Permaculture begins at home. But even before that, permaculture starts with the realisation that we as humans are part of the intricate network of nature. Interconnected to the soil beneath our feet and the air we breathe, and therefore obliged to care for the earth and those around us.
The best example of interconnected networks, is the internet. It is just sad that we had to experience this technological network before most of us realised that networks first existed all around us on microscopical scale in the soil food web and within our microbiome.
Not only are living things interconnected to each other but also inter-dependant. For too long we have been fragmenting, categorising, specialising and living separate in ignorance of how things work together.
Permaculture have not invented something new. It is not that it has not been there and now suddenly we discovered it. It is that we were ignorant for a while because of industrialisation and modernisation. And only now we are seeing the results of not been connected and it is not good results. Therefore permaculture is just the return and renewed awareness of what was there forever.
Permaculture includes all aspects of our lives. In the most permaculture books and courses you will find that our living, or rather our living space, is divided into zones. Zone 0 being our home, zone 1 our vegetable garden, zone 2 our orchard, zone 3 our grazing and animals, zone 4 our timber and zone 5 a bit of wild. The reasoning behind the zones is that you spend the most time and energy in zone 0, less in zone 1, even less in zone 2 and so forth.
Now: energy is the capacity or power to move an object. To get out of bed, requires energy. All day long we use energy to move and work. We get energy from the food we eat. In our finances we want our expenses to be less than our income. The same with our energy. We want to get the maximum output from the minimum input. That is why we want our kitchen garden to be close to the kitchen – so that we have easy access without wasting energy to walk a mile to harvest our dinner. We might visit the salad bed three times a day. Keep it close to your kitchen door! We only collect eggs once a day, so the chickens do not need to be as close. Our fruit trees in our orchards only produce once a year, place it further away.
We should use our energy as sufficient and wisely as possible. While walking past the tap towards the chickens, fill the watering can to water the salad on your way. Be energy sufficient and plan your living space and garden accordingly.
We want to use as little as possible energy (input), but on the other hand we want to get the most out of our natural resources. You want to use the water entering your yard / farm as much as possible. You want to get the most output you can. In a normal town household the water coming into your property is only used once and then goes down the drain away from your property. In a permaculture setup you want to hold as much water for as long as possible on your property, preferably without letting any water leave. We can start by simply using our grey water to water plants and trees. Basin water can be used to flush the toilet.
The same applies to the sun. You want to use as much of the sun’s energy as possible. By only having a lawn, you are only utilising one layer of possibilities. Adding grasses, vegetables, shrubs and trees creates multiple layers using the same space as before but converting more energy from the sun to benefit you. You are getting more return on the same space!
Between the trees, you can add animals to graze and fertilise your grass. You are still increasing your return! Now you do not only have vegetables, fruit and nuts to harvest, but also eggs and potentially meat.
By careful planning, observing systems and nature, you can create abundance in your living space.