Permaculture strives to design a healthier environment and society. Regenerative farming has come along quickly but social permaculture designs have been a bit slower to emerge. Peaceful societies are less destructive to the environment. Good business models, valued workers and clean work environments are good for everyone.
One fundamental permaculture strategy is to make small changes where they are most effective. Lets take a peek at an industry that could do with a little greening: the beauty industry. The beauty industry touches everyone. It has been slow to move on social and environmental issues yet, these small changes can have a huge effect. Freeing people of toxic chemicals, and poor work conditions has resounding benefits.
Ecological and Social Style
In salons around the world, customers pay a small fortune to look good. Unfortunately the average hair stylist is poorly paid, often earning less than the minimum wage. This glamorous carer rarely gets a meal break, is standing all day and exposed to horrendous chemicals including formaldehyde. The beauty industry is not famous for the way it treats the workers or the chemicals is pours into the environment. But change is in.
Lloyd KK took the plunge and opened the first eco-hair studio in his region. He “wanted to use chemicals that have a low environmental impact, that were plant-based and renewable. ” He noticed “the green chemistry colours also have a shinier, more natural feeling results…Previously, I used to have chemical reactions to other colours, ie itchy hands/skin, skin peeling and puffy itchy face. These colours do not cause any of these reactions”
How To Avoid ‘Environmental’ Smoke and Mirrors
For the rare business owner who wants to improve their environmental credentials there are very few models to follow. On the other hand, there are a lot of ‘green’ imposters.
Firstly, Lloyd set about retrofitting old furniture, researched composting systems and trailed low-toxic products. Then he researched and assessed environmental costs of consumables and how to recycle them. He also chose green power and low-cost lighting. Finally he set up systems to minimise waste in the business.
In summary, the process of greening traditional businesses like the hair industry will become easier. As customers demand ecological responsibility and value healthy practice, the suppliers will adapt.
For businesses wanting to lead the change and reduce environmental costs we recommend international Quality Environmental Systems [EMS]. You can achieve self-assessment or simply use the system as a guide.
Ultimately, being prepared to up-cycle, retrofit and adapt equipment will reduce environmental costs, build a better culture and save your business money.
One of the greatest challenges for building a sustainable culture is learning to eat what the climate and soil want to grow and not forcing it to produce what our culture is accustomed to eating. During the recent ‘Hunger Period’ when Cuba was is economic turmoil, the locals grew food on street corners and in government city farms. The power of that community was celebrated yet Cubans hung on dearly to a cultural remnant called white bread. Bananas grew everywhere during that time and still they grace street corners because nobody needs to remove them. (See tips below on how to grow or remove them).
Given that most people around the world can grow bananas and most can keep hens or quail for eggs (if you can keep a cat or a dog, you can find a way to keep quail). Imagine growing and cooking pancakes from your own garden on your home-fuelled stove.
Green Banana Great Cooking
Bananas, green or yellow, make a great flour. In addition, it is gluten-free and full of nutrients. Real Banana Pancakes are super easy. Basically use two eggs for each banana and add milks or spices to your tasting.
Use It or Share It
In our warm temperate permaculture garden we have designed some micro-climates that the bananas love. And best of all our bananas ripen in winter! Winter is usually a lean time our food forest so this abundance is enjoyed. We have thousands of bananas which we readily share. but now we know how to use up the green banana, we can enjoy more of the crop.
Green Bananas of any variety can substitute for plantain in most recipes. If you want a quick and yummy snack, you can make green banana crisps. simply slice the green banana, salt it then fry it. This fast food will keep for weeks because it dries out crisp as it cools. Alternatively, you can dry your bananas in a solar dryer.
There are many recipes out there for banana beers. Most use a cereal crop such as maize to get it going, but anything once living will ferment. If you are keen to make pure banana beer beware it just may take a few conventional beers prior to get the stamina to like it.
Bananas are Tough
In all honesty, in good soil and mild climates, Bananas are hard to remove. If you need to remove them simply dig up the pups to give to other people, cut the main stems with a bread-knife, cover the area with an old tarpaulin, you can cover that with mulch and potted plants for a year.
Did you know?
