So as I said about a month ago I'm taking an online Permaculture certification course, and it's really fascinating. It's not like the rest of the web-courses I have taken, it has actual video lectures, and it's engaging because you are encouraged to interact with the other students. It's through OSU and I highly recommend that you check it out if that's something you're looking to get to know more about. It does cost a pretty penny ($850), but after completion of this course you're certified to call yourself a Permaculture designer!
This week we learned about the 12 Principles of Permaculture, and I am just really loving how much this already parallels how I feel life should be lived. So here they are!
1. Observe and Interact: I feel like I should sing you "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's Pocahontas, but I'll spare you. This however is the same basic idea, you don't own the Earth, you live on it, and you need to take care of it, and live in harmony with it. You're not going to be able to do that if you don't interact with nature, and observe the cycles and patterns that are in place around you.
2. Catch and Store Energy: How much rain just washes off of your roof and into the gutter? How much sun energy beats down upon your land and isn't doing anything other than drying out your grass? How much wind energy? Etc. Etc. I am not saying harness it all, but find a way to harness some, and if you're using that solar energy to grow a garden well, you're already doing this in a way, because you're turning that solar energy into energy stored in that food.
3. Obtain a Yield: You should be getting something from your land other than just yard work, you should be getting a return on your investment, and this applies to all areas of your life. Why put work into something only to get more work? I think this is why I have never understood having a huge green lawn, because you're not getting anything from it, you're just constantly needing to put work into maintaining it.
4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback: I think this is something us US citizens really need to start doing. Do you really need an SUV or a big truck with all wheel drive? Do you really need to drive to work, can you carpool, can you walk? What ways can you reduce the waste that your household produces? If you're not seeing these things yourself and you want to improve your carbon footprint ask!
5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services: This can apply to so many things, chickens can be a renewable resource. But we need to value these things, and we also need to start putting more pressure on the individuals who are supposedly our representative in Washington to start valuing these things as well.
6. Produce No Waste: I'm far from perfect on this one myself, I can't tell you the stack of reusable shopping bags I have that consistently get left at home. I however have been making great strides to donate items that can still be used, to buy used items whenever I can, and to fix things that can still be useful. We mustn't forget that there are 3 R's, so many people focus on recycling, but really we need to also remember there is Reduce and Reuse as well!
7. Design from Patterns to Details: Basically, start with the big picture and work your way down, this makes things much more likely to succeed.
8. Integrate Rather than Segregate: I think this one is kind of a no-brainer. Look at nature, you'll never see all the Pine trees growing in rows seperated from all the Oak trees, you'll never see all the squirrels living in one forest, and the birds living in another. It's this way because variety makes things more sustainable, you need all the little pieces for an ecosystem to function.
9. Use Small Slow Solutions: This will lessen your environmental impact, and also make it less likely that there will be a catastrophe if you solution fails for some reason.
10. Use and Value Diversity: This one is tied in with number 8, but expands upon it. Use that diversity, make it work to your advantage, and help you produce more!
11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal: Pay attention to what's happening at the edges of your garden, or any space really. This is where energy is exchanged for so many things. We lose heat energy through the walls of our home, so we need to pay attention to the ways we insulate. If we're talking in terms of a garden, the edges are where nutrients are absorbed from the surrounding land, or water, and it is also where weeds make their way in. The edges are also where the most interaction with wildlife will happen. So you can use the edges to either draw in or repel animals depending on your needs and preferences.
12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change: Sometimes things that you see as problems, can in fact be new tools. Your giant shade tree was knocked down in the last wind storm? Well, that opens up new space, and options for placement of sun-loving plants! Never view anything as a set back, just as a change that you need to consider and adapt to.
So there you go the 12 principles of Permaculture, I hope you've enjoyed this mini-lesson, and there are more to come!