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A New Home for Creative Educational Ecosystems–Sol Terra!

I am so grateful for the perfect timing of the grand opening of Sol Terra–conveniently located right downtown Old Palm Harbor, a bicycle ride away, I could not have asked for a more perfect place!

Dem Bones

King James

We begin this weekend with our ‘on demand’ Permaculture Workshop series: “Design Your Home Foodscape”, which is a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) qualified course, with a twist! Normally, this course is 72 hours–often onsite for a 12 day intensive, which is simply out of reach for many who work or have family obligations. So, we designed this course with you in mind–it happens two weekends per month, 8 hours per weekend, and if you can’t make it one of the weekend days, we are also adding one weekday evening to cover the material missed in that session. Accessibility is the key, so you can pay for this course by the day, the weekend, or save a bunch of dough by pre-paying the entire course upfront.

Bee Happytat

So, what are you waiting for? This is the lowest cost and most flexible certifiable course out there! Oh, and did I mention–no long boring lectures, either–we cater to all learning types, and each weekend will have onsite analyses, hands-on activities, and fun, creative learning games!  Pre-Register on Meetup, or come a little early on Saturday (Class starts at 10AM each Saturday) to register before class.  I look forward to sharing your journey through sustainability into resilience and regeneration!

Let’s Get Durty!

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Design from Patterns to Details

Category            Permaculture Principles

“Can’t see the forest for the trees” (Essence of Permaculture, David Holmgren)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

(‘Jabberwocky’, Lewis Carroll)

Poetry utilizes some of the intrinsic patterns of humanity—we have used meter and rhyme long before written communication, because of the repetition of pattern as a mnemonic device.  Nursery rhymes were created, not only as amusements for children, but they also contain historical data as well as common-sense remedies of the day, such as the “vinegar and brown paper” headache remedy in “Jack and Jill”.  Oral traditions were used, most famously, by the early Polynesian sailors, who passed down navigation devices in songs, which were likely sung enroute from one island to another in the middle of vast oceans of water devoid of land reference.  Even the nonsensical Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” is understandable, because of its regular meter and rhyme, thus transcending language—a feat any parent is likely to relate to, as we sing silliness to our infants, dogs and cats.

moonphases Patterns are everywhere in our world, readily apparent in natural systems, such as the phases of the moon, tides, seasons, and weather patterns.   The Fibonacci sequence, known in nature as “the Golden Spiral” or ratio, is present in all patterns of growth, from florets to pinecones to conch shells, as well as proportions of the human body.  Anyone who wishes to design in alignment with natural systems must, then, not only recognize and understand patterns, but also learn to apply them in both concept and practice.  Once the outline is in place, only then do we move into connecting the dots and filling in the details—to plan a garden by first choosing the elements contained within it would only be undertaken by an amateur—a true designer would begin only after a thorough site analysis.

shamrockspiral

Exponential growth is also something innate in natural systems—Gaia’s credo is “go big or go home”, which is illustrated by the unfolding of a rose, the widening arc of the spiral, the waxing of the moon.  This is not the kind of growth exemplified by our capitalistic society—an overpowering and ultimately unwieldy growth better termed as ‘cancer’.   No, the ideal natural system design would include instead not only increasing yields, but also an automatic replacement of the designer for true regenerative quality.  In nature, the pattern swells and then dies, to repeat again—over and over, each component eventually becoming a part of a future incarnation.

Nature also designs for optimization—phyllotaxis is a study of the order of leaves on a stem, the pattern being one which allows the greatest exposure to the sun and nutrients.  Similarly, the branching patterns of many plants also exhibit this type of order.

wb051369

Rather than launching into yet another ode to ‘sacred geometry’, let’s take the opportunity to apply principle #1:  Observe and Interact.  In nature, as in mathematics, growth follows certain patterns as often because of another simple factor:  growth with constraints—as Donald E. Simonek points out:  “This reveals the simple secret of spirals in nature. They often result from growth with constraints. As the nautilus grows, the open end of its shell increases in diameter, at a nearly constant rate. It is constrained to curve around the existing shell. The result is a spiral curve, something close to a logarithmic spiral, which is a Fibonacci spiral.”  In nature, there are no straight lines, no measurable, accurate, finite absolutes (well, perhaps temperature, but we’ll see about that)—everything in natural design is curved, like the planet we live on.  Grids were invented by the Romans to assist in controlling those they conquered—it being much easier to sight down a row of evenly-spaced straight streets–curved landscapes hide many activities from line of sight.  However, as we have already noted, regularity and patterns are intrinsic to our nature as humans, we are comforted by the existence of structure, whether it be visible or not.

Here’s where things get juicy in the permaculture world, because when we start talking about “growth with constraints”, well, try Googling that.  What comes up?  Article after article about economy and finance.  There’s another pattern for you—unrestrained growth leads to collapse, which is what we are witnessing right now.  The natural outcome of collapse is chaos—a scary, unrelenting absence of all which seemed to make sense in our formerly well-ordered world.  Even so, we know that order does come from chaos, it just may not do so in the time frame we prefer.

Another random-sort of thought which came to me, being a wordsmith, is the very subtle difference between “constraint” and “restraint”—to wit:

ConvsReIt would appear that the essential difference between the two words has to do with the existence of a ‘thing’ or a ‘force’, as in a device in the case of restraint, as opposed to a rule or law or force, as in constraint.   To me, being visual, I see a constraint as in natural forces—the growth of a shell in a spiral shape, for instance, or the way a river flows—never straight, but always on an “S” shaped curving pattern.  ‘Restraint’, on the other hand, I think of as a safety belt, or being held back by other people from falling or fighting.

