bit. It's amazing how much we then influence other people around us, who formerly had no interest in sustainability.
obviously no signs of action on the baby front yet???
all the best for the coming event...and the hazy months that follow.
Thanks Dan. The hazy months have begun. Niamh was born on 2nd April. See my last post under the topic "Nappies".
Back to the whirl. Seeya.
07-04-2004, 02:39 PM
ah congratulations to your new young family Mont.
love the name - Niamh...
do enjoy...and survive - where necessery.
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