Permaculture is a contraction of permanent culture, or permanent agriculture. Permaculture is a way of life that is sustainable, self-sufficient, and in harmony with nature and the human condition. It applies to agriculture, the design of a society, and even the way people interact with each other. The design of permaculture emphasizes different patterns of function, landscape, and species assemblies.

After visiting the Green School (read Kieran’s Blog: An Eco-Friendly School), we went to the Kul Kul farm, the place that the Green School gets most of the food they need to feed their students and staff. The farm is heavily based on the idea of permaculture. All of their agricultural systems are sustainable, low-impacting, and biodynamic.

First our guide showed us a small garden that they had grown, and asked us to think about how the small farm in front of us differed from how a farm powered by industrial agriculture would have looked and/or felt. One thing that struck us was the biodiversity. The diversity in the plants made it aesthetically beautiful and resilient to (for example) a pest that would only harm tomato plants. The different plants even give and take different things from the soil, forming a symbiotic relationship between the plants around it. They also brought bees and other pollinators there to help with the growth and health of the plants.

She also showed us the animals they had on the farm, such as chickens and pigs. The pigs have a fascinating story attached to them. Three times a week the workers would go to Canggu (another town in Bali) and collect scraps from restaurants. They would get ingredients that were just a little over-ripe, and leftovers from the shops. The pigs wouldn’t care. They would bring all the food back to the pigs, and feed them. It worked really well. But they even got something extra out of it. The pigs were kept in an enclosed space, inside a fence. As you would imagine, the grass in the pen wouldn’t last forever, and soon the pig pen would have a barren dirt floor. When that happened, the Kul Kul farm people would relocate the pigs to an area that had more grass. But then strangely all sorts of stuff started to grown in the pigs’ old pen. All the tomato, banana, brocolli, and cauliflower seeds that were in the pigs’ poop that they had got got in Canggu were growing new plants. It was a win-win situation.

I think permaculture and what the people at the Kul Kul farm and the Green School are doing is just fascinating and outright amazing. I would love for them to keep up the good work!

TWELVE PERMACULTURE DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:

  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

 

Below: Kul Kul Farm

Below: Landscape
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Below: Animal Pictures

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