What is Permaculture and Why Should I Care? 

Today I’d like to talk about something I’m particularly passionate about. Yes, the many different forms Sustainable Agriculture really get me fired up. However, I have been learning about Permaculture over the past two years and it REALLY gets me fired up!

Before we get into defining what Permaculture is, I want to talk about hippies. Yes, there are hippies that practice Permaculture, a lot of them in fact. But, there are also non-hippies that practice it as well. Whether you are a hippie or non-hippie, don’t be afraid. To practice Permaculture you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.

The PRI of Australia defines Permaculture as:

Permaculture (the word, coined by Bill Mollison, is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture and permanent culture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.

So in a nutshell, Permaculture is permanent agriculture. However, there is more to it than that, as we will explore later. Conversely many people think our conventional agriculture is permanent because of all the large machinery and our technological advancement, but, I’m sorry to burst their bubble, it’s not.

Permaculture looks at the earth, people, agriculture in wholes. Everything is connected. This is not some hippie mumbo-jumbo crap. Everything IS connected. We can’t exclude ourselves from the ecosystem no matter how hard we try. To simplify the process of realizing that everything is connected, Permaculture is guided by three prime directives. You base all of your decisions on these these statements. They are:

  • Care of the Earth
  • Care of the People
  • Fair Share

Care of the Earth should be one that everyone should agree with. If we are to do anything, first we must see if it comes into conflict with caring for the earth. Spraying glyphosate would be the opposite of caring for the earth as it’s an extremely toxic substance. Manure lagoons are also antithetical to caring for the earth. Mother nature (without human intervention) does not allow giant waste pools to come about.

Moving on to the second prime directive, Care of the People. In all things we do, we should consider how this impacts other people. Will putting in a feed lot next to a small town have a negative or positive effect on the population? Of course, the feed lot will employ people. This is a good thing. However, the feedlot will also pollute the air, water and soil. Is this good for the people of that small town?

And last, but not least we come to fair share. What this means is share the bounty of the harvest, energy, food, whatever. It’s ok to keep profits for yourself, but give something back.

Permaculture is a way of life. Everyone can integrate it into their life as much as they want to. Some people go all in. Some just incorporate a small amount into their life. But think of how great a place earth would be if everyone incorporated these 3 ideas into their lives? People caring for the land and each other. Wow, that would be great to see on a large scale!

I’ll be doing some more in-depth posts about Permaculture in the following weeks.

What have been your experiences with Permaculture? Is this brand new to you? I’d like to hear from you in the comments section below!

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Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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