Defining Permaculture

Discussion in 'General chat' started by Grahame, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Hey folks, I was just out in the garden doing a bit of Perm-itation (my new portmanteau for Permicultural Meditation) when it started to rain - again.

    Any way, I got to thinking about it and started to think that what permaculture is really all about is efficient and effective time and resource management. If you break it down to the nuts and bolts of it. The rest is just about the systems we use, or the ways we design our systems in order to best use our available resources (time and stuff). As an upshot, i don't know that we are really ever going to reach some permaculture paradise until more people get a handle on basic time and resource management techniques. We can see just how poorly (read inefficiently and ineffectively) governments tend to manage these things.

    Just some thoughts, I think this is going to help me in my practices as I had previously been dabbling with Getting Things Done or GTD (a book and process by David Allen - called How to Get Things Done in Australia). I had been thinking that this was something that would help me with my project/s here, but then I have become increasingly aware that it may actually be integral to the whole thing. I wonder how many Permaculture projects have failed or at least failed to blossom because this underlying ability to organise and prioritise projects (time and resources) and lives was missing.

    Love to hear your thoughts
    Grahame
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,456
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Farm manager/ educator
    Location:
    Hunter Valley New South Wales
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    warm temperate - some frost - changing every year
    It is interesting and timely to reflect on this at Purple Pear, Grahame.
    We have been heavily involved in setting the property up to produce food for the CSA and an environment for people to learn, that the concept of functionality and impact on "us" was swept to one side.
    We have just this week ( perhaps it is spring in the air?) started to establish some guidlines for development that will lead us to better outcomes for the property and ourselves. We are delegating more responsibility for Transition Town projects to others and implementing some work systems that will hopefully regulate planting times and also factor in some "time out" for ourselves.
    We are heading to the Channon to do the teacher course to bring our approach up to date and will move our course outlines to more reflect the needs of today and are applying for assistance so people who need the training we are able to provide can better afford to do it. ( It urks me a little as we have maintained the bare minimum on costs and know that we offer value for money)
    We will have a new website as most approaches come that way and generally get a more business like approach to the property.
    Sustainability needs to be a word used to define the operation of our lives and not just garden practices.
    Anyhow I think I probably have taken your thread out of context and had a spray but there you go.
     
  3. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    On the contrary PP, what you say is the sort of thing I was thinking about when I started the thread.

    One of the reasons we call our place Green Temple is because of my philosophy that just as 'My body is my temple' so to 'My garden is my temple'. I see our garden as an extension of our body in the physical world. The things we surround ourselves with, the organisation of the world immediately around us tells us much about who we are on the inside (about our mind of yesterday). We cannot help but have a garden that reflects us and if we wish to have a different garden then what we need to be is a different person.

    Which fits in with my belief that Permaculture is more about a state of being than anything else. If we are Permaculture on the inside then we will necessary live permaculture on the outside, in our garden, in our work, in our home. But until we really are permaculture on the inside then permaculture on the outside will be yet another attempt to bend our external reality to our will. Which in my opinion only causes stress on the inside and the out.

    More later...
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My "permi-tations" lately have been about the resilience and the number of relationships between things in my system. I'm noticing that when I'm working around the garden that each thing that I do is not an act that impacts only one area or function anymore. It makes for a more complicated workflow, but it gets more done.
    For example I've been making a new garden bed for corn and beans. It's a kind of modified no dig / compost bed with straw bales for surrounds, and compost ingredients in the middle. So - there's a patch of weeds that I want to pull out in another part of the garden, that then become input for this. Which leaves me with bare ground that I now have room to plant a ground cover into. And then I top it with shredded paper which gives me a use for another output. Then there's poo. And then I dig over my oldest compost pile and use the best to top up the bed. Which gets the compost pile turned over and gives me space to make more. Then top the bed with straw and water it well with my Singapore Daisy weed tea. There's another output... and so on.
     
  5. bonsai

    bonsai Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    excellent post G. puts my thoughts into words that can be explained easily.. :)

    I found a lot of information in Echkart Tolle's books that are similar to this advice..
     
  6. cassio

    cassio Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day everyone.

