What is permaculture?

The term permaculture was introduced during the seventies by a biologist named  Bill Mollison (1928-2016), from Tasmania. Back then, he already predicted that the economic growth based on the industrial agriculture would end. The idea of harvesting a small range of products on a big scale, developed after the Second World War. This is also the case for the intensive livestock farming. During the same period, the chemical industry became present and introduced many pesticides, which became necessary for the monoculture.

It is obvious that the monoculture is not based on the principles of nature, like permaculture is. Everywhere in the world, farmers use destructive and industrial agriculture methods. These are harmful for humans, animals and the environment.The current agriculture methods stimulate erosion of the soil, destroy soil life and make the soil infertile. The consequence is, of course, a degradation of the soil.

We forgot how we can feed the soil and how natural, ecologic systems can function by themselves. This is why we need so many chemical pesticides! In the long term, we will exploit the soil so much, that it will be bare and exhausted. The natural soil life, that exists out of billions of micro-organisms, will be completely destroyed.

Nowadays, soil degradation is huge problem. The goal is to grow crops and cultivate animals as fast as possible for the most yield. Plagues like classical swine fever or fipronil are examples of the destructive consequences caused by the current agriculture methods.

Bill Mollison predicted this development already in the seventies. His goal was to create ‘an army’ of permaculture specialists to spread his ideas about sustainable and environmentally friendly food production.

The first permaculture course was given in 1979 on the ‘Tagari Farm’ of Bill Mollison in Australia. In 1988 he published his book ‘Permaculture, A Designers Manual’ (Bill Mollison, 1988). This beautiful book (and quite a big one too) is the base of the current PDC courses (Permaculture Design Certificate), which are now given by thousands of individuals, non- governmental organisations, government institutions and academic students.

Permaculture has three simple and ethical main thoughts:

  • Care of the earth
  • Care of the people
  • To share the surplus

These three principles create a multidisciplinary design system that unites soil, people, the environment and resources. This connection leads to natural systems in which every part has a function and nothing is wasted. Chicken do not only give us eggs, but they also take care of the soil. Sheep replace the lawnmower and compost the soil with their excrements. Also, many different crops will create more biodiversity (insects, bees, etc.). Besides this, our garden and kitchen waste can be converted into compost: the food for the soil. Everything is connected and has its own function. The result is a non-wasting, closed cycle system, just like we see in nature.

We use holistic solutions in not only rural areas, but also in cities. We also focus on the big diversity of subjects, like agriculture, forestry, water storage, energy supply, ecologic construction methods, waste management, animal (systems), economy, technology and social systems.

Our goal is to provide humanity with food, energy and housing, all in a sustainable way. We are also involved in social needs, as we decentralise agriculture and this causes more communication between people and more positive dependence. We work together with nature and do not harm her! In this way, we create a surplus on every level: a rich soil life, more harvest, organic crops with no pesticides, a friendly and natural way of working with animals and much more! So, we create regenerative, bio diverse landscapes in which plants, animals and people can unite in a positive way.

In this way, permaculture tries to end the current destructive agriculture system. We want to create a base for a sustainable, efficient and healthy habitat.

Today, we already have many examples of the results of permaculture. A well known example is the ‘Loess Plateau’ in China, where a 35.000 km2 of soil is recovered from erosion. New water systems were constructed and many trees were planted. In this way, a base for food production is created.

Nowadays, we also see that there is more interest for edible forest gardens, eco-villages, city gardens, roof gardens and small, local agriculture initiatives. So, permaculture can be applied on a big and on a small scale. But, a change of behaviour and perception is necessary! 

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