Today’s Solutions: March 03, 2024

Have you always wanted to have your own garden but thought you didn’t have enough room? Think again. With permaculture, you can have sustainability and self-reliance by creating managed ecosystems in your yard, no matter how small. 

In this story shared with us by an Optimist Daily Emissary, Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook explains how to take advantage of the space you have for garden farming. To prove it, he grew more than 150 species on less than 2,000 square feet. Here are 12 of his principles for optimal permaculture:

  1. Observe and interact. Look at patterns in your land such as natural sun and drainage and use them to your advantage. 
  2. Catch and store energy. Energy from the sun is free and plentiful, use it to your advantage. 
  3. Get a yield or harvest. Managed ecosystems produce surplus due to energy taken in from the sun. Harvesting this for your advantage can be as direct as picking a piece of fruit or indirect like using lawn clippings to nurture growing soil. 
  4. Self-regulate and accept feedback. Find a balance between harvesting and nourishing your land. A small yield could be a sign of overworked or overcrowded soil. 
  5. Value nature’s gifts. Focus on the holistic value of your assets. For example, chickens produce eggs and meat, but they also lightly till the land and keep pest and bug populations under control.
  6. Make no waste. Everything from nature feeds something else. Clippings and peels become compost while rinds and overripe produce can feed livestock and worms.
  7. Design details based on patterns. After you notice the natural patterns in your space, design details like pens, beds, and crop placement based on these trends. 
  8. Integrate, don’t segregate. In nature, no component of an ecosystem exists in isolation. Trees provide shade for animals while fungi decompose dead organisms to nourish new life. Follow these same principles in your garden to integrate living and growing systems and promote symbiosis. 
  9. Choose small and slow solutions. In our modern world, it’s tempting to buy fertilizer instead of creating your own compost or use high energy tools to speed up the cultivation process, but simple solutions which require minimal fossil fuels will be more sustainable and rewarding in the long term. 
  10. Cultivate diversity. Lack of crop diversity is one of the primary factors decimating our food systems and health. Strive to emulate natural systems with a wide variety of plants and animals for a well rounded and balanced garden. 
  11. Look at edges and margins. Where different ecosystems interact, such as the edge of a river or area between a meadow and swamp, is often where we see the most biological action. Pay attention to these biological hotspots and the role they play in your own land. 
  12. Cultivate vision but respond to change. Having a clear picture of the type of garden you want to create is a good starting point, but also tune into the natural changes in the landscape for cues on how the space is naturally adapting for land optimization. 

Our food systems have become simultaneously unnecessarily complex and oversimplified. We import produce from thousands of miles away, yet grow only a limited number of overproduced crops in most of our agricultural sector. Permaculture offers a solution to this crisis.

Permaculture is so much more than just creating a home garden. It is creating a cohesive natural environment that sustainably and reliably provides food and resources for your family while contributing to the overall health and wellness of surrounding ecosystems. If you want to try it, use these key steps to get yourself started.

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