Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What is Permaculture??

Official Definition: Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material and strategic components in a pattern, which functions to benefit life in ALL it’s forms. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth.

I have recently finished a 14 day intensive Permaculture course at the Ranch. It was taught by an ex-pat who has been living in Nicaragua on a Permaculture farm called Bonafide (look it up, he’s doing some pretty cool stuff!) I learned a ton from this course and am really hoping to put many of the practices into use. I’m hoping to help my parents design their house and plan out the rest of their land in the future.

Many of the Permaculture principles involve common sense, but in our world of technology and pre-packaged everything a lot of the ideas that our ancestors employed have been left behind, and with those ideas left behind we’re slowing hurting the earth. This course has taught me a different way of thinking about what I do in my everyday life. Many of these things I have never realized because I’m so used to the mainstream way of doing them. And it doesn’t just involve gardening and food, it reaches all the way out to community organization and the use of water and animals all in a synergistic system. There are several communities around the world and in the USA based on Permaculture principles. I hope to do some traveling when I leave here to go visit some of these communities, and I know what some of you might be thinking and they’re not just some crazy “hippie commune!”

· Village Homes in Davis, CA is a model community based on what is now known as the New Urbanism Movement

· Curitiba, Brazil is a model city designed with the land and the people in mind

Learning about Permaculture has given me an opportunity to explore future options for myself. The community section of the course reminded me of a class I took my senior year of college that I absolutely loved called Intro to Design and Environmental Analysis. This brought back a lot of the ideas I was having during that class and hopefully I can find a way to follow through and turn it into a way of living or a career.

It has been an overall great experience that was capped off with a field trip to CATIE, an experimental research and learning center. It’s the biggest in the world and has books on all sorts of Agroforestry topics you can’t find anywhere else. We went there and walked through the gardens and collected seeds for the Ranch AND tried a huge amount of tropical fruits like cumquat, sapote, lemon drop mangosteen, jackfruit, black sapote, asai and coffee straight off the tree! My favorite was the lemon drop mangosteen, it literally tasted like the lemon drop candies I used to eat except juicier! The second day we were there I even climbed up the tree to find more! Then we went to Puerto Viejo to a farm to buy a whole bunch of trees and other plants for the Ranch. We’ve created a looot of work for ourselves! But it’ll be fun!