Category Archives: Opinion

Permaculture Principle #6: Produce No Waste

Waste not, want not.

What of a tree goes to waste in a tree-based community (a forest)?

Everybody eats, everybody gets eaten. If not for you, what is this food for? Earthworms or entropy itself?

What are you made of? See what you can do!

A Rap on Monthly Permaculture Principle 5 – Use & value renewable resources & services

Principle 5: Use & value renewable resources & services

Trees. A central part at the heart of every ecosystem supportin’ human habitation. A station for renewal of many a good & service: fiber, fuel, food (for humans), fodder (for animals), farmaceuticals, and all kinds o’ fun. Did I mention they live off the sun? And the soil. And in a few hundred million years, they may be renewed to rock oil. But unlike oil, dead ‘nd deadly indeed, trees can be better than free for what you need. Paying you back in fact and potentially if the way you both act is of mutual benefit, then you’re sending it: succession through time. May the force of the forest be with you!

Monthly Permaculture Principle: 4 – Apply Self-Regulation and Respond to Feedback

This month we’re kicking off our Monthly Permaculture Principle series. Each month we’ll introduce a permaculture principle and highlight examples of it. We encourage folks to join in, seeking out and sharing examples of permaculture design principles in action.

To start with, what are permaculture principles? Briefly, they are design principles, used in the continuous and evolving process of designing one’s landscape and lifestyle.

“Continuous and evolving” is a key phrase for this month’s permaculture principle:

4 – Apply self-regulation and respond to feedback

A go-to location for permaculture principle explanations and examples is PermaculturePrinciples.com:

We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

The icon of the whole earth is the largest scale example we have of a self regulating ‘organism’ which is subject to feedback controls, like global warming. The proverb “the sins of the fathers are visited unto the children of the seventh generation” reminds us that negative feedback is often slow to emerge.

via https://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/_4/

And a thoughtful bit about reflecting backward and forward in self-regulating:

I always thought the Native American idea “think of seven generations” meant to think ahead seven generations into the future. But I have been shown that it also means thinking back to our own great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and ourselves, as well as forward to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.In a garden, it means behaving as though we are part of a continuum, starting with an appreciation of the harvest of the land stewards of the previous generations, and planting perennials and enriching the soil so that years later our future grandchildren can continue to enjoy and reap the harvest of our labors. Responding to feedback can also mean remediating our own mistakes or those of our predecessors. This may mean replanting unproductive areas of the garden, or improving soil that has been impoverished.

via https://www.timberpress.com/blog/2013/02/12-principles-of-permaculture/

What examples of self-regulation and responding to feedback have you found in your own or your peers’ work designing landscapes, lifestyles, and other systems? Please share in the comments, and pass this principle on to others!

Ecological Hero Highlight: Masanobu Fukuoka

Fukuoka, a farmer leading landscapes and lifestyles toward smoother paths. Daoism emphasizes the importance of relaxation to let the natural way flow within your mind, speech, actions, and beyond. Fukuoka cultivates peace of people and of places, finding paths of least resistance to move well with the Way.

Masanobu Fukuoka (Japanese: 福岡 正信 Hepburn: Fukuoka Masanobu, 2 February 1913 – 16 August 2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures,[1] from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as “natural farming” or “do-nothing farming”.[2][3][4]

Fukuoka was the author of several Japanese books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries and interviews from the 1970s onwards.[5] His influences went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing nature’s principles.[6]

via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masanobu_Fukuoka

To learn more about Fukuoka and natural farming methods from him, check out www.permaculture.com/node/140

 

August 6 is a day to celebrate this person – perhaps a ‘saint’ for the green spiritually inclined – though acknowledgement, knowledgement, and embodiment any day is the way to The Way!

On the Issue of Exotic and Native Plants in Permaculture

Paul Wheaton in a Permaculture Keynote, discussing the role of exotic plants in permaculture systems to maximize net benefit of productive conservation:

‘Native plants are important and most permaculture systems are made up of them – I can’t think of a permaculture system that didn’t! – but a lot of people keen on native plants believe that you should only plant native plants. I ask them: what do you eat? Nearly all of them eat food that’s not native, at least a little bit every week. Most people, 99% of their diet is not native.’ By gardening, people can grow a lot of their food, and gardening can serve as conservation while also providing many benefits! Some invasive plants certainly aren’t suitable for intentional planting and cultivation, but where’s that fine line? There are many useful plants which were once exotic and are now considered staples.

 

And a more detailed description/conclusion of the overall presentation:

‘food problems, fuel problems, petroleum and irrigation – we’ve solved a lot of these problems and we just need to get the word out and more people doing this around the world. … We could go be angry, but I think it’s much better to keep sharing the info we’re sharing, pass it on as much as we can share…it’s very important! …we’re doing something wrong, and the solution just turns out to be that shaking your fist at bad guys just isn’t really doing the trick. However we have other means, and thankfully it’s much a much smoother ride to tell somebody about an idea than to be angry at them.’

Equality, liberty, and efficiency – finding a balance

Our society has skyrocketed in efficiency. I see this efficiency and how it’s been a long-time in the making. I also see in politics how the left-right arguments tend to highlight a supposed battle of equality vs liberty-and-efficiency. How, if at all, does liberty and efficiency go together nowadays, and how does our prioritization of efficiency impact equality?

I think our preference for efficiency has led us to an imbalanced state. In mainstream tendencies, I see that we prioritize efficiency highest of all. Because of this, equality has suffered, and even liberty is at loss; concentrating power in few makes it more difficult for the many individuals and common goods to reach real opportunities and to contribute to their personal and our collective potential. What kind of liberty do I have in a setting rigged[1] by powerful few, keeping their own high-and-mighty interests & direction in mind? What kind of liberty can both my neighbors and I enjoy, if we found our success in debt-based finances[2]? Though I hear folks claiming to fight for liberty by supporting high prioritization of efficiency, I see the preference for extreme efficiency breeds an authoritarian oligarchy, destroying liberty in the same breath as it blocks equality; destroying our common resources and environment in the same breath as it blocks the human spirit.

Liberty is something important in the middle I think. In libertarian philosophy there are subsets which sway to the left, favoring equality, and subsets which sway to the right, favoring efficiency. What is the middle ground? In the United States, we are familiar with the word as we pledge our allegiance “…with Liberty and Justice for All.” How can we move in this middle way?[3] The last word of that pledge is “All.” The core value of equality comes from that word “All” and its meaning, and it fits naturally in a saying calling for liberty and justice.

Statue of Liberty with Sunset (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BAI_wySCcAEOgaK.jpg)

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