Permaculture: What Does It Mean?
The words “permanent culture” invoke the ideas of sustainability, reliability, and resilience – all important aspects of the growing philosophy known as permaculture.
The foundations that make up this concept are not new. In fact, many of the ideas behind permaculture design can be found in traditional societies, ancient cultures that have existed in harmony with their natural environments for much longer than the civilizations of our modern times.
The inspiring, innovative nature of the concept of permaculture comes down to the three ethics upon which the philosophy is based. These beliefs are shared by cultures around the world, but the combination of these ideas within a design philosophy provides the potential for both ecological and social transformation.
Caring for the soil is a vital part of practicing permaculture. The idea of rebuilding the natural capital provided by the earth is a necessary one – without it, the consequences may become too large to ignore. A strong indicator of the health and well-being of a society lies in the health and well-being of a society’s soil.
Maintaining our planet’s valuable forests and rivers ensures that the earth will continue to live and breathe, providing support to the diverse life forms that we must respect for their own unique functions – even the ones we don’t recognize as beneficial to our needs.
Reducing our own consumption is an important part of practicing permaculture and caring for the many life forms on our planet – the less we use, the less we impact the environment.
Meeting the needs of our kin, our communities, and ourselves by practicing simplistic and compassionate methods will allow our surrounding environments to thrive and prosper with us. If we can grow through self-reliance and a sense of personal responsibility, we empower ourselves to focus on non-material wealth and support each other without consuming our valuable natural resources unnecessarily.
Permaculture ethics recognizes that to develop a greater wisdom, we must work together to explore our opportunities rather than dwelling on potential obstacles – even in times of desperation and strife.
Times of abundance provide us with opportunities to share with others – redistributing surplus to help support both ourselves and our wider communities. The idea behind Fair Share recognizes the limits to how much we’re able to give and how much we are able to take, but promotes the value of sharing excess bounty with others in need.
Often, we don’t realize what “enough” really means. In a culture where hoarding and accumulation of wealth is a measure of success, increasing rates of extinction among our animal species proves that this continued growth is not sustainable. This ethic of permaculture encourages individuals to find a balance between how much we need and how much we can give, and to enable others to do the same.
As we move towards a more sustainable future, it’s important to consider how the concepts and values that define the philosophy of permaculture can be applied to our modern lives – even, perhaps, altering social norms to embrace this more traditional way of caring for our planet and ourselves.