Tuesday 19 January 2010

Introduction to Permaculture 2

I'm sitting here in the library on a cold and misty morning with writer's block caused by just how much there is to say about the permaculture weekend and how on earth do I say it? Okay, begin at the beginning and Start Small.

When Sustainable Bungay were offered the use of the library courtyard last year as a space to explore and demonstrate principles of Transition in practice, we thought this was a great opportunity to get together and learn some permaculture basics to give a structure to the work. The plan was for a 'living library', where we could grow food plants and herbs, have a wormery, rainwater harvesting and also as a community space anyone could get involved with and enjoy.

Josiah got in touch with author and teacher Graham Burnett of Southend-in-Transition (see http://www.spiralseed.co.uk/ for more info on his work), who agreed to come, and Nick organised the weekend. The class filled up, 15 including Graham, and off we went.

In the introductory go-round people gave diverse reasons for joining in with the weekend, though we were all united either by our engagement in Transition initiatives or a commitment to living more sustainably. I wanted to understand more about permaculture because it was permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins who started the Transition movement.

Graham gave us some background. Permaculture began in the 70s in Tasmania when Bill Mollison and his student David Holmgren researched how food systems could be sustainable in the face of environmental damage. It has now expanded to include all fields of human activity.

Then Graham did some mythbusting about what permaculture is and isn't:

It isn't 'gardening techniques'. It is a solutions-focused design system aimed at making and maintaining beneficial links and connections between human beings and our environment. Its ethics and principles can be applied to all kinds of situations.

It isn't a 'way out hippie cult'. It is firmly grounded in the world we can see around us and open to anybody with or without land.

But do we really see the world? And what is our territory? More tomorrow. Watch this space!

Pic: Graham Teaching by Josiah Meldrum, January 2010

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