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Written by Sadie Allred   
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017


Often times we go against nature because we have genetically modified foods (GMOs) to produce as much food as possible to keep up with consumer demands. The supply is mass-produced and altered so that the products are uniform and plentiful. While this suits the growing population, it is not the only method. GMOs are extremely controversial and many groups are fighting to keep them out of our food supply. Permaculture is another mechanism being employed to try to feed our ever growing population . It was first developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the late 1970s.1 The term permaculture is complicated—however, it boils down to a system of agriculture that utilizes existing ecosystems found in nature. It means to create a structure in which the plants support each other, basing the system on utility rather than aesthetics.

What is Permaculture?
Permaculture, a blend of the words permanent and agriculture, is centered on the concept of creating a system that allows nature to work without interference. When you think about it, creating a system like this is not difficult. Forests, for example, are areas that have thrived without human involvement for centuries. In these systems, the plants are given the right amount of resources to where nature recycles those resources efficiently so there is essentially no waste. More importantly, permaculture is sustainable. There is no need to intervene in any part of the cycle as it is self sustaining.2

Permaculter Gardeni

Existing Permaculture
There are several, and large, farms and sites all over the globe where permaculture is implemented. For example, Ferme Miku Valley Farm (FMVF) in Eastern Ontario is a 68-acre farm that contains livestock and gardens, as well as educational/demonstrative areas for teachers and students to learn about permaculture and participate in activities.3 FMVF provides courses in which you can learn in the classroom and in the field, as well as hosting “guest presenters and offsite field trips in many topic areas.”4 The farm has a variety of areas such as their ponds that are designed as habitats for geese and ducks, a greenhouse, nursery, gardens, and a forest they use to teach outdoor classes. FMVF is currently expanding their livestock operations for further permaculture growth. This is just one example of the many sites that are utilizing permaculture. Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland, Green Beat Farm in Mexico, Habiba Organic Farm in Egypt, and Happy Food Farm in China are just a few examples of communities that utilize permaculture.5

How to Permaculture
Many of us cannot carry out permaculture methods on the same scale as the larger farms. However, it is possible to conduct permaculture on a smaller scale. Learn to harvest the resources surrounding you. Depending on your surroundings this can be utilized several ways. Next time it rains, consider collecting rainwater during the storm to be used later for your indoor plants. There are advanced ways to collect water, however, the simplest way is to place a container outside or under a drainage pipe. Check out this guide as well for a fun way to use your rainwater for planting!

Another way to take advantage of your surroundings is by using natural light. Window gardening is perfect for those who don’t have large yards to grow a garden. Window gardening can be as simple as placing a potted plant near the window or as extensive as using a series of water bottles and tubes for self-watering window gardens. It all depends on what you have available. For a little more extensive but very worthwhile project, look into building a vertical garden ! Alternatively, you can have a mobile garden. Retailers like Earthbox 6 give you the benefit of maintaining a garden with a small space. In a pinch, you can easily start your garden with a shoe hanger, although it is best to leave it outside, as it can be messy.7 Consider what your permaculture gardening goals are before starting one of these great projects. Want to tackle a bigger project than your apartment can handle? Consider talking your community into rooftop gardening . It can be a great way to have fun and get better acquainted with your neighbors.

Before starting any project, remember the key component of gardening: the soil. Making sure you have a nutrient enriched environment for your plants to grow is a key component. Mulching keeps the soil protected from the elements as well as helps the soil retain its moisture. Natural mulch like wood chips or bark can help you maintain the life of your plants. You can find more extensive ideas for creating gardens to grow produce here !

The concept of permaculture is to let nature take control. With today’s foods being modified on the genetic level, it can be hard to remember a time when food grew naturally. Taking steps to developing permaculture in your life can be a fun experience and at the same time you can be more in control of the foods you eat. Get out there and explore different ways to use nature for growing your own food.  It is a step towards cleaning up the environment, keeping you healthy and can even be a fun new hobby!

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Last Updated ( Monday, 06 March 2017 )