Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution
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Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution

2008, Environment  -   23 Comments
Ratings: 8.24/10 from 74 users.

On the eighth International Permaculture Convergence over 200 permaculture design course graduates and their mentors have gathered in Brazil.

Together, they unite 43 countries in the common goal of preparing for and mitigating our looming global crisis. Their strategy's clear: Create sustainability now through self-reliance.

The eighth International Permaculture Convergence, a journey called IPC8, spans across rural and urban Brazil, focusing on four education centers, thriving permaculture communities designed for the creation of clean energy.

Part of the permaculture design system is a practice called zoning, the correct placement of things to afford minimal energy input and maximum output. Permaculture is design. It's not just organic. It's design, and if the design element isn't there, it may be green, it may be organic, may be environmentally sound, but it isn't permaculture.

Beginning where the most input is required, the home is zone zero. If you have all the materials, in eight days, you can lift the house up. You can also attach a greenhouse to it if you need to cool the house down and use that moisture, or you could attach a glass house to heat it up.

If in permaculture we can provide really good models of all the systems that we've developed, and build good houses that are energy-efficient, that use renewable energies, that have really good sanitation systems, biological systems that are part of the overall design, we can really cut back on a lot of resource use. If we provide that to business as a way that they can continue to make money, but that they can look at it in a different way, we've gone a long way to turn around what is a problem into something that's beneficial.

Around the home lies zone one, an area set aside for the growth of vegetables, herbs, and medicinal plants. But, absolutely nothing would grow for a long time until we can manage to convince the ants to occupy other areas of the place. This is what all is about, to get good soil areas that ants will not bother, and then you can grow small amounts of food in small spaces and then build from that. If you try large scale, almost always the ants will win, and you're going to feel like they're working against you.

Directed by: Vanessa Schulz

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Urban dweller
5 years ago

I believe a premature society will began to automatically regulate population growth. It's the fast food industry that has created over population.

8 years ago

Viewing the single family home as the basis of permaculture transformation has some problems, but... certainly without that we don't learn what we need to manage other types of habitats. We waste so much heat and water and nutrient from "conventional" heating, sewer and other systems that it's idiotic to claim there's any water or energy shortage.

9 years ago

interesting and encouraging doc!

10 years ago

modest and intelligent ppl ... like the doc very much

zack morris
10 years ago

they livin like the omish/menonite

Jerry Brooks
10 years ago

Interesting and reasonable conclusions

10 years ago

Lawns should be what rugs are to a living room, a portion of the floor. The rest of the grounds that surrounds a house should be a garden of food.

Luyang Han
10 years ago

I went through the lengthy discussion about designs and sustainability, but really, the problem is not only techniques how we can build things efficient and sustainable, it is more about politics in general. A true sustainable society must, by physical laws, have 0 population increase and 0 economical increase averaged in long term. It is up to the people to decide whether to implement a social structure with 0 increase, or subject themselves to nature's scourge to force the society into 0 increase.

10 years ago

I took a Permaculture Certification Course with Scott Pittman at the Lama Foundation in 2011. Although it helped solidify my knowledge I must stress it is not necessary. It is much more useful and less carbon intensive to join a local permaculture of master gardening group on your area. The local group will have tremendous knowledge on what plant species work in your local region, which is indispensable knowledge.

I wanted to see if it was truly possible to grow 100% of your own food, with minimal external inputs. Basically, I asked myself, is it truly possible to create a self sustaining food forest ecosystem on a standard quarter acre residential plot?

In order to accomplish this I moved from MN to FL after obtaining my B.S. in Biology from the University of MN in 2010. I lived frugally, saving enough to put a down payment on a house in late 2011; I was rather fortunate that in that exact month the housing market bottomed and I locked in a great interest rate.

Its been less than 2 years, and I've turned my quarter acre, urban grass lot into a food forest containing mango, pomegranate, moringa, white sapote, feijoa, papaya, grapefruit, fig, passionfruit, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, ice cream java banana, kumquat, loquat, orange, grumichama, carissa, podocarpa, jaboticaba, muscadine grape, cattley guava, avocado (type A and B), pineapple, and jujube. I also have created a tiered vegetable garden with standard heirloom plants.

To save money I purchased my fruit trees at a young age, so most won't produce for another 1-2 years. I also get 25% of my caloric intake from my yard, which was just a grass lot 1 1/2 years ago.

I don't want to pretend that this is simple and easy. It cost ~$1500 using the most frugal methods (young plants, free cardboard and free city mulch, etc.).It is front loaded with tremendous amounts of time and physical labor. I've spent hundreds of hours in planning (which is essential, don't rush into it; measure twice cut once) and implementation, but every month the work load has steadily decreased. 3 years from now the fruit trees will have deep taproots and provide enough shade to be mostly self-sustaining.

I am not there yet, but its clear that it is possible to produce 100% of your own food, on a standard quarter acre lot, using ecological principles and pragmatic planning. Gardening is constant, never ending labor, growing a self-sustaining food forest is front-loaded with work, but allows for significant hammock time once established.