Did you know that the banana stool is not a tree? Bananas are a herb. In fact, it is the tallest flowering herb.
Bananas are more than just a lunchtime companion. Every part of the banana is useful. For permaculture designs, the banana is a great erosion stabliser, good to grow on fast eroding banks and in gullies and shallow or intermittent water courses to slow the water down. They have a tendency to travel slowly over the years because the new pups need to grow in the shelter of their parent. Each mature banana stool will only fruit once so you can chop it down and feed it to the poultry, or a worm farm, use it as mulch or garden edge. With some practice you can cut tall fruiting stems whilst keeping the stem vertical. This way, the bunch is not damaged as you chop. This also means you don’t need a ladder to access a big bunch.
Design To Exclude Wind
The biggest thing that will limit your crop is wind. Wind rips at their leaves, reduces the local moisture available to their roots and can spread disease. Bananas love sun-traps. In your permaculture design, sun-traps have multiple functions.
Sadly, the main threat to commercial Bananas worldwide is disease. So, check that you are not violating agricultural restrictions. These restrictions are there to limit the spread of disease. The modern banana was predicted to become extinct by 2020, but we can all help turn that around by choosing unusual, organic and less than perfect varieties when we shop. Diversity is the key to our resilience.
And Wait, There’s More!
Nothing need go to waste from a banana plant. The leaves can be used for fencing, temporary roofing, bedding in the hen house, even as a compostable umbrella. Many people cook foods in the leaves and big leaves are a beautiful throw-away platter. It is also possible to make paper out of the banana fibers. This video shows a school girl making banana paper.
With a face of peace she lay anesthetised on the operating table late at night. It was 1956 in a small regional hospital. Her gall bladder had burst. The tired surgeon had a look and was shocked at the extent of the damage. His assistant said, ‘just stitch her up and don’t worry about all the extra cleaning’. The surgeon checked the patients notes, then looked at her face. He stepped back in surprise. “Do you know this patient?” “Um, Yes, she’s the boiler-makers wife”, “No! She is not just the boiler-maker’s wife…” He was now fast at work, careful and diligent. “This woman welcomed me to her little home for Christmas lunch when I was new to this country and all alone.”
Permaculture teaches us to recognise patterns: not just in nature but also in society. We can also observe and learn from patterns of behaviour, including our small circles of friends and family. By identifying patterns we can find inventive ways to learn and adapt. We search for ways to deflect harmful energies and foster useful energies. Keep faith in yourself to find peace in your heart, your family, community and keep working toward world peace because good planets are indeed hard to find.
12 Ways Of Celebration
1. Expect Less
Less is good for each and every one of us. People who expect less get pleasantly surprised when great things happen. On the other hand, those who demand a lot in life can become focused on the little disappointments.
Having less stuff is also really good for the planet. When stuff is made, it costs us in resources. Most of these resources are finite. These resources will run out one day. When stuff is transported, it costs the earth in fuel and storage. When stuff sits in your home, it costs you in storage space, time and chemicals to clean or maintain, then it sits in a rubbish heap for thousands or millions of years. Stuff is finite. Stuff does represent wealth. Whilst one person has stuff, another misses out. It is quite OK to have less stuff.
2. Serve up your best
Healthy food can be a real treat instead of processed food. Some processed foods can stir up irritability, depression and mood swings. Healthy foods don’t have to be more expensive. But the trade-off often means that to get serve healthy, unprocessed foods you need to set aside more time for preparation.
3. Take your time
Prepare your meal with a bit of patience. Allow time to serve a meal for a special occasion. Allowing an extra 2 hours can give you time to talk to your guests, answer the phone, supervise helpers, remember where you put something etc. Avoid experimenting in the kitchen on a special day. If you are going to have a day full of time-pressures and expectations, take the pressure off yourself. Unless you have the chance to practice making that special dish in the days beforehand, be kind to yourself and serve something you know you can do well. Another strategy to give yourself more time is to invite people for an evening meal instead of lunch.
4. Have mood-enhancing food
Comfort food is wholesome, nutritious and triggers happy memories. What were your family favourites in the festive period? Find how to make them fancy, fresh and healthy.