    I've barely entered this permacultured stuff so my opinion is most likely worthless, I am still trying to find out what exactly permaculture means to me anyway. But thinking alone is not the most productive way of thinking, so I'd like to share my present views on pc with you if that's all right.
    I think one of the root factors leading to unsustainability is our desire to have a somewhat sophisticated lifestyle. Most people pursue that in the "normal" way, ie extremely pollutant, energy-inefficient, non-renewable-resources-dependent, etc. While permaculturists will always try, at least to some degree, to be environmentally friendly, ie avoiding pollution, optimizing energy use, etc. so it comes to Grahame's "efficient and effective time and resource management".
    However, the way I see it, if pc is about sustainability (permanent), then it is not only about efficient and effective time and resource management, but also about keeping it simple, in other words, giving up the sophisticated lifestyle.
    Many permaculturists seem to devote themselves to the first part, but will not give up sophistication (ie, big house, car, consumers goods in general). So, in order to maintain these (which I came to see as "vices"), they continue needing a lot of money, and for that, they either keep a job in town (generally one inserted in the industrial society context, therefore bad), or do permaculture as their business (consultancy, courses, paid visits and volunteering, etc.), which I think is much better than the former. But even so, it is hardly "perma", and I'll tell you why: it comes to be like any other business - as long as you don't have competitors around (generally the case since pc is still very thin), you can say "you don't compete - you cooperate". It could go forever if pc continues thin forever (which means permaculture ultimately failed), but if it spreads, you'll soon be seeing your colleagues as competitors, as with any other business.
    So, the way I see it, permaculture is about being environmentally sane (not only avoiding destruction but indeed working towards healing the damage already done), efficient and effective time and resource management, AND a land-based, local community-oriented, simple living.
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day All

    Great topic, Grahame!

    In 'defining' something, anything, we always need to be sure that we are all speaking the same 'language'.

    A very simple definition for permaculture is "permanent (sustainable) culture" (Holmgren, 2004, p. xix).

    Here, Holmgren has helped us out a little bit by qualifying the term 'permanent', with the suffix 'sustainable'. He does this because, as we all know, nothing is 'permanent'. All must change - eventually.

    So, what we are really left with is the term 'sustainable culture'. Therefore, let us first define 'sustainable'. In the context of which we are conversing, the following is a fair example:

    A resource or system that meets present needs without compromising those of future generations. Example: a continuously maintained forest where mature trees are harvested and new trees are replanted to filter pollutants and provide continued resources and products for future generations.

    Source: Residential Environmental Design Glossary for the Average Conservationist

    Which now brings us the the term 'culture', and a very simple definition by Yeats:

    Culture is the sanctity of the intellect.

    Source: Online Etymology Dictionary

    In this sense, we can see that culture is a human construct. It is what we think, feel and do. It is our (human) existence.

    In sum, I offer you my definition:

    Permaculture is a human construct. It is a system planned, designed and developed to mimic certain sustainable elements of the natural world, in order to provide for the present and future needs of the human world - indefinitely. It is a work in progress.

    Cheerio, Marko.
     
  8. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree with the OP. I can't agree with cassio who seems to be saying that it is wrong to earn a living in the cash economy. I find this naive and unrealistic. Sure if that's what you want, then do it. Even Bill Mollison as far as I know earns a living from outside his own permaculture farm. I don't believe in hoping that the masses (of permies) will become purists. I think that approach leads to the stagnation of the exchange of ideas. It leads to stagnation in everything i think. You are never going to have everyone living the ultimate permaculture lifestyle and to castigate those who have one foot in each world is narrow and prejudicial. There may be good reasons why people need to keep working. It may not just be because they want to maintain a sophisticated lifestyle.

    For my part the need to work is not in order to earn a lot of money. It is merely to buy plants, feed myself as if i were to live off my new garden i'd be probably on the verge of death by now, and get my garden established. After that i still expect I will need to be part of the cash economy and have no desire to become a hermit and or a hitch hiker. If i am to work, i do need a car. To go shopping, i need a car. To stay in touch with the rest of humanity, i need a car.

    But i would say my life is already pretty simple. The fact that i would like to travel overseas again is not a crime against the planet in my opinion. If I was taking several short trips a year I'd find that excessive but in recent years I've only gone somewhere every two years and then i get around by bike and make very little negative impact on the local environment. And from these trips, i have gained a great deal in personal terms.

    So I think we should be a bit less judgemental about what we think everyone else is doing with their lives.

    but as far as the point of the thread goes, i agree. If effective time management will give rise to a better permaculture garden.
     
  9. cassio

    cassio Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sun burn, man, I regret to see that you took my words as some sort of personal attack. If you read my post again, it will probably become clear to you that this was not my intention, I believe my wording was tactful enough to prevent this sort of reaction like yours.
    Please don't be so defensive, I am only trying to exchange ideas. Thanks for your feedback anyway.

    Cheers,
    Cassio.
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
  11. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    So much to respond to, thank you all for your contributions.

