We started the Personal Permaculture discussion group last Saturday morning at the Riverview Wine Bar. Some people are interested in learning about permaculture as it applies to their land; others are interested in understanding the principles in a broader context. That’s why we’ve called in “personal” permaculture. This week we reviewed the 3 ethics, the 12 principles and the concept of zones. I’ll go over those quickly here.
The foundation of permaculture design is three ethics that are common to most traditional societies. Those are 1) care for the earth, 2) care for people and 3) fair share. As I worked to apply permaculture principles in my garden last year, I was particularly mindful of the idea that the earth ALSO gets her fair share. After we take what we need, we share back with the dirt through composting and worm castings and worm tea. If I missed a vegetable and it went bad, no problem, back it went to the compost pile.
- Observe and interact — In other words, pay attention and engage.
- Catch and store energy — Think of energy broadly as any resource that finds its way onto your land or into your life.
- Obtain a yield – Remember, there are many kinds of yields, including yields that benefit animals and the environment.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback — Accept that there are limits. Sometimes those limits are expressed to us from external sources; sometimes we need to set them for ourselves as we strive for a balanced system.
- Use and value renewable resources and services — The world is abundant. Don’t always think you need to spend money to get what you need. What can you do with what’s already around you?
- Produce no waste — If there was no “away” to which you could send things, what would you do with those things?
- Design from patterns to details — Look at the big picture first and then down to the details?
- Integrate rather than segregate — It’s all about the relationships. This works for plants as well as people.
- Use small and slow solutions — Not only are you more likely to do it right if you’ve taken the time to understand the issue or opportunity, but if you start off small it’s a lot easier to change if you discover that wasn’t the solution after all.
- Use and value diversity — Nature is vast and diverse. Use that, replicate that.
- Use the edges and value the margins — The border is where interactions can occur, whether that border is the space between wild and cultivated or the sidewalk at the edge of your yard where you meet your neighbor.
- Creatively use and respond to change — Change is inevitable. How we respond to that change defines us and creates our world.
In landscape design, permaculture zones 1 through 5 designate the parts of your property that you visit frequently to those areas you rarely step into. When we consider zones in a personal sense, we can think of spheres of influence.
- Zone 0 – Inside your home/your person, your thoughts
- Zone 1 – Outside your door, the area you visit every day or several times a day/your family
- Zone 2 – Near your home/close friends and coworkers
- Zone 3 – Parts of your yard you go to less frequently (the places where things die because you forget to water them)/neighbors
- Zone 4 – The edges of your yard, your sidewalks and boulevards/friends and relatives you see only occasionally
- Zone 5 – Wild places you don’t cultivate, places along the edge where you rarely go/the impact you have without knowing it in the broader community
In my next post I’ll share some thoughts on our discussion of principle 1.