What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a practical design concept applicable from the balcony to the farm, city to the wilderness. It enables people to establish functional & productive environments providing for food, energy, material, and non-material needs, as well as the social & economic infrasctructure that support them.
God is such a Creative God. When I sit to write, or practice my sketching (which only a mother could admire!), cook a fancy meal, or plant some flowers, delight always accompanies me.
It is in my concern for the Earth, my care for Creation that I reflect my love of God. In recycling, reducing my consumption of crappy foods, & increasing my cultivation of my own vegetables that I find Joy. And Grace. And Peace. And Health. Afterall, humans were first placed in a garden, to “tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15)Therefore, my understanding of how to garden, grow my own food, catch & store water, and even medicinal plants draw me into greater worship of God, delight in tending & watching over this garden, plus my physical & spiritual health flourish. This permaculture design course serves to develop my spirit and mind. Plus, as I seek to learn permaculture, then implement small, slow solutions in my life, I dream of sharing these ideas with neighbors, family, and unsuspecting strangers. Already, Sean & I brainstormed solutions & ideas for some of our Swazi friends who battle to have enough water, or decent soil to garden with. Obviously, Sean’s work with treadle pumps and helping folks plant their gardens serves as perfect inroads to brainstorm solutions with our friends. This permaculture design course has already given many more tools for healing the land, and us, people’s relationship with it.
We’ve hooked up with Permaculture South Africa, who’s facilitating our 12-day PDC. There are 7 other taking the course with us, so we collaborate and learn from people skiled in other areas. Not gonna lie, I was a bit disappointed that Sean & I were the most “extreme” people on the course. I expected to have Off-the-grid hippies infiltrating our minds with all kinds of resourceful ideas of saving energy, planting intensive gardens, and even how to get water from the river to our house. . . the encouraging part is there’s people from the city-living-life of Cape Town here, looking to design a suburban garden; another guy from Madagasgar wants to set up a completely, sustainable system in an area with high rainfall. No two of us have a similar situation, so our creative juices continue to flow, thrive, and flourish as we rub elbows in the dirt.
Each morning we review yesterday’s teaching and learn a new technique. So far, we’ve dug swales along the contours of the land to keep the rain water collected from the roof on the property. We created a gorgeous nook using that swale with edible trees and plants galore. We’ve designed companion beds, learned about chicken mandalas (LIFE CHANGING STUFF HERE!!!), and learned how to zone our land to put in minimal effort, with maximum output.
One aspect of permaculture that I adore is how lazy you can be. I’ve learned 7 different ways of “composting.” from letting the chickens do ALL the work for me, short of throwing in manure or kitchen scraps occassionally- , to creating rich soil in 18 days, or pitching stuff into a worm bin. Even letting the water compost logs into nitrogen, which feeds other plants. I mean, this stuff is a no-brainer! It’s easy, fun, and soooo good for growing my veggies in.
Setting up a small kitchen garden does take a bit of initial pioneering of the land, but once you’ve got the system going (maybe 2 weeks of work), it almost runs itself. No more digging up beds, moving the chickens every day, trips to the nursery to buy seedlings & compost, or having to work outside the home.
I love it! However cheesy it may be, I can’t wait to have our OWN piece of land someday that we can turn into an Eden. Also, apparently designing people’s space can be a career that helps pay the bills, while leaving a trail of integrated, beautiful, functional spaces behind. If anyone’s interested in growing a small garden, getting some eggs, and not putting much into the system, let me know, I’d LOVE to share ideas and encourage you forward!! It’s never too soon to start planning for Spring! :o)
[The three beds we designed & implemented in 2 hours. Recycled zinc raised bed. Olive tree mulched. Teamwork. Goodness]
[Alfred showed us his home in the township. This man has a green thumb, appreciation for beauty, knack for learning, and hard-working hands. Check out those gorgeous roses. They smell like a summertime smoothie! He’s growing food behind the girls too. Super encouraging. Can’t wait to show my Swazi friends who live on similar-sized plots.]