From summer 2012-2013, I’m taking my first permaculture program with Delvin Solkinson. Each month, I’m posting a journal entry on my experience.

I FINALLY DID IT. I took the leap into permaculture. For those not-in-the-know (and there any many) the term means “permanent agriculture” and was coined by Australian Bill Mollison. Bill is the founder of permaculture, having developed it in the late 70s and early 80’s as a response to the unbelievable environmental and social degradation that continues to this day.

My intention has two purposes: 1) to learn how to grow food and become more sustainable in my own backyard, and 2) expand my ability to think in systems, not just in food production, but all areas of my life and society.

For a sobering (yet somehow comical) introduction to Bill, watch the charming the “In Grave Danger of Falling Food”

You don’t have to dig far into the present system to understand the total insanity of it. When strawberries are flown thousands of miles, when food is replaced with chemicals and additives, when most of us have no idea how vegetables are grown, and when we know more brand names than native plants. Permaculture, on the other hand, seems the obvious antidote. From Wikipedia:

Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks the question, “Where does this element go? How can it be placed for the maximum benefit of the system?” To answer this question, the central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

Sustainable agriculture is, of course, not new. Bill studied many older peoples around the world to integrate their wisdom and methods. As well, the mythology that lay beneath the methods clearly struck a chord with Bill. In his book “Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual” he writes:

“For every scientific statement articulated on energy, the Aboriginal tribespeople of Australia have an equivalent statement on life. Life, they say, is a totality neither created nor destroyed. It can be imagined as an egg from which all the tribes (life forms) issue and to which all return. The ideal way in which to spend one’s time is in the perfection of the expression of life, to lead the most evolved life possible, and to assist in and celebrate the existence of life forms other than humans, for all comes from the same egg.”

Two questions arise as I begin my permaculture journey.

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