One of the foundations of Permaculture and that is its ethics. Permaculture is unique because it has ethics. These ethics, like the design principles, are not unique to Permaculture they are found in many traditional wisdom's many of the religions also have similar ethics. Originally when David and Bill were discussing Permaculture I am not sure if they saw how far Permaculture would or could expand but, I have to say I am really pleased it has logically progressed to this stage. For me, and I suspect for a lot of others concerned with the environment, global warming, food supply, peak oil and peak money Permaculture ethics gives us a philosophical guide or foundation on which to build.
Permaculture’s ethics are very simple they are:-
Care of the Earth
Care of the People
I can hear you saying now “How do they sit with backyard permaculture?” Let’s break them apart and see.
Care of the Earth – care of your backyard/ your neighbourhood.
Conservation of biodiversity – you are gardening organically, you’re not using GMO seeds or petrochemical based fertilisers and sprays and you are not using herbicides to manage your weeds, and you are conserving the biodiversity. You are caring for all organisms such as animals, plants, water and air, you are caring for the soil and this is care of the earth. The earth is a living ecosystem upon which plants depend for their source of food and we, in turn need plants as our source of food.
This then shows you are indeed caring for the earth you are caring about what keeps us alive – air, food, shelter and water, it is these essential elements, which we cannot get from anywhere else.
Care of the People – your family, your friends and your neighbours.
Caring for the earth includes caring for the people who inhabit it. This principle affirms that humans are not separate from the natural world and that all living things have important contributions to make. It calls on all of us to cultivate our kindness, creativity, joy and generosity. With open and honest communication we can accurately identify and fulfil people’s basic needs, we can cultivate healthy human settlements and alleviate the pressures that lead to destructive acts.
Fair Share – sharing the harvest.
This is one of the aims of producing this site and one of your aims because you’re following it. It is about take, have, and use only what you need, and when there is surplus, give to others and recycle resources back into the system.
The 12 Principles
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements. This approach guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics. By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy. Permaculture promotes sustainability and self-reliance by creating managed ecosystems—modelled on natural ones—right in our backyards. It’s “garden farming,” says Peter Bane in The Permaculture Handbook – Good Book BTW. Think you don’t have enough room? Many have grown more than 150 species on less than 185sqmtrs. The 12 principles to guide your permaculture project.
Image via permacultureprinciples.com
Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation. Learn the patterns of your land. Where does the rain run off? Where does the wind come from? What’s sunny and what’s in the shade?
Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need. You get a gift of energy from the sun. Use it to replace the fossil energy that’s changing our climate.
Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing. Natural systems produce a surplus, representing the captured free energy from the sun. In a managed ecosystem, we can harvest that surplus. The harvest may be as direct as picking an apple or it may take several steps: grass makes hay to feed goats that produce both manure to feed more plants and meat for humans to eat.
Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well. Taking too much out will make the system break down. If your harvest is sparse, take it as a lesson: find a balance between yield and maintaining the soil.
Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources. If we focus only on products, we can miss the bonuses that nature provides. Chickens, for instance, produce eggs and meat. At the same time they increase soil fertility and will do light tilling as they scratch for bugs and seeds.
Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. In nature, everything’s food for something else—there’s no “away” where waste can go. Use animals, worms, and composting to make food for the soil.
Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go. Nature has had billions of years to work out how to design systems. Follow natural patterns to make the movement of nutrients and the interactions between plants, animals, and humans as efficient as they are in nature.
Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other. There’s no separate living space in a forest and nothing that serves a single purpose. Trees provide shade for plants on the forest floor, habitat for birds and animals, and an annual supply of food for plants, animals, and birds. Integrating living and growing spaces makes for more production and more comfort.
Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes. The fast pace of modern life is not the pace of nature. It also requires huge amounts of fossil energy. Use the simplest, lowest-energy tools and processes. It may take more time, but it’s sustainable.
Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides. In natural systems, there’s always a mix of plants and animals. Include native plants and a wide variety of cultivated ones. It’s more resilient, more productive, and more interesting.
Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system. Where different environments connect is where the most biological action is: the edges of swamps and rivers, the border between forest and meadow.
Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time. Once your ecosystem is in place, the richness of its life allows it to adapt to changing conditions. Your observation and interaction allow you to help with that adaptation.
Susan and her husband live in Beechworth Victoria, Australia.
We would love to have you visit.......... again soon!