And am I just one of those weird enviro nuts who has their head in the clouds and needs to realize the whole world can’t afford Whole Foods?

Well, Essence of Permaculture is a really good 12-page intro to the concept.

Or, you can look it up on Wikipedia…

Some of the basic things people do in permaculture:

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.  (me:  For example, wander around outside or sit in a hammock and notice things)
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.  (me:  Make hay when the sun shines)
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.  (me:  Don’t do it to be a do-gooder – do it to get something out of it)
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well. (me:  Not sure what to add on this one!)
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources. (me:  Consumptive, like TB in the old days? Hmm, actually…)
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. (me:  Yeah, no plastic!)
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go. (me:  Patterns can be anything from Fibonacci sequence to the way sharks move around with their personal schools of fish to the way the sun has patterns of flares year by year, etc.)
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other. (me:  The concept of plant guilds is fascinating, and you can see it EVERYWHERE)
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes. (me:  Plus, you get to be lazy!)
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides. (me:  Yeah, pretty much just a heck yeah to this)
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system. (Next time you go to the beach, you can see this really easily, but it’s all around you)
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.  (me:  Sounds about right)

The other thing about permaculture that is why I am enthusiastic about it is the concept of zones, which basically make your efforts streamlined as much as possible so you do not have to think from day to day all that much.  The location of your most important plants/animals will be right where you are going anyway, so it’s not a big deal.  I love things that are so well designed as to be almost effortless!

Zone 0
The house, or home center. Here permaculture principles would be applied in terms of aiming to reduce energy and water needs, harnessing natural resources such as sunlight, and generally creating a harmonious, sustainable environment in which to live and work. Zone 0 is an informal designation, which is not specifically defined in Mollison’s book.
Zone 1
The zone nearest to the house, the location for those elements in the system that require frequent attention, or that need to be visited often, such as salad crops, herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries or raspberries, greenhouse and cold frames, propagation area, worm compost bin for kitchen waste, and so on. Raised beds are often used in zone 1 in urban areas.
Zone 2
This area is used for siting perennial plants that require less frequent maintenance, such as occasional weed control or pruning, including currant bushes and orchards. This would also be a good place for beehives, larger scale composting bins, and so on.
Zone 3
The area where maincrops are grown, both for domestic use and for trade purposes. After establishment, care and maintenance required are fairly minimal (provided mulches and similar things are used), such as watering or weed control maybe once a week.
Zone 4
A semi-wild area. This zone is mainly used for forage and collecting wild food as well as timber production.
Zone 5
A wild area. There is no human intervention in zone 5 apart from the observation of natural ecosystems and cycles.
Hope this is a decent intro for those of you who have not heard of it before! And yes, I probably am an enviro nut, but I don’t shop at Whole Foods myself. This blog is partly about my effort to get the best and most delicious food possible on my pathetically small budget 🙂

Y Girl