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I was sixteen when I discovered permaculture. I was a major agriculture nerd, but I felt a severe disconnect from what class was teaching me. I saw the pig farms with crowded animals and the various other issues in agriculture and I began to wonder, how do we fix this?
It was then that I realized that my longing for a natural farm was intertwined with permaculture.
Permaculture has since called to me in every aspect of my life. When my father passed I swore I would start the homestead we planned together.
What are the 12 principles of permaculture?
I think the main appeal of permaculture for me was the fact that instead of being about making money, it was a philosophy of life. I always felt as though this commercial agriculture that my classes taught us was more about growing food for now rather than sustaining ourselves for the future.
These 12 principles of permaculture speak to my soul and feed me in knowledge rather than just sustain my need for food.
- Observe and interact
I find peace within my garden and chicken coop. By watching the way the ecosystem interacts with one another, I find myself also interacting within my garden and farm systems. Rather than working against these forces, I work with them.
- Catch and store energy
This is one that I have yet to fully work on. It is a plan for the future when I am on my permanent homestead. Though the idea of being able to use solar to run my home really appeals to me considering our electric bill was over $300 last month!
- Obtain a yield
The yield for me has been the happiness and joy the garden brings me, but also, being able to feed my family diverse and healthier food options.
It is the happiness that my garden brings that keeps me going. Because, as my husband often points out, bell peppers are 50 cents in the store.
- Apply self-regulation and feedback
I began trying to reduce my family’s waste through cloth diapers when I had my first son! Now we compost and recycle.
Slowly, I am learning to reduce my impulse shopping and other factors that draw me into consumerism!
- Use and value of renewables
As I said previously, we really began researching solar energy! I have tried to switch to other renewable energy sources like a rain barrel. However, this is not our permanent homestead so I do not want to continue
- Produce no waste
Aside from cloth diapers, we use reusable products like menstrual cups, reusable zip lock bags, and other sustainable products.
Honestly, switching from tampons has saved us at least $200 a year. These cups have been a great investment overall!
- Design from patterns of detail
I love the way natural shapes look in the garden! I find that it brings me far more joy than bricked-out beds do.
While I do have square raised beds, I try to position them in more natural ways to help add to the eye!
- Integrate don’t segregate
When my father was still alive, my garden drove him insane. He always told me I had no real order and I always told him it was the natural order.
I still live by this. Let the garden thrive in neglect. These plants are in their own ecosystem and are flourishing in whatever way I have them going.
- Use small, slow solutions
This was always a struggle. I have always gone massive in life. But lately, I really have stopped to smell the roses, you could say.
As much as I want to start a massive at-home dairy and goat yoga studio, I think a nice garden is a step – for now.
- Use and value diversity
Diversity for me looks AMAZING when it comes to gardening. I truly value my ability to grow foods we do not see in the grocery stores.
I mean – purple carrots, blue eggs, and the weirdest of the weird. I think it is all beautiful! I also love the way my plants work together to stay healthy!
- Use edges and value marginal
I have been expanding the garden this year. I want to trellis onto the chainlink fence all my cucumbers and other vine vegetables.
Yeah, the deer might get some, but I am using space that otherwise just sits there.
- Creatively use and respond to change
This has been the biggest change in my life. When my father passed, it was a devastating blow since he was my partner in gardening.
Now, I plant this year’s garden without him for the first time in 5 years and it saddens me. But I relish in those years we did have and use it as fuel for my future goals!
I use permaculture and you do too in far more aspects of your life than just homesteading! It is an amazing philosophy to view.
How much land do I need for permaculture?
This is a question I hear all the time – rather than a statement telling me why someone can’t grow food using permaculture.
Any amount of space works! Whether you place a hydroponic salad grower in the corner of the kitchen of your studio apartment or have multiple acres, permaculture can be done!
The only thing that is holding us back from growing is ourselves. Keep reading about that until you realize that it is the excuses that hold us back from greatness.
How is permaculture different from organic gardening?
Organic gardening is by the USDA’s standards, but permaculture is a philosophy.
The USDA states, “These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” This is mainly a marketing technique.
While a lot of permaculture is organic, it is grown in a way that benefits the ecosystem as a whole and changes the grower’s life.
What are the benefits of permaculture?
At this point, you may be wondering, “Well, what are the benefits?” And well, there’s a good few
- Waste reduction
- Preservation of resources like soil.
- More diversity
The list really just goes on, but the main benefit is to our environment.
What’s wrong with permaculture?
Permaculture sounds like a dream, but there are disadvantages!
- A lot of work!
- It takes time and money
- Can be rather messy.
This being said, most of these issues are with impatience. Learning patience can help remedy situations.
As for money, there are ways to garden with no money!