Saturday, 15 December 2007


Sheep at Dunree

Permaculture is more than just not digging the soil

Here is a short peics by Marcus McCabe from

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems with the stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a design system which connects various components so that the waste of one process becomes the raw material for the next. The elements of design not only include buildings and gardens but also orchards, pasture, coppice woodlands, legal and financial structures as well as appropriate technologies and the connections. The most misunderstood aspect of permaculture design is the importance of a clear plan and an installation process which will work ecologically and financially. For the same cost an infrastructure can be set up to either generate and maintain life systems or destroy them. It is all about designing cyclic systems. Unfortunately most of the investment in land-use in the past has assisted in actually damaging the primary resources bases namely healthy soil, clean water and air.The need to actually come up with sustainable systems is both urgent and real. Farming is in crisis. The system of lakes and rivers are in crisis. There is also a crisis in good affordable housing especially with space. Furthermore the actual food supply is in crisis regarding quality. These are all signs of a system in collapse. In my profession I talk to agriculturalists and engineers who will privately acknowledge that this is the case. We have reached a full stop with the current system of land-use. Squeezing another increment in yield out of any enterprise is just not an option... So.... where do we go from here?


The aspiring permaculturalist can put a diverse system in place but will need to concentrate on a number of medium scaled systems to generate cash. Taking the hen as an example; 500 hens will generate about £300 per week if well fenced and with supplementary feed in the winter. However 50 hens are almost a nuisance. Place the hen keeper adjacent to a good market gardener, cheese maker or coppicer and suddenly the whole thing becomes more viable. These enterprises while independent will be supporting each other if in proximity. None of the above enterprises would be possible however in a landless situation or for that matter would be too small and intensive (in the work sense) for most farmers to consider. What is needed is a repopulation of the land in low impact primary resource generating activity. Eco-village developments, which use Permaculture design principles as the process pattern, offer this possibility.I see it going something like this. We create revolving land funds. These funds create the land access and install Permaculture systems, wild places, waterways, forests and coppices, and access for house and workshop clusters. Eco-villages which use the principles of permaculture design are likely to be the most affordable and sane alternative for the traffic weary in the future. We have a lot to learn and reinvent but when even the conventional farmers are saying their systems do not work where else do we turn? revilalize,abundant,planet,Permaculture is primarily about connections and solutions. Not only is a beneficial assembly of plants, animal and structures needed but a beneficial assembly of people working bio-regionally to create ecosystems in which the human element is actively integrated in generating primary wealth. This is our direction in moving towards a revitalized and abundant society and planet.

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