Permaculture is the application of a set of principles and ethics to care for the whole Earth and all of its inhabitants. Originally from the term permanent agriculture, but has expanded for applications to all landscape scales.
As described by Permaculture practitioner and educator Andrew Millison, “Permaculture design is a method of landscape planning that can be applied at scales from the home garden to city block to village to farm. It is an ethically based whole-systems design approach that uses concepts, principles, and methods derived from ecosystems, indigenous peoples, and other time-tested practices to create sustainable human settlements and institutions.”
At the center are three ethics; Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share
These are the foundation to all components in the practice, ensuring we are able to care for the Earth now and for future generations.
The practice of Permaculture is like a map to live more sustainably, with little impact to the lands and waters around us, coined, defined and refined in the mid 1970’s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. There are limitless ways one can incorporate Permaculture into any sized space from an urban lot, a rural farm or rangeland to a community garden bed. The 12 Principles, listed below, encircle the ethics as a system, apply one or two and build up to more over time as you are able. Every positive or sustainable action adds up to a more resilient Earth for every living creature. Practicing permaculture is like practicing the guitar or yoga – there is always more to learn.
Observe & Interact
Catch & Store Energy
Obtain a Yield
Apply Self-Regulation & Accept Feedback
Use & Value Renewable Resources & Services
Produce No Waste
Design from Patterns to Details
Integrate Rather the Segregate
Use Small & Slow Solutions
Use & Value Diversity
Use Edges & Value the Marginal
Creatively Use & Respond to Changes
Your map may lead to planting vegetable and flower varieties adapted to the weather and climate where you live. Later take another step and plan for passive solar and wind energy by having windows in just the right places, or materials to absorb the heat and release it when the sun goes down. If you are in an existing home (not moving windows) there are still steps you can take to get the most out of what you have. Work with the wind for healthy air circulation, or plant to minimize erosive forces. Even a small lot can support chickens, rabbits, or a pond with fish. This is another level of living sustainably and resilient in case food distribution becomes interrupted. These are just a few examples one may take to minimize inputs and maintain a yard or homestead. Every unique location and situation will unfold differently; let the principles and ethics of Permaculture lead the way.
And remember this; you can always start with what you have and wherever you are, right now.
Whether new to the Pacific Northwest or a long time native you might be surprised how many things each homeowner can do to help keep our lands lush and green and our waters clear and cold.
Trees and plants adapted to wet winters and dry summers can provide bountiful color, texture and fragrances. Need a lawn to let the kids or pets play? There are many low growing perennials that are just as fun underfoot, and even support butterflies and other pollinators to keep the blossoms coming for another season. Eliminate the hassle of fertilizing, watering, aerating and gassing up the mower on a traditional lawn. Don’t sacrifice a precious blue-sky weekend mowing!
The “right plant in the right place” means less work for you while allowing for optimal sun/shade, air circulation, proper wind breaks, noise and pollution abatement and more.
Water catchment and storage is one of the most practical things we can do, after-all it is our most precious resource. A rain barrel or two should get you through dry spells, or larger systems for irrigation and non-potable household chores (washing clothes or flushing toilets) are some ways you can save on water & money.
Eco-Restore Ecological Consulting can help you create a healthy home and outdoor living space! (360) 350-6625, visit their website.