5. Make your own ‘tradition’
It is OK to serve cold foods in a hot climate. It is OK to eat outdoors instead of in the formal dining room. If it would help, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and relatives to bring their special dish to share. If you are invited to a celebration take a tray of nibbles that can be served or kept aside for later. (e.g. a box of assorted biscuits or chocolates). You can make a new tradition. One woman runs white picnics. She invites all her friends to dress in white, bring festive food to share and a rug. She has a different location each year but dresses up tables and a small shelter. Then she takes a photo of them all dressed in white.
6. Get outside
Outdoor spaces are healing. Eating outside and in public spaces can make the celebration more peaceful. Being outdoors reduces the background noise levels and the sense of confinement. It can be cooler in hot climates and can offer more space for the throng of people you love. It is OK set up a picnic on the front lawn or local park. You might like to invite the neighbors. Outdoor eating at night-time in warm climates is cooling, fun and festival. In cold climates you can break any old habits of grumbles around the table by taking you guests to a new venue – hire a small local hall or treat the family to a restaurant meal as their gift from you. It is far less likely that people will argue in a public place.
7. Set a safe festive atmosphere
Dress up in festive clothes, get out some music, add some talking pieces to the decor and provide silly hats. Bring out some festive cheer but remember to provide plenty of water and tasty drinks. Keep the alcohol low.Get fancy glasses for lots of mocktails as fun alternatives. Ensure that food is provided before any drinks are served. Drinktank noted a clear link between the availability of alcohol and domestic violence. Limiting the supply of alcohol delayed and lowered the risk of abuse due to intoxication. Taking these steps to slow the effect of alcohol, limit the intake and provide good alternatives works to lower the risk of abuse.
8. Be the change you wish to see
Be an angel of calm. Even when you feel rushed and tired, staying rational guides anyone who wants to helps. Keeping a good temperament, even if you feel disappointed in others, allows you have healthy discussions, fix any misunderstandings and find a way to achieve happy resolutions. Essentially, when you look calm and merry, your guests are more likely to feel welcome and behave agreeably.
9. Take things off the boil
Create distractions away from heavy conversation where year old grievances might raise their ugly head. On special days guests can tolerate a little quirky revelry. Provide opportunities to play old favourites like a ball game, a sing-along or a quick board-game. As the host, you have the rare opportunity to direct conversation to safe shores.
Bring out the crackers with dad jokes. A silly joke unites people (a sophisticated joke can leave some people feeling dumb).
Play with the children, even if this means you need to turn your socks into smelly puppets. Children are our hope for a better future. Teach them to value relationships more than the presents. The young ones are young for a few special holidays, so enjoy their company.
10. Let people retreat to peace
Most people are like lions. They like to rest peacefully after eating. In fact, there is a chemical released by the brain after eating that makes us sleepy. Give people plenty of comfortable options. Encourage your guests to find a place to laze and relax. Ideally, breaking into groups can help diffuse potential arguments in a group with disparate interests or opinions.
11. Be flexible
Once the feeding frenzy is over, try to relax. You can clean the dishes when it is all over. Enjoy the chance to connect with your guests. In conclusion, if you end up with a mess but no emotional damage then you can be happy that you have achieved your goal of peace and goodwill.
12. Focus on the present
You are the one who controls your speed. Enjoy what you’re doing in the here and now. For some people, the only time they allow themselves to slow down is when they get sick. Don’t wait until you are sick to be forced to slow down. After all, It is your holiday too. Savour the happy moments.
Doing a permaculture course changed our lifestyle completely. When we first heard about Permaculture, we had a tiny family, a dog and a lawn. We began to enjoy the new challenge of learning old skills. We started fixing things, growing food, making stuff work, and savouring the small successes. Instead of buying expensive stuff we spent our time and savings on building a healthier life, growing food and connecting with the amazing people in our community.
How Does a Course Enrich Us?
Every participant of a Permaculture Design Course has different needs and wishes. Yet, everyone goes home richer with knowledge and skills. The advantage of doing a course in the company of others is that you build friendships and a support network.