    Firstly, please Cassio don't ever say that your opinion is worthless, as far as I am concerned nothing could be further from the truth. I think every person's opinion is valid and important. I take your points about the destructive effects of many 'complex' lifestyles and I agree with you that effective and efficient permaculture will need to be community based (this is almost essential). But if you strip that back you will see that it is indeed one of the Permacultural techniques we use to effectively and efficiently manage our resources. As one of David Holmgren's principles says 'Many hands make light work'. It only makes sense to have shared responsibility and effort for things that will benefit a wider range of people. Similarly a land-based approach to lifestyle is also going to be one of the more efficient and effective approaches (if done well). So I think complexity will definitely be a part of a Permanent Culture. We will still need healers, we will still need specialists to make the society strong and resilient. Most of the vices you mention are vices in most instances I agree (and vices would generally rate poorly on the effectiveness and efficiency scale), and yet if those resources are used at their most efficient and effective then they may actually contribute greatly to a well developed sustainable culture. We shouldn't Throw the baby out with the bath water. But I like the way you are almost thinking :)

    Marko, I guess defining may not have been the greatest choice of words for my topic, in a way I was kind of reducing the essence of permaculture down to the thing that I feel sometimes gets missed among all the ethics, principles and stuff. However, I still believe that all of those ethics and principle are fundamental tools, because they are so intrinsically and sophisticatedly efficient and effective. Or they are tools that guide you to making systems that are so. I think that what is good in that sense for you will be good for future generations. And I think your definition actually coincides with what I am trying to say.

    Sunburn, thank you for your opinions. I personally think the monetary system is inefficient and ineffective and the state of society is testament to that. I would love to hear peoples 'good reasons' for continuing to live in that system. But I do agree that there is always going to be 'transition pains' as we move towards a sustainable culture. I also don't agree that you need a car to work, or to go shopping or to stay in touch with humanity. Buses, trains, bikes, feet etc, are other options. To be honest it is difficult for me not react negatively to your post as it pretty much goes against much of what I believe. But I respect your choices as yours.

    Cheers
    Grahame
     
  12. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    s/e
    Location:
    South Waikato New ZeLeand
    Climate:
    Cool mountain
    I am new to the concept of permaculture too.
    I think defining things comes under the heading of Observation.
    You can only define something after you have observed it.
    Someone once told me that knowledge that has not been evaluated is worse than useless.
    So if we just accept what we are told and what we see at first glance and go from there, the effects are not neccessarily going to be what we want.

    I have as part of my op basis the understanding that nothing is set in concrete, in that as you move along a given path your understanding on that thread so to speak grows, changes and developes.

    I have been using the ethics and principles as my guidelines in order to define this subject and how I can use it here.

    Through my meanderings through various topics some of which appear to have no relevence to growing plants, I have come to the conclusion that we affect our immediate environment with what you called our state of being.

    I think there is more to it than that because....
    before every action is a thought,
    with every thought there is an intended effect.

    So if we are taking the time to observe, think act in a positive manner as opposed to just reacting to things, what we wind up eventually doing should achieve more than we realise at the time.
    I tell people its quantum physics.

    What also attracted me to the concept of permaculture, is that it takes into account and accepts that wildlife in all its forms has the right to be there and rather than simply getting rid of what you dont like you look for ways to work with them.
    Have I got that part right?
    I'm not sure now but thats what I have got so far.
    Its not just about me and mine but nature and hers.

    I have two reasons for living/ working with 'the system'.
    #1 fear
    #2 cant see how not to and still get to keep my house, its way too cold to live under a bridge and that would be the only other option.
    Perhaps if I didnt have bills #1 wouldnt be such an issue.
     
  13. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    "Sunburn, thank you for your opinions. I personally think the monetary system is inefficient and ineffective and the state of society is testament to that. I would love to hear peoples 'good reasons' for continuing to live in that system. But I do agree that there is always going to be 'transition pains' as we move towards a sustainable culture. I also don't agree that you need a car to work, or to go shopping or to stay in touch with humanity. Buses, trains, bikes, feet etc, are other options. To be honest it is difficult for me not react negatively to your post as it pretty much goes against much of what I believe. But I respect your choices as yours."

    Graham first i will respond to this. I am not being defenisve as cassio says but i am defending my choices. To get to work. there are no trains, the bus costs $15 each way but i don't know if htere is a bus to get home with at 9pm at night or even one that goes in that will get me to work at about 6pm at night. Work is 20 minutes drive away. The road here is too dangerous for driving and it would take me two hours to cycle in to my work. For three hours of work daily and in the evening, this is not a feasible option.

    If the money system wasn't hte most efficient and effective one, the whole world wouldn't be using it. The state of society is not a testament to the faults of the money system. It is more to do perhaps with the faults of human nature.

    One good reason that occurred to me why someone might need to keep working whilst living an otherwise permaculture lifestyle might be that they or a family member have expensive medical problems. I am not a utopian as you seem to be Graham. I respect your choice to live a purist permaculture lifestyle but i certainly don't think its a feasible option for society to make a quick changeover and give up everything that they currently have and I don't actually believe its likely to happen. it seems to me that most poeple who start a permaculture lifestyle have a bit of moeny behind them from working in the money economy. How well would they go if they had to start off with nothing but a block of land and the dole? Not too good i'd say.

    Cassio I didn't take your post personally. I responded to it from a personal perspective. I used my situation to argue against the position you've taken.
     
  14. cassio

    cassio Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's all good by me, then.

    Peace,
    Cassio.
     

Share This Page

-->