Winter's dark days are flying in

02-Nov-2013

When someone has not heard of Permaculture I have my quick sentence ready to explain. "Its a design system for sustainable living that uses natures own design principal's since nature has been sustainable on the planet for millennia."   The next questions is usually. "What are these principles you speak of? and "Where to they come from?"

Well, the short answer is that they were extrapolated from nature by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem, in the 1970's.  Once co-created they became what some call the "orginal Permaculture Design" applied at first to agriculture. Many decades later the application of these principles is becoming ever wider spread to all aspects of human culture. Importantly the principals all fit under a framework of Permaculture Ethics: People Care, Earth Care and Fair Share.

As people explore the principals they come "back to basics".  However, the race is not over yet. Human's will probably continue on the current path until its clear to everyone that the planetary feedback of our current system (competition, and hierarchies of dominance) will threaten our survival. Permaculture principles and ethics are an attempt to strip away the cultural biases that come with resource exploitation and a way to see the systems clearly.  It can be a way to lift the wool from our eyes. Then, if we are lucky, we can be inspired by a different telling of history looking at other older ways of living that may help us, along with all we have learned in modern life from the study of the world including science and technology, to co-create and tell a new story.

This is the horse (in the metaphor of my new Mongolian friends) I am backing.

A new story might include examples of design based on the recognition that all life on the planet survives through the community of life, its interaction and interdependency.  It is true that individuals within the interdependant system compete. However, we have focused too much on studying things in isolation. The frequently quoted, out of context, Darwinian phrase 'survival of the fittest' leaves out the ecosystem relationships that Darwin knew and understood very well; nature's system's are full of interaction and relationships that create its resilience.

I used this focus on relationships and interactions in the design of a multifunctional greenhouse I designed for Carraig Dúlra a few years ago. Its growing spaces are connected to activities like learning and socializing, as well as, to other elements on the farm, such as the kitchen and and ponds and to the sun, and rain. This makes it easy to make it easy to cycle nutrients into people and to and from the nearby gardens compost heaps and water. 

Samhain in the Celtic and other traditions is the end of the year.  The begining of the new one. I prefer those celtic ways, linked as they are cycles of nature and our relationship with our food production systems. The time of rest in darkness is not yet here. The last of the years work must be done. I am harvesting still and planting things that will sit overwinter slow growing salads, leeks, and swedes. There are still some tomatoes ripening in the autumn sun in the glass house. I will dry some more in the drier. Seeds too are ready for storing as are squash, and tubers, spuds, oca, machua, yacon. They all need put in safe cool place. 

Some things are stored in the ground as they won’t grow much more, but can be left there eaten as needed: celeriac, parsnips, and brassicas.

I am harvesting and planting this years work too for its meaning and its ideas playing with connections made and fertility developed to see where I go on my permaculture journey next year. Probably not driving to Mongolia again, but this blog is a seedling grown on and now planted to form part of my winter dreaming.