Permaculture

Picture 120

per·ma·cul·ture

/ˈpərməˌkəlCHər/
Noun

The development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Picture 120

 

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”
Bill Mollison (from the permaculture.net website)

I’m learning what permaculture is.  This is a course that will be taught by someone else (Penny Krebiehl and Craig Schaaf), so I have a functional knowledge, but not the technical knowledge needed to teach it.  In many ways, it seems to me that permaculture is what our great grandparents did, whether they lived on a city lot or an 80 acre farm.  They studied their situation, which included the land, the climate, their social situation (this was important in the water sharing west as well as the urban areas), and their total resources.  They figured out the best way to get the most production, both food and financially, that their situation would allow.  They sought to work with the land as much as possible because they didn’t possess the petroleum means (tractors, fuel, fertilizer) to force their will.  This is, to my understanding, the essence of permaculture.  It’s the construction of a productive system that uses the components to benefit and sustain each other. 

A row of chicken "tractors" marching across a field.  The birds leave behind well fertilized forage for the next grazers.

A row of chicken “tractors” marching across a field. The birds leave behind well fertilized forage for the next grazers.

On our farm, we graze animals to build the soil to grow healthier plants to have food to graze the animals on.  For our efforts we get meat, milk, and eggs.  Plus, the animals provide the raw material for compost to enhance the soil of our garden so we have good vegetables.  Any organic “waste” from the butcher shop or milk processing (such as whey when I make the family’s cheese) goes back into the system one way or another.  This is one example of permaculture.

Since soil is the key to growing anything, it is a critical component in building your permaculture system.  Craig Schaaf is an experienced farmer and respected teacher of this kind of agriculture.  Craig has modeled his farm on Eliot Coleman’s work, focusing on soil building to achieve amazing harvests from small spaces.  Craig will be teaching us how to use what’s naturally available to us to build a well mineralized soil that can support intensive planting.

turnipsThis is a class that I anticipate will be of great use to beginners who just want to know where to start.  I recommend it as the starter class if you’ve never grown a thing in your life. Permaculture ideas provide an umbrella for you to understand sustainable, organic type farming.  Soils are the foundation of all growing.

I also anticipate that this class will be full of information for those of us who have been growing all sorts of things for most of our lives.  There is a lot to know about permaculture and soils and building a sustainable system.  Your farm or garden will benefit from your time with Penny and Craig.  We will be inside learning the basics, but also out in the field applying what’s in the books.  In this class you can learn:

  • Principles of permaculture – your guides as you observe and plan.
  • Ethics of permaculture – how to apply the principles to your land and your life.
  • Soils – applying permaculture to the foundation of all that you will grow.
  • Design – Planning your food growing enterprise with permaculture principles and ethics in mind.

Hope to see you here!  Introduction to Permaculture and Soils

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