A permaculture design is as flexible as a bicycle. It can hum along in basic mode or you can ramp it up to a higher production mode whenever you want to. [Bill Mollison]
Doing a permaculture course in full enables you to create a design for yourself, your family, and friends. Your permaculture design can be drive by you as your needs change. Understanding how your design functions the connections. The productivity can be scaled up or back to fit your needs. The ultimate experience to be gleamed is empowerment.
The permaculture design course gives you more than a design.
It gives the skills and tools for empowerment.
In the earlier years of Permaculture interviews London asked: Short of starting a farm, what can we do to make our cities more sustainable?
Mollison answered: Catch the water off your roof. Grow your own food. Make your own energy. It’s insanely easy to do all that. It takes you less time to grow your food than to walk down to the supermarket to buy it. Ask any good organic gardener who mulches how much time he spends on his garden and he’ll say, “Oh, a few minutes every week.”
By the time you have taken your car and driven to the supermarket, taken your foraging-trolley and collected your wild greens, and driven back home again, you’ve spent a good hour or two — plus you’ve spent a lot of money. Permaculture can be as simple as sitting down and making a plan. A little effort is redirected from mowing to implementing the plan. Then time is spent harvesting the fruity rewards.
If you have always wanted to do a full permaculture design course, this is a great way to do it. Jump in. Immerse yourself in a full permaculture retreat with local and international participants of a range of ages and backgrounds.
Take time off to retreat and plan
Take time to slow down, think deep and plan for a new lifestyle. Perhaps you have already been learning heaps about Permaculture but not yet finished your PDC, this is a good chance to push through. Retreat and Renew. Learn about practical elements of growing food, social aspects of building resilience in your community and become more self-empowered.
Permaculture Sydney Institute engages only highly experienced and professional trainers for the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. All are practicing Permaculturalists deriving an income from Permaculture. Each has over 15 years experience in the movement, and vast experience in work and training. They also come highly skilled and qualified in a range of related professions and specialist areas.
If you want your stay to be super comfortable then be quick to book yourself a room. If you want to connect with nature and bring a tent there is the option to camp beside the pool and join in for hearty meals.
Lots more information at http://www.permaculturesydneyinstitute.org/permaculture-design-certificate/pdc-booking-form/
You could be forgiven if you thought that permaculture was about self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is not the idealised ‘GOOD LIFE’ as speculated in the 70’s by BBC. If you want long days of lonely, repetitive hard work and the very real risk of starvation and disease, then self-sufficiency would be for you.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a lifestyle that connects you with nature and your neighbours, boost your Self-Reliance.
In a nut-shell, Self-reliance enables empowerment through increased local production by giving, trading and/or sharing. ‘Self-Reliance’ values and cares for the weak and the elderly. Self-Reliance has the power to strengthen community connections, improve our health and the planet’s health.
Community Values You
Permaculture promotes a sense of community. The basic ethic of Caring for People drives us to build better communities. By consulting the community we design adaptable structures – physical and invisible. Physical structures include social hubs, educational and recreational areas. Invisible structures include trading centers, banking systems and news exchange facilities.
Permaculture designs for whole ‘villages’ not just individual households. This increases the efficiency of the waste cycles. Resources (physical, intellectual, social) are more immediate and usable. At best, the cycle of local production and disposal of the waste are tightly connected.
Self Reliance Grows By Sharing
Frequent exchange of little resources requires very little planning. In a busy community, resources are shared, traded and loaned. ‘Hand-me-downs’ are passed on as needed. Harvests and meals are casually shared. Valuable and timely knowledge is offered informally.
One of the most obvious features of this ‘informal’ economy is that the consumer and producer meet. They tend to be kind to one another. In his free e-book, Permaculture Strategy for the South African Villages Terry Leahy explores the power of the gift economy. The gift economy fulfills the permaculture principle of ‘working where it counts’.
In surprising contrast to this, small holdings can be highly productive and rewarding. This works especially well when the local community supports local food production directly through farmers markets.
Given that Rural suicide is significantly higher than urban, healthy relationships are the key to survival. When farmers need assistance (psychological, medical and veterinary services) help needs to be close at hand. Enriching the community bonds through localised trade helps to build bridges and understanding.
