This is what we have experienced and done for our lives. ‘Permaculture’ comes from the words ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’. So it can mean agriculture that lasts, or culture that lasts. It is about how to take practical action to improve our lives and environment. It is about producing the things we need ourselves and supporting ourselves and our communities from the grassroots up.
Permaculture is a system of natural farming and gardening that cooperates with nature. It’s about caring for the environment, so that the gardening environment can care for us. We look at our resources (at school, at our homes, at our churches or clinics in the surrounding community) and then work out how we can design a better environment. ‘Designing’ means joining the different resources and elements (water, soil, plants, animals, man-made structures and buildings) of the environment together like a puzzle so that they can work better for us and produce a foodrich environment. It means making our environment able to support us forever – this is what we call ‘sustainable development’.
Permaculture looks at things in a completely new way. It turns problems into solutions that work for us. It helps us gain a better standard of living. In permaculture we look at how things work in nature so that we can copy nature to keep the land healthy. Modern farming often uses strong artificial chemicals which work against nature. In permaculture there are no ‘weeds’ and no ‘pests’. Everything can help us, even things that we would normally throw away can be useful, if we just open our eyes to see how permaculture lets nature do a lot of the work for us. Earthworms are a good example of this – if you put down lots of leaves and kitchen scraps certain earthworms eat these and in turn feed and improve the soil without any human effort.
Permaculture can do many things to make our lives better, like improving us [so that we can] improve our communities and environment, improve water supplies and keeping soil and land healthy, helping us grow fresh, local and organic food, providing us [with] firewood, fodder, building materials, herbs and other resources. It also provides us with a way to save and earn money.
Permaculture is environmentally beneficial, eating and growing locally reduces global warming and preserves fossil fuels as we don’t need so much for transport or refrigeration during long journeys.
Health benefits: the physical activity of gardening keeps people fit and healthy. Economic benefits: organic farming leads to higher employment, and buying locally grown produce supports local economies by retaining value within the community with every transaction. Increasing farm income means more money can be spent locally by the grower to run their business and home.
Social benefits: producing and consuming locally grown food increases and enhances communication between rural and urban populations. Speaking increases both the understanding about the food you eat and enhances the overall food experience.