Tonight 350-Pensacola held a public lecture in the Transition Town series on permaculture with two certified permaculturists–Renee Perry and Tom Garner. Permaculture they explained is not some woo-woo alternative practice but rather a practical way of doing…well, everything!
Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture design, had learned over a long period that modern day farming and design principles were not permanent but unsustainable in the long run. The system he began to develop creates a permanent culture. It is sustainable.
Tom described the evolution of the discipline as a way of observing, and then designing natural systems that reduce work while accomplishing more. The example he gave was a gardener struggling with Japanese beetle infestation on grape vines. In the life cycle of the beetle, the larva drops to the ground as a caterpillar. The gardener draped the vines over the chicken yard so that the caterpillars dropped into the chicken enclosure and were promptly eaten, breaking the life cycle of the beetles. The grapes thrived and shaded the enclosure, while dropping their leaves in the winter when the chickens needed full sun. The gardener never had to worry about Japanese beetles and his chickens had a new food source. The vine did well fertilized by plenty of chicken droppings.
Permaculture is based on three principles: 1) Care of the Earth; 2) Care of People; 3) Return of the Surplus.
Observation is very important in this type of design–the solution is in the problem, as the example above demonstrates. Knowing how nature works is a key principle. **Think what this would mean if a whole city adopted the principles? How much time and money could we save and have fun doing it!
Renee described the benefits of growing your own food, making the case that, using permaculture, people will actually work less than going to the grocery store to buy food. She made the case for increased nutrition, and the action of soil microbes that have been shown to improve human thinking and overall health. Yes, there are Good Bacteria! Tom and Renee’s backyard garden proves that people can raise most of their own food. They keep chickens and raise bees in addition to gardening. The neighbors do not mind and are thrilled to have a portion of the delicious harvest.
Permaculture is not anti-technology but rather wiser use of things on hand by redesigning elements to work with each other and thus augment outcomes. Both instructors talked about growing your own food as a direct way to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere by building up top soil. I will sign up for their April class on vegetable gardening. Meantime my garden looks very perky in its bed of hay and rich organic mulch.
Up to 77 degrees in Pensacola today but a nice cool night. I have the front and back doors of the ole shot gun house open and there is a nice breeze flowing through the little House on Belmont Street. I am very happy here!