Owning a large property is huge responsibility
Large properties have heavy maintenance requirements. The cost of neglect can increase the risk of disasters such as fire. A community management team can help share this responsibility and combine resources for tree loping, noxious weeds control, soil erosion management, water pollution filtration, and emergency response.
Elders adopt the ‘benefactor’ model
Elders can share their workload whilst mentoring young people. Sharing your resources, skills and know-how creates a closer-knit community.
This is known as the ‘benefactor’ model. This model works well for Polyface farms and other small communities. As a result, a succession of skilled people in a specialist field is ensured.
Permaculture values people as well as our environment.
Most of the time, Bill Mollison smiled and lied. He led people to believe that change to a permanent culture was “embarrassingly simple” .
As a result, thousands of Australians were filled with optimism believing they could be instrumental change makers. Despite the fact that there were few demonstration sites and not much scientific evidence, a lot was invested by everyday people. And a lot of paid off.
The technical limitations of the 70s and 80s were huge. Most people didn’t know what food plants looked like, how to store rainwater in the soil, how to establish local barter systems or how to harness natural energies. But the ‘earth-carers’ of this new era moved with confidence and built a wealth of really handy information. With confidence, a movement grew to include research councils, academic clout and beautiful demonstration sites.
Unafraid Of The Unknown
Impatient and unwilling to wait for further research papers to prove the theories of permaculture, Bill encouraged people to go out and try things for themselves.
It was a brave stunt and it paid off. Without any funding or scientific rigor, many people went out and just did stuff. Although most of city projects were a mix of half-baked weekend projects and ‘so-called hippy’ social experiments, we must not forget the resounding successes in starving nations like Cuba. (Many quiet and hard working Australians like Robyn Francis and Robyn Clayfield went abroad to help people in need. And many are still there). From those bare-faced, naive Australians a gigantic world-wide movement grew.
Bill ‘Let It Go’
Success came by encouraging anyone who would listen and anyone who cared.
Ordinary people began to do extra-ordinary things.
Anyone and everyone was encouraged to try to build their observation skills, listen to nature, own homes, raise their children with different thinking and defy long held, well promoted customs and laws. Unfortunately, some of these laws and customs remain ridiculously defiant. (i.e. keeping thirsty, high maintenance lawns or not daring to hang your laundry outside). But other customs have quickly changed. Many practices such as mulching, harvesting water into tanks or rain-gardens, recycling, composting and worm-farming are now commonplace around the world.
Above all, it was this immense naive optimism that enriched millions of people’s lives. The optimism achieved mundane targets of reduced their waste whilst offering grand hopes for a better future.
Bill saw the desperate need for action and he led those willing to adapt.
Bill didn’t invent the wheel. Instead, he built the connections and handed us the steering wheel. Whilst he often acknowledged his mentors, he saw how a new set of values and design thinking could shape a new, sustainable, culture. These teachings were timely, insightful and brutally honest.
It’s Our Turn
At the Sydney National Permaculture Convergence Bill said he ‘stood on the shoulders of giants’. Perhaps his sudden rise to fame after winning the alternative Nobel Prize gave Bill super-confidence. Or perhaps it was because he enjoyed shocking people into action. Regardless of the root cause, Bill Mollison became Gladwell’s tipping-point salesman.
With his recent passing, it is now our turn to share the optimism, harvest information from the elders, support the new promoters, and continue to forge ahead.
Ownership is Ours
The 70s change-makers didn’t just follow his ideas. They were enthusiastic about them and owned the results. Yes they often failed but shared this and made continual improvements. Because the small successes were so frequent and so sweet they pushed on. Slowly but surely, the work of these lone-wolf pioneers built the huge banks of knowledge and resources we now know as permaculture.
Consequently, this wealth of information and ideas now belongs to us all. This empowerment was conceived by optimism and fed by a sense of adventure. People had food in their bellies and many surprise side-products to savour.
Empowerment is a gift that last for generations.
This empowered movement gave young people the confidence to build a better future. And many became those new change makers. As we enter each new era we need to keep our focus on empowering the young.
