January 15 Blog
How many of you have heard of permaculture? The term has been around since the 1970’s, created by the two Aussies Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. They were upset over the industrial agricultural practices in Tasmania that not only reduced diversity, but removed tons of top soil and destroyed the land and water. Only recently has the philosophy of permaculture caught on. The word permaculture first meant “permanent agriculture”, or sustainable ways to grow crops. But people also needed to be involved, so the meaning evolved into one with social implications, or the “culture” aspect. Now permaculture is an integrated system geared to working with nature and all its complexities, trying to mimic or recreate more natural balances while forming hospitable environments for all living things.
I have been a member of the Arbor Day Foundation for years. It is the world’s largest and oldest tree-planting organization, established in 1972. The Arbor Day Farm is located in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Lied Lodge & Conference Center is the focal point for meetings and classes all in some way related to plants, but the state of the arts lodge is surrounded by gardens, tree plots and nurseries, an on-site café/store as well as an interactive play area for children and interpretive paths. It is a wonderful place to visit and walk around.
Last spring the first Permaculture Design Certificate Course was held at the Arbor Day Farm. Bill and Becky Wilson of Midwest Permaculture describe Permaculture as a creative and artful way of living, where people and nature are both preserved and enhanced by thoughtful planning, careful use of resources and technology, the patterns found in nature are recreated, and life is to be respected. From this, a supportive environment is formed for generations.
The first step anywhere you would want to begin your permaculture experience is to just look at what is there, right now. Use the sun’s energy to produce food locally. In permaculture, there are 12 design principles. Basically they encompass observation, energy catchment, yield assurance, feedback, renewable resources, negligible waste, diversity and establishing interactions through the development of patterns and edges.
In permaculture, the human environment is considered in the scheme of how the environment is to be sustainably managed. The plant environment must be understood in its placement alongside the human environment. Everything from tree canopies down into the soil ecosystems, or layers of nature, are studied. Zones radiating away from each house determines suitable plants, and mulching as well as rainwater harvesting are major players in the permaculture world.
The Wilsons live in Stelle, Illinois, and they have made permaculture their life’s work. How can humans live without destroying their own environment (think Beijing and their horrible air pollution right now) and find ways to coexist peacefully? Trees! Trees play a huge role. I am a staunch promoter of trees and their rights. I planted hundreds of trees when we moved into our house and now, years later, the house and lot are tree shaded. Actually, just planting and taking care of trees can make a difference wherever you live. Throw in some ideology along with each shovel full of soil as you dig a hole for a new little tree or sapling. Mother Earth will thank you.
The Arbor Day Foundation promotes trees, their importance and how vital they are for us folks and the planet. Visit arborday.org/bulletin and get a copy of Tree City USA Bulletin No. 59, Permaculture and the City. Other sites to check:
http://www. permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/ The website for the Permaculture Institute. Founded in 1985, courses have been taught in over 20 countries.
http://earthflow.com/ The website for EarthFlow Design Works
http://goinglocalokc.com/ The website for Transition/Oklahoma City