Intro to Permaculture

I know, this is something totally different, but my meandering has taken me to permaculture. It’s actually systems thinking in action, so maybe it’s not that far off my path after all. I got interested in it through my emerging interest in the transitions movement, which I learned about through a podcast, which I learned about through one of the social psychologists I’ve been reading (see, I can even retrace my meandering!). The principles – as vaguely as I understand them at this point – are also touched on in this interview. Debal Deb points out that savannas are not actually the result of deforestation (as assumed by Western economists) but are rather the result of careful farming that turned deserts into savannas!

In any rate, I had some trouble finding really basic information on permaculture – information more about the underlying philosophy than on how to design a whole garden. Since I am starting to stumble on things, I thought I’d share!

The permaculture principles are summarized here, including a 16-page summary. If you don’t feel like reading, you can check out this video. There are six parts to this show – you can find the others in the usual youtube fashion.

The video doesn’t mention this directly but agriculture is enabling us to feed more people than are needed to grow the food – and the industrialization of agriculture has increased the number of people one farmer can support. This is partly what is driving overpopulation – we think the earth can sustain so many more people than it really can. We are depleting this resource. The destructiveness of agriculture that Mollison mentions goes beyond the killing of species. It is endangering the whole planet since overpopulation is one of the forces behind global climate disruption.

The word that best captures what permaculture represents according to this video: Relationship. It reflects the expansion of the meaning of that word to again include everything we’re related to, not just The One… This video drops into religion, unfortunately, linking permaculture and the divine because it’s “all about relationship.” I am not quite getting that… Bill Mollison did not mention any of this, so hopefully, there’s permaculture without new age mumbo-jumbo.

If you know of any other great intro resources, especially hands-on training without spirituality, please add them in the comments!






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  1. Pingback: Ethics and Manure - San Francisco Permaculture Guild

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