Permaculture is now more than just growing food in the cities to reduce pressure on existing forests. Permaculture is also about the social development needed for a sustainable relationships. Building peaceful relationships with one another and with the earth.
Since the 80s we have demonstrated how easy it is to grow food in the cities. We now turn our minds to developing the social aspects of Permaculture. This is the new frontier. With a similar spirit of hopefulness we can generate extra-ordinary action.
Finally, climate change is on the mouths of babes.
When Enough People Lead,
The Leaders Will Follow
When politicians and religions leaders such as Pope Francis start discussing the environment it is essential that we bring the gap between the enlightened elders and mainstream. Those aged aquarians, greenies, gurus and pacificists have a lot to teach us. They represent decades of failure as well as progress. Actually, it is the years of failures that are more precious than the small successes that have been adopted by mainstream (composting, pet chickens, mulching, rain-gardens, solar panels, rain-water tanks, biochar). This wealth of knowledge equips mankind to build a sensitive path to a cleaner future.
It’s Not About The Planet, It’s All About Us
Let’s be honest, the issue is not about saving the planet. This global call for action is about saving ourselves. Mankind has a very sensitive set of climate comforts. We can’t bear hotter temperatures. Most of us at sea-level but our homes don’t float. The food we eat also needs particular climate conditions. In fact, most of us only eat 12 different types of food plants. So we are enjoying a very fragile set of cultural conditions. And those conditions are indeed changing. There are very few people who continue to challenge the science. And there are many more enjoying an enriched and empowered lifestyle.
Quiet Permaculture Leaders
Permaculture leaders are usually humbly working and living on their sites. They rarely get out and would rather be designing than advocating. Being an advocate is not their strength, they are out of tune with modern propaganda. But they are very much in tune with design, efficiency and laws of nature and energy. They live by the principle of obtaining a yield. Screaming at the deaf is not something they would enjoy. But when the objectors quieten down, they can hear the singing.
Sometimes, the permaculture leaders leave their native habitat to go to convergences. They pack away their day-to-day musings, half finished projects, rare breeds and quirky experiments. They pack a bag, maybe scribble a presentation and venture out. In fact, most elders at the convergences don’t even present. You have to walk up to them and ask them about themselves. It is their curiosity in the mainstream world and trust in sharing that brings them to invest in others.
At these rare moments you get a glimpse of the philosophy behind the showcases of best practice in sustainable living. Once or twice in a decade a leader will join a permaculture convergence. It is at this moment you may get the chance to meet a real leader. Then you can see them demonstrate how permaculture can bring about positive changes in many people’s lives.
Get On Board!
Come and join the upcoming convergence in Perth, Australia in a few weeks. You can share your story and part of the solution. One of the best experiences in permaculture is being able to go and visit mature sites. There are some great tours after this convergence with rare glimpses into abundant, tested and functional permaculture gardens and homes. You will also get to meet many permaculture leaders and discover how it works in their unique bio-region.
Find out more at www.apc13.org and join us on facebook to keep up-to-date with the program and events. You can also volunteer for the event here. You can also support an elder to get to the convergence here.
Permaculture design thinking has brought success in many situations. Permaculture seeded the transition movement, built huge aid development programs and helped millions of urban gardeners worldwide. Permaculture techniques have enriched farm regeneration. But you don’t have to leave the armchair to use permaculture thinking. New groundbreaking social structures are popping. And business strategies have emerged.
We strive for a fair share but the ultimate success would be a win-win. A win for a rich and diverse environment and a win for human health and prosperity.
Principles: Stabilisers, Enhancers and Flows
A holistic design approach can contain steady stabilisers, fancy enhancers and an ability for energy and information flow.
System stabilisers build resilience into a design.
System enhancers enable acceleration.
The principles that encourage flow let the system self-check, adjust or adapt.
Mollison says ‘A permaculture design is like a bicycle’. With this new perspective we can see that the seat, pedals and symmetry of the tool ensures stability. The tyres providing padding to the wheels, the suspension under the seat, the gears and the brakes are all system enhancers. The bicycle chain enables the obvious notion of a flow of energy from the pedals to the wheels. But another clever system flow device is the steering. The steering mechanism lets the rider respond to changes in the path. This allows information to flow from the bicycle to the rider. Adaption can be instantaneous and smooth. The modern bicycle is a clever and comfortable design. A skilled rider can steer without touching the handle bar and often without concentrating.
