This is What Permaculture Teaches Us
Take your inspiration from nature’s patterns.
“Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround us. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos.”
— Bill Mollison
It’s amazingly beautiful to realize that every being in nature has its place in life’s cycle. Birds in the sky and whales crossing the oceans are not random accidents; life on this planet is always adapting and evolving according to nature’s plan.
What about humans?
We are also nature. Like the rivers, we have veins. Like the forest, we have a respiratory system. Like hyphae in mycelium, we have nerves.
What should be our role in this perfect weaving creation that holds it self playing into balance?
As we have evolved, we have created and intelligently organized resources to make our lives easier. We have invented technologies for every task, and we have discovered the integral relationship between everything.
Permaculture asks us, what if we humans decided to focus all that imagination, wondering and dedication to becoming, once again, part of nature’s dynamic? What if we embraced our role as regenerators who have the tools and consciousness to protect instead of consuming in excess?
When we look closely at nature, we find patterns that silently appear just to reveal a secret for those who observe—just to remind us of the breathtaking truth that everything is connected.
These patterns, these perfect designs created collectively by infinite organisms and events, are the foundation of Permaculture. This same structure repeats over and over again, creatively finding new ways to keep nature flowing in evolution. Agriculture, social designs, economics, medicine crafting, and gardening—we can fit all these human aspects in a way that can be inclusive for everybody.
Permaculture calls for designing, prepared and adaptable at the same time. It reminds us of what David Holmgren called the Permaculture Ethics: Earth care, People care and Fair Share.
Earth care opens the cycle by cultivating what is a fundamental for a healthy, regenerated Earth, where everything that comes out of it is alive as its source. We all can prosper if our foundation is strong, dynamic and healthy. Ethical use of natural resources challenges the sense of entitlement to just take, because caring for the earth asks us to be conscious of why and how we are using nature’s elements.
Just like the other animals do, we should use only what we need.
People care brings the attention to us, taking care of our needs for growth, comfort, and social justice. One of the most important elements in Permaculture is community—our tribe. We connect our web strongly when we take care of ourselves, our families, and our community. We birth new generations based on equality, opportunities to expand without judgment, collaborating to cultivate a community as a living system.
What we do for our self, we do for the whole species.
Between taking care of ourselves and the Earth, Fair Share applies to the way we plan our projects to make them more fair for everyone in nature—humans, animals, plants, and fungi included. It concerns how we distribute production or excess. It challenges us to abandon our anthropocentrism and integrate all beings involved.
As a community, we share with one another and build our lives together.
Even though agriculture is a big part of permaculture, this doesn’t mean that you need a huge piece of land to apply all this information. You can start anywhere.
If you live in a tiny apartment in the middle of a massive city, you can always get creative and see what is around you and how you can maximize the resources available. Natural light coming in through the window? You can place your medicinal plants in pots, beautifying the space and letting new oxygen spread from there. Too much rain? What about a rain catchment, so you can flush the toilet with it. You name it.
You can create your own habitat just as you would create a piece of art.
Following this philosophy of creating and organizing, we have 12 principles that guide us to a better understanding of what a permanent culture feels like, always inspired by nature’s patterns observed in every ecosystem:
- Observe and Interact
- Catch and store energy
- Obtain a yield
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
- Use and value renewable resources
- Produce no waste
- Design from patterns to details
- Integrate rather then segregate
- Use small and slow solutions
- Use and value the marginal
- Creatively use and respond to change.
Permaculture is about working with nature—not against it. It’s about observing how plants and animals behave, learning from that, and developing in regenerative coexistence with all the life around us.
It looks for a resilient habitat where we can all coexist. It is the future inspired by our past, giving us the opportunity to break the chains of dependency through our health, social, economic and food systems, creating a more permanent structure for all life to thrive.
Sustainability is not enough in a world full of pollution and over population; regeneration can heal what is broken and leave our earth ready to support the next generation.
Permaculture teaches us how to be responsible for life on this planet, letting go of selfishness and acting from love and compassion. Pure, raw love moves us forward as members of this existence, seeding opportunities for equality and growth.
Interested in learning more about an integral experience of Permaculture and medicine crafting? Come to the magical Finca Exotica in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, April 14th to 20th, and learn from this incredible community!
About the Author
Carlos Avendaño is a plant enthusiast with great knowledge of herbalism, permaculture, Yoga, Massage and healing therapies. Connect with him on Facebook.