What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is about growing your own food with ecological design that works with people, our natural environment and ecosystems.
If you look around you, listen to the news, surf the internet, or read the newspaper you will learn that there are some serious problems that our world is facing. Our industries have been polluting our air, soil and water. Our emissions are changing the climate. We are facing droughts, severe weather events like cyclones and floods, food is becoming more expensive. We are running out of oil and energy costs are rising.
Permaculture offers positive solutions to many of these problems. You can learn to grow your own food, collect rainwater, produce your own energy, design your home so that it always feels comfortable and you don’t need much heating or cooling. Permaculture can help us create happier, healthier, more sustainable communities and have lots of fun on the way.
Permaculture was created by the bringing together of knowledge from many different areas such as agriculture, ecology, architecture, science and technology. Permaculture is guided by a set of 3 ethics:
The Earth is a living, breathing entity and needs ongoing care and nurturing. Our forests and rivers are the lungs and veins of our planet, supporting many life forms. All life forms are important parts of the overall eco-system and need to be respected for the role they play and the function they perform. Earth care involves looking after the living soil. Healthy soils, teaming with life forms, are important for growing our food.
Look after yourself, your friends and family, neighbours and your community.
The challenge is to become more self-reliant, learning to produce more of what we consume, consuming less, and focusing on our overall well-being. Working with others around us allows us to achieve better outcomes for all involved.
Set limits and redistribute surplus by taking what we need and sharing what we don’t. Harvest is a time of abundance, what we grow is likely to produce more than one household can eat. It makes sense to share the bounty. With more and more people living on this planet we are reaching the limits of growth. By finding the right balance in our life we can provide a positive example for others.
How can you get started?
- Many people get started by growing their own food; whether it’s in a garden, on a balcony, a community garden or at your school. It’s a fantastic way to interact with the environment and really get a hands-on feel for how nature works.
- You can ask your family to compost food waste or set up a worm farm. Worms and composting turn your food scraps into fertile soil that you can use to grow more vegetables and fruit trees.
- Reuse and recycle materials - in that way you create a circular system where nothing is wasted. If you have a garden you could discuss with your parents whether it would be possible to install a rainwater tank so that you can save water.
- You can start saving energy by making sure that you switch off all appliances that you are not using, reduce the set temperature of your heating in winter, or suggest to your parents to install solar panels on your roof so that you can produce your own clean energy.
- Discuss the benefits of having chickens with your family or school. Chickens are fantastic at recycling your leftovers and turn them into fresh, free range, organic eggs.
- You can learn how to bake your own bread, make jams and preserve the fruit and vegetables that you have produced.
- Some people have stingless Australian native bees or European honey bees to help pollinate the plants in their neighbourhood and to produce their own honey.
- You can join a community garden. Community – our neighbours and friends – is important, because we can share, learn from each other and have fun together.
- You can become a ‘sustainability champion’ at your school and create a ‘green team’ that works with your parents and teachers to create a school veggie garden, or eliminate bottled water, create a healthy canteen, install rainwater tanks, fund-raise for solar panels for your school.
There is so much that we can do to become more self-reliant, reduce our footprint and look after the planet and our environment. And nothing tastes as good as a tomato that you have grown and harvested yourself. None of the eggs from the supermarket are as fresh and delicious as the ones from your own super-happy chickens.
Compiled and written by Gregg Golding and Michelle Sheather