Permaculture aims to design a culture that is as comfortable,
responsive and sustainable as a bicycle.
A Fresh Look at Early Permaculture Principles
Bill Mollison’s Principles:
Mollison didn’t formally list a set of permaculture principles in his text. But he and many other permaculture teachers have gleaned these from his texts including Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual.
Permaculture Principles To Build Stability
Relative location: position elements in the design so that there is minimal transport between them. Use natural forces where ever possible to work for you.
Multiple functions for each element: Each Element in the design should be used and positioned to perform a range of functions. For Example: A driveway for vehicles can also be used to harvest water and low growing plants can be planted onto the center strip of the driveway.
Multiple elements for each function: Satisfy each required function with more than just one element. E.g. heating can come from multiple elements – a mini greenhouse; a wood-fired stove, geothermal, solar radiators or trombe wall.
Energy Efficiency: Run your equipment to its potential. Share (or hire) equipment. Support durable technology that is adaptable and is easy to maintain.
Stacking increases the productivity of a system. A forest often has many layers: bulbs, moss, grasses, ground covers, Fungi, Herbs, Shrubs, Small trees, Epiphytes and Aerial plants, Vines, Climax Species, Parasitic plants. We applied this handy design tool in our chicken house design.
Consider Context: Work with the natural and social energies of the landscape and the community. At the steps of parliament house, Berlin (TheReistag), there is a grassed area that is designed to withstand wet conditions and high pedestrian traffic. In this situation, the compromise of hard and soft landscape tools works well with nature and also provides for the needs of the people.
Permaculture Design Enhancers
Stress-free Yield: By giving each element several functions we can accept that not all the functions can be performed all the time. A duck will hunt for snails, eat weeds and fertilise the garden. She will swim, preen, mate or shout at strangers. The eggs that are produced per busy duck are lower than in controlled conditions but the sum of all the functions is greater.
Use Biological Resources. Fossil fuel is best used
when it makes itself redundant eg. a Tractor can work a landscape that will no longer require a tractor to manage it.
Diversity includes a variety of species of food plants or animals. Diversity in nature builds resilience and resistance to pest attack. It also lets us find which variety works well in our own particular climate and micro-climates.
Information and Observation replaces Energy: Intensive systems with feedback and observation are more productive and reduce waste.
Permaculture Flow Mechanisms
Natural Succession: Imitate nature in your plans to help a system evolve to meet your needs. Build a food forest that looks and behaves very like your local natural forest.
Appropriate Technology: Maximise the use of a technology by sharing or hiring equipment. Make sure your equipment works to full capacity. Choose the simplest and most effective technologies first.
Energy Flow: harness existing energy flows E.g. Wind, wave solar, gravity or running water.
Learn about Permaculture with us, the pioneers of online permaculture training.
Children have the opportunity to make a cultural shift. When a young person discovers new foods, they set patterns of eating and behaviour that will shape the way their culture relates to the land and to native foods. Here is a moment for humanity to make a lasting difference. Any dependency on imported foods can be surpassed. The young family can build a rich understanding and respect for the natural world.
“Perhaps there is no greater thing we can do for our children than to ensure they receive their birthright, a love and understanding of nature and a knowledge of their place in it.” Janet Millington
Children – Nature and Nurture
By working with nature and not against her, the potential is greater. For example: one of Australia’s first huge mining towns, Broken Hill, has now become one of the biggest solar generation towns. All it took was an attitude shift.
Young people have heaps of attitude! We can work with their inventive nature as well as nurturing their love of nature. At the recent Illawarra Greenflicks event, we gave out our permaculture fortune tellers to get young people thinking positive about the things that they can do for a better future.
The Crossingputs sustainability into action for young people to protect and enhance the natural environment. We do this by involving young people in permaculture, landcare and habitat survey on journeys with us. These journeys can include hiking, canoeing and mountain biking.
