Permaculture : an interlude

The actual design process was rolled out by Geoff. He was addressing us as future Permaculture designers and teachers. Each design is location specific and begins with observation of local geography. Although each design is unique, all designs have these in common: harvest free natural resources mainly, wind, rain, sun shine, gravitational potential due to diferring heights; take into account opportunities from animals, weeds and state of the soil. An ideal design exploits these to the fullest. Design for zero or minimal waste. “Waste is pollution”. Consider every ‘problem’ situation as a gateway for an opportunity, which it is the duty of the designer to discover. Finally the designer lists nearby consumers, markets, businesses, skills and specialists and factors them in into her design.

The designer marks out the project area into five zones, ranging from the most frequented [home, cattle shed, Zone1], infrequently visited [orchard, Zone 3] to rarely visted [wild growth, Zone 5]. Zone-1 is then identified with great deliberation to maximise benefits from natural resources earlier listed. In Zone-1 is located the residence which is oriented for best comfort in winter, summer and monsoons. Food growing is a central feature of a Permaculture site; at a minimum vegetable and fruit trees are planted. Vegetable beds, compost making and chicken if kept, are all placed within easy reach of the house because they need daily access. These too would be in Zone-1.

Geoff Lawton has done much to further the cause of Permaculture. His lectures are backed by 25 years of field work all over the world. He’s also a techno-wiz.
He runs the Permaculture Research Institute which teaches the subject and undertakes development work. The Institute website is a repository of valuable information, constantly updated.The forum at the site is a very active one.
It is worth regular visits.Click here

Another mandate of Permaculture design is to build redundancy into a system. What this means is every component must serve more than one function and every function must be served by more than one component. For example chicken produce eggs and meat but they also scratch, deweed, eat pests and scratch. In the designer’s eye chicken is more than food.

Geoff’s detailed how-to instructions in the context of Bill’s overall philosophy began to come together as the course progressed. His instructions on how to make good compost in 14 days was alone enough to make a person with only marginal interest to jump in and try her hand. There were other temptations as well like integrating ducks, ponds and cropping area, building with cob and straw bale and using Permaculture communities for political activism. There were stories of his successes in the countries he worked in. And they are a few.

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