What Is Permaculture?

Permaculture Title Graphic

Knowing About My Background As A Certified Permaculturist, Occasionally People Ask Me Simply “What Is Permaculture” ?

I like to think of it as just using what you make and making what you use. I imagine my great grandparents did quite a bit of this on their dairy & hops farms in early 20th century.

The basic concepts, while shockingly underutilized in this modern era, are not necessarily new,  as many are built upon ancient agricultural techniques & wisdom.

The principles of Permaculture encourage a more harmonious circle of re-use in which less new material is brought in to the growing site & less materials are discarded & sent out to landfill.

Permaculture, is a relatively recent term, but it’s constant re-interpretation by it’s proponents can also incorporate new ways & technologies to foster water conservation, reduction of fossil fuel use & create less environmentally destructive means to food production.

Permaculture can be described as an all encompassing living theory, with a lifestyle embodying an overall attitude directed towards the creation of a living sustainable agricultural ecosystem.

As a horticultural methodology, Permaculture is implemented in a way where everything within the growing system is designed to maximize potential and minimize waste, eventually through creating an interconnected, stacking of functions.

A properly planned permaculture system can be self sustaining in many ways, which also means less eventual maintenance work for the gardener. Planted in a way that mimic natural settings, Permaculture projects feature plants that grow in a layered story, from the canopy above,  down to the ground cover and everything in-between. Landscapes planted in this matter allows the plants to thrive and care for one another symbiotically. The plants are more able to reach their full potential with a greater harvest.

Making and using compost is a very important part of closing the circle of re-use in Permaculture.  By keeping all of the kitchen scraps and yard waste out of the over taxed landfills, it reduces carbon dioxide and methane gas from being released into the atmosphere. Making your own compost, to be applied in your garden,  also allows you to know exactly what’s in it and prevent harmful foreign contaminants from entering your soil.  Whether making traditional compost or vermicompost,  both are vital nutrient rich soil conditioners that aid in water retention. Vermicompost is an easy to make organic fertilizer made utilizing earthworms to help breakdown green waste.

Raising chickens has many added benefits to a permaculture system, as well as being a source of eggs, and quite entertaining !  Worms can be fed scraps and even the chicken waste, and left to their own devices,  both worms & chickens will work hard at digesting greenwaste, and turning the soil for you. The fertilizers created by chickens and worms will increase soil fertility, helping create a wonderful cycle.

Beekeeping also has great benefits, while increasing the overall fertility of the garden through much needed pollination,  honey bees can also provide a source of really local honey and other useful by-products such as wax and pollen.

Some good examples of implementing Permaculture principles would be the use of solar (hardwired or passive), as in a greenhouse or cold frames.  Catching and using rainwater in barrels or cisterns lessens the amount of impact a gardener would use on municipal tap or well water.  Installing a basic graywater plumbing system that recycles either household laundry or shower water, and diverts it into the landscape is a re-use project in tune with the principles of Permaculture. These energy conservation methods are wonderful ways to reduce wasting of precious resources in the garden.

In creating a permanent system using the ideas mentioned above, you are utilizing a natural gardening methodology that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels, that doesn’t pollute the environment, that builds rather than erodes topsoil. Permaculture is a way to work with the land to create harvest methods that support biodiversity and are more productive than what have become the standard commercial methods that rely on pesticides & destroying the soil every season.

If you wish to implement the principles of Permaculture to your garden, do get in touch with me, as I would be happy to consult on your project!