Pioneering Outdoor Classrooms: CAROLYN NUTTALL and JANET MILLINGTON wrote their book to promote connecting with nature in young school children. “Permaculture is about all aspects of human interaction with the environment. For many reasons, including the reduction of open space and the issues relating to the safety of children and the advances in computers, those afternoons of running free with nature have all but ceased for most children today.”
Roman Shapla, a graduate of ours has been developing a Children’s Permaculture Design Course. Anything that is taught to adults can be introduced to children. We just need to allow more time and flexibility in the delivery.
Another graduate of ours helped build a highly school permaculture garden in an industrial heartland, Cringilla Primary School has engaged, empowered, informed and active green children.
Start Small and Be Effective
One of the permaculture principles taught by Bill Mollison is to start small and be successful. This gives positive feedback, experience and energy to reach for more. Young people yearn for a better environment. The first steps are to:
build awareness of their foot-print,
give young people easy ways to reduce their impact
You don’t need a rooster (male chicken) in your flock. Your hens (females) will live happily without a rooster. Sometimes, a rooster is handy to guard the flock and help solve problems. But when the claws are out, a rooster is no real protection against predators like wild dogs, quolls, wild cats and foxes.
A rooster can be a gentle leader. A good rooster helps finds food and he eats after the hens have eaten. A kind rooster will check out the nests for suitability and he sometimes pretends to lay in his efforts to assure the hens. Some roosters may be brave and put themselves in danger to protect his flock.
But beware, many roosters are simply mean and selfish.
Breeding Your Own Chickens
If you wish to breed your own chickens, you can get a rooster or you can buy fertile eggs. The main strategy of a breeding program should be to keep the loyal and gentle roosters. Don’t judge a rooster on looks alone. Even if you choose a quiet one, his gentle nature can change if he gets stressed. Watch for aggression and be prepared to cull.
Roosters and hens have very complicated relationships. A rooster will sometimes lie to his hens, clucking the signal “I’ve found food” when actually, he has not found any food and is just drawing them nearer. In these moments the rooster takes advantage of the temporarily puzzled and distracted hen and will mate with her. The amazing flip-side of this is that the hens nearly always know they are being lied to but choose to play along.
If you are keeping hens in a protected space, safe from dogs and foxes, you don’t need a rooster. Hens are very happy to lay eggs without having the complication of a rooster.
If you have a rooster, it can be harder to find their hens nests. The hens can go broody often, loose weight and lay less eggs. All the eggs will need careful monitoring for freshness. Be careful, fertile eggs can be laid weeks after a rooster is gone.
World Peace Starts at Home
Few people enjoy the sound of a rooster crowing in the morning. There are laws against these pesky noise disturbances. Find out the laws. If you can’t have a rooster, support a local breeder instead. There are lots of conscientious breeders like Avonstour in New Zealand who would love your support. If you want to breed quiet poultry, breed quail instead.
The Permaculture Rooster Works Hard
The Permaculture Rooster has many functions. He keeps alert for dogs, cats, snakes and eagles. He searches for new foods and suitable dust-bathing places. He is hot on the heels of the keeper each morning. He pays attention to where the weed-clearing is to be conducted and will return during the day in case he missed something. [The keeper is careful to define the work-space by throwing some seed or food-scraps]. The keeper can call the rooster when he is needed and the brood will follow.
The permaculture rooster works hard in the garden with the flock. He also listens and responds to distress calls from laying hens. He enjoys hiding in the bushes when the flock are resting or taking a bath. The permaculture rooster is camouflaged and on guard in the bushes. He is agile, fit and trim (not so great for eating) and smart.
A happy rooster can live a full 8 or 10 years. The rooster maintains his dignity yet lets the keeper attend to him if he gets sick or injured. But like all great gurus, he will slow down, and eventually hand over the reins to a younger guy. When his time is up, his body will make great fertiliser for a young tree. He needs to buried deep so the fox can’t find him.
Gentle Genes Live On
The chicken is one of the most well-traveled, cuddly and functional companions of the human race. The beauty of the chicken in a garden system is it will eat stuff we can’t and shouldn’t eat [like maggots and centipedes]. Chickens can turn also pests into eggs.