What is Permaculture?
All living things form relationships with other lifeforms. Even our bodies are filled with microorganisms that help to break down our foods into more simple carbohydrates, amino acids, and vitamins. We feed them, and they feed us. Nature does the same thing on a grand scale. Trees and other plants hold the soil against erosion as the soil feeds them. Their leaves become compost to feed the earthworms and other animals that break it down and make the nutrients available to the plants again.
Permaculture is the study of relationships in nature, and how we can recreate these kinds of relationships on the farm or in the garden. It is the practice of using different plants and animals to mutually benefit one another while increasing productivity and reducing the amount of work we must do to get it. Grazing animals can be used to clear land, hogs can turn the soil, chickens can consume slaughter waste, and manure can be composted to feed the garden patch. The imaginary spider web of potential relationships on a farm can be incredibly complex but allows ease of choice to decide what works for you in your context. Permaculture can be as simple as having one goose with your flock of chickens to scare away small pests and predators, or as complex as a multi-species grazing rotation.
Permaculture can be a way of life. For us, it is a tool of convenience. Using ducks to clear out slugs and snails while keeping the garden free of pesticides, using chickens to till the top layer of soil and clear crop residue, while adding nitrogen, having guinea hens clear the ticks and make the chickens aware of overhead killers, and having a good dog chase off predators, are all examples of permaculture in a way that small farmers and homesteaders like us can use to make our lives better and more productive.
Thank you for reading, and please stay tuned for my next topic: Building and Maintaining Healthy Soil.
May your days be filled with things that nurture your soul and fill your cup.
Mat & Ann
Here is the full list of our Profitable Gardening Series:
Part 1: Intro to Market Gardening
Part 2: Intro to Homesteading
Part 3: Intro to Permaculture
Part 4: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Soil
Part 5: Useful Farm Tools
Part 6: Farming Mistakes I’ve Made and How to Avoid Them
Part 7: How to Get Started & Resources