Thursday, April 17, 2014

Farming 2.0

I'm taking an online course on Permaculture with Geoff Lawton and the Permaculture research institute out of Australia. I've been trying to come up with an easy way to explain it. Here's a few that I've seen and a few I've tried to come up with.

Permaculture - an easy definition

Ecology, applied
Ecological Architecture
Life support systems
Abundance by design
The Design of Abundant Ecosystems for Humans


For 8000 years we've tried to extract the maximum food from our environment through pushing natural systems up to and beyond their breaking points. Using energy intensive chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms and pest controls, and relentlessly specialized crop and animal breeding programmes, we have created farming methods that are highly productive but environmentally unsustainable and dangerously unresilient.

Built on cheap energy and an ever expanding agricultural land base, we are now faced with fossil fuel driven climate change and a degraded stock of fertile territory. Business as usual will drive us off a cliff.

It's time for a reboot.

The aim of permaculture is to create abundance through ecosystem management and design. To feed and care for people through the intelligent optimization of natural systems via ever increasing soil fertility and biological interactions.

It's like harnessing "the power of compound interest" for your farm or garden.

Living systems remain the most powerful energy harvesters known.

Through the application of careful design principles, food systems have been developed that can radically increase the productivity of almost any area. By maximizing energy and resource usage and beneficial interactions within the system and reinvesting surplus biological materials and energy into the system future fertility and productivity is increased.

Resilient and robust, these systems favour complex self-reinforcing biological, energetic and chemical interactions, whereby every element fulfils multiple functions and supplies multiple products for use within the system and for the humans relying upon it.

As the web of interactions is dense, the system is dynamically responsive to outside perturbations such as extreme weather or pests, all the while building increasing fertility and productivity through the constant "reinvestment" of materials into the system.

By working to reinforce natural systems instead of attempting to exploit them for short term, unsustainable gain, more people can be fed with less land while drawing more carbon out of the atmosphere.

And by fostering dispersed, redundant, self-sufficient ways of feeding ourselves, we increase food security and empower citizens to make positive changes both for themselves and for the planet.

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