Before I attended the Permaculture: Sustainable Gardening Following Nature’s Design at the Good Food Festival in Chicago, I had a sense I understood the broader principals of permaculture. I quickly found during the talk by Bill and Melinda Wilson of Midwest Permaculture, that I really didn’t know the soul of permaculture.
Permaculture’s essence is based in morality and the philosophy of conservation. Previously, I’d known permaculture plantings were the antithesis of monocroping. I knew that the systems draw from nature’s map of combining various plants together for a symbiotic relationship. I knew a greater emphasis was placed on perennial plants – when the bulk of our commercial agriculture – agronomy certainly – relies on annual plantings. What I really didn’t know was that the best reason to create a garden based on permaculture principals was ethical.
The Wilson’s introduced me to the sayings and work of permaculturalist Bill Mollison; a thinker and grower who has clarity to see the broader economic, environmental and food insecurity issues we’re experiencing. Here are a couple of Mollison quotes they shared;
“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. Make it now,” said Mollison.
‘Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple,” said Mollison.
The Wilson’s had many great offerings. Here is just some of what they said;
- “What we really need to live in abundance and security is plant life.”
- “Permaculture isn’t going back to something. It’s going forward.”
- “Nature never creates a monoculture.”
- “Permaculture is about gaining clarity in how we as humans can live abundantly well while also leaving the planet in better condition then when we arrived on it.”
The Wilson’s explained that broader term philosophy dealt with viewing anything unused – or perhaps unexhausted- as a resource. The idea is what comes from nature can be returned. The philosophy teaches us that as we follow nature’s plan, the harvests for all are increased while the workload is lowered. In the process, the environment is cared for.
Check out Midwest Permaculture for more info and for more education. They offer classes and training. Consider planting some perennial food sources like asparagus or hardy to learn more. One more quote from Bill Wilson to end;
“Permaculture is a creative and artful way of living, where people and nature are both preserved and enhanced by thoughtful planning, the careful use of resources & technology, mimicking the patterns found in nature – bio-mimicry- and a respectful approach to life.
Thus embraced, these attributes create an environment where all may thrive for untold generations.”
Thanks, as well, to wonderful Duane Marcus – permaculture educator and designer – for lending me his Nanking Cherry image. Most of all, Duane, thanks for your ongoing friendship and leadership in permiculture. Follow Duane at @leekfixer.