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What is Permaculture?

Written by Madhav Bahl, a grade 11 student.

Permaculture was an art of the past and as humans industrialized cities without fields were made. This led to people taking their livestock with them when they went to cities.

By I Kid You Not , in Opinion (U/A 7+) , at July 14, 2023 Tags: ,

Written by Madhav Bahl, a grade 11 student

Do you know what Permaculture means? Simply put – Permaculture is a way of maintaining agricultural ecosystems in self-sufficient and sustainable ways

We look at it today.

In the ancient times humans were hunter gatherers. This meant that they used resources naturally to hunt, cook on a fire and then eat. As time has progressed we became more developed – today we can order anything we want on our phones, and it will arrive in 15 minutes. We’ve come a long way.

The question to ask is – while this has made life easier and, in some ways, more affordable, has the cost to the environment not made it worse for us? Human activity like this has led to a climate crisis that is threatening the world. Then there’s the point of nutrition – is the food that we eat nutritious enough? Is it really tastier? 

What is Permaculture

As mentioned briefly, permaculture is a way of maintaining agricultural ecosystems in self-sufficient and sustainable ways.

It is based on three principles- earth care, people care and fair share. It has been in practice ever since the existence of humans and the ways of doing so have been compiled in books by various enthusiasts including Bill Molison who coined the term permaculture and whom many consider as the founder of permaculture.

What I am asking today is – if permaculture was good for the environment then why did we stop it?

Permaculture was an art of the past and as  humans industrialized cities without fields were made. This led to people taking their livestock with them when they went to cities.

This led to 2 things plagues and other outbreaks due to unsanitary conditions for livestock and therefore for their owners as well. This also led to a mismanagement of resources in the rural areas as land was left fallow or was not properly maintained. 

To solve this problem a demarcation was made between urban and rural areas. This led to better conditions for both sides but led to another problem- the shelf life of the product.

This was an influential moment as we started producing food using fertilizers and we added lots of things to help food grow quicker and more evenly. As time progressed we started developing GM crops (Genetically Modified Crops). This made food tastier, cheaper and last longer but it compromised a lot of the nutrients that we get organically. 

As we got these nutrients and produced food cheaper we started movements known as Green Revolutions in various countries.They were shown as solutions for the future as they almost doubled the yield of the crops. This however is not sustainable.

The fertilizers used in the soil have toxicated the groundwater as well as made the land infertile which has reduced crop yields. Also the climate crisis and plastic pollution which has been exacerbated by this as manufacturing and transportation have also used a lot of resources especially plastics. 

While people focused on this revolution few noticed that we had completely ditched permaculture for a higher yield. As the climate crisis kept getting worse to an extent that it caused natural disasters people started to realize the vicious cycle they had created.

By maxing out the  yields for the first few years the results could only stay the same or get worse. Such agriculture was  not sustainable. The fertilizers used in the soil have toxicated the groundwater as well as made the land infertile which has reduced crop yields.

Also the climate crisis and plastic pollution which has been exacerbated by this as manufacturing and transportation have also used a lot of resources especially plastics. 

This has made us question whether modern methods of agriculture are even required. Every time we tamper with nature we destroy human life in the process as well.

This has been seen throughout history as well when in the quest of making a supercrop the Chinese government completely got rid of soil and planted clustered seeds and fertilizer which led to the biggest famine in the world. This makes it evident that we need to find a common ground between subsistence for man and nature and the only viable tested solution is permaculture. 

What can be done?

While permaculture still cannot be used at a large scale we can create self thriving ecosystems as a community for basic resources using permaculture. Permaculture uses all walks of life to create a zero waste ecosystem. This is essential to create harmony between man and nature which is something we have been lacking for some time. This will also lead to us having basic resources such as certain types of food to aid sustenance. 

How do we implement permaculture?

Permaculture can be implemented on various scales and though creating more impact together as a community can also be done individually. The basic principle of permaculture is to use plants that are local 

You can create an ecosystem with 8 simple steps 

  1. See the conditions of the soil/area that you have and make it fit for planting by watering, adding mulch/soil/compost and removing weeds. You should have completely fallow land at the start. 
  2. Add seeds of local plants (depending on the space you have, you can plant various types of plants. It’s recommended to try various plants at the start to see which ones grow the best. Also try them in various positions to see how much sunlight and water they need. This step’s work can be reduced by looking at a permaculture guide if there is one for your region. ) 
  3. Design your garden’s layout 
  4. Maintain your garden by adding compost and manure if possible
  5. Start getting creative and producing various types of compost- possible ways are using worms, plant and manure through cow dung 
  6.  Find a sustainable watering system-( for a community or a large area you can add a pond with a marine ecosystem using frogs, fish,ducks and algae.)
  7. You can farm livestock as well depending on the size.( add legumes or crops you grow for them to eat)
  8. Other than eating the livestock regularly feel free to reap the rewards for your labor.

While getting permaculture right will take time and money initially it creates a beautiful and efficient environment that will give you satisfaction. 


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