These might be seemingly unimportant details, but when we talk about systems design, it is vital to get both the ‘big picture’—the pattern—as well as the details, right.  This is where communication, and thus the correct word or description or definition, comes in like a Tsunami—get it wrong: devastation and chaos.  Get it right, however, and you’ve not only designed a system pleasing to the client, yourself and the community, but you’ve also prepared for those pesky 100-500 year events—like the ones we are now witnessing with alarming frequency.  This does not mean we have to get it ‘right’ the first time—as we move from pattern to details, this is where the magic happens–this is where creativity and willingness to fail is an asset.  This is also where it is most beneficial to work in collaboration, in community—one the pattern is established, the more diversity invited into the mix, the better.

In people systems, as well as in nature—this is where things tend to get messy.  This is where the ‘weeds’ crop up everywhere, and we must take a step back and re-define what we think of as ‘weeds’.  This is where I find myself with my eCo-housing project “Casa Seranita”, in fact—seemingly overnight, it appears to have become a frat house, but that is only when perceiving from the ‘old paradigm’ perspective.  Yes, it is a mess, and things must be tidied, both for the benefit of the residents as well as staying below the code enforcement radar—but in that chaos lies some really interesting pioneer growth.  Or, so I hope, anyway!  This could very well become the perfect Segway to Principle #8:  “Integrate rather than Segregate”.

Read the Series:

Introduction:  ”Unplugging”

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

© Loretta Buckner, 2014, We Grow From Here

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Loretta Buckner and WeGrowFromHere.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Produce No Waste

Category            Permaculture Principles

“Waste not, want not”, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

Today I drove through the aftermath of what has been referred to already as a five-hundred year event.  While this country’s West coast is in the midst of drought conditions, here in the Southeast, this winter has brought unprecedented severe cold weather in areas completely unprepared for freezing snow and ice.  All along route 95 heading North of Savannah the shoulders were littered with tree limbs downed by icy winds.  The first words that occurred to me, of course, were “mulch!” and “hugelkultur”, but I highly doubt that this is what the average motorist in the region might be thinking.  This is, however, the permaculture mindset:  “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”…and then compost the remaining lemon rind, or soak in vinegar for cleaning solution.

North of Savannah on US 95, hundreds of trees downed by '500 year' freezing weather

North of Savannah on US 95, hundreds of trees downed by ‘500 year’ freezing weather

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If there were one quintessential concept I feel is most important for those who wish to embrace permaculture, it is this one:  “produce no waste”.  Seems simple, yet, as we saw in “Use and value renewable resources and services,” these concepts have not exactly been adopted by the masses, yet.  ‘Frugality’ does appear to be something of a dirty word in our culture, where the entire economy is driven by waste and consumerism, and yet I believe this one principle is the fast track to getting the whole of systems theory.  Start small.

For me, it began with water—Florida being in such dire straits with our sensitive and easily depleted aquifer (because, you know, it’s so much more important to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into strip mining for phosphates which we don’t even use here), I personally feel that this is THE issue to address—hopefully before salt water begins to infiltrate.  As I embarked upon my first experiments with graywater and gardening, I wanted to ensure that the impact of growing food onsite would not be to deepen my water footprint, leaving behind a muddier mess.  So, I looked into all kinds of retrofit systems—for toilet flushing, for diverting graywater—and ended up with the simplest solution:  rather than going to the trouble and expense of installing something which may or may not have an impact, why not simply experiment with one simple step at a time?  In this case, it was flushing the toilet with clean, fresh water—I mean, whoever thought that one up was simply insane anyway!  The easiest way to do this, for me, was to stopper the tub while showering, and use a small bucket to transfer the water to the toilet.  Soon, I developed a system around this, saving ice tea bottles which I filled and left at the ready—the remainder I carried out to the garden for hand-watering.  For two years I did this—literally practicing Zen-like “Chop Wood, Carry Water”.  I think two years is a solid time frame to calculate impact, and indeed it was quite the impression.  Even though I had also installed an array of perennial trees and bushes in this same time frame, as well as a few annual food sources—my water consumption and thus the bill dove to a fraction of my former near-average usage.  The real ‘tells’ were my bills after having guests in the house—a stay of less than one week for two family members tripled the bill for the entire two-month period over one holiday!

Just.  One.  Thing.

Pick it—whether it’s water, or plastic, or maybe starting a compost pile or worm bin—choose ONE thing to focus on, and do it—give it at least a month, preferably six weeks, and see what happens.  Play mad scientist and keep a log, formulate a hypothesis, have fun with it—just be certain to look at all of the potential impacts—did removing or adding this one thing cause you undue stress?  Did it lighten the load, did you find yourself overwhelmed?  In the first year or so of my water experiment I did find myself frustrated from time to time, particularly when I’d left a tub full of water and needed to take a shower in a hurry.  Over time, I learned to plan ahead and redistributing the liquid immediately became part of the routine.  There is one essential component, by the way:  routine.  It takes six weeks to form a habit, so just imagine–after practicing so many habits which have negative impacts on our planet—only six weeks to completely turn it around and make a better choice.  Imagine if just two people stopped using fresh water to flush the toilet after reading this post, and they each told two of their friends, who told two of their friends, who told…

The moral of this story, if there is one, is that it does not take a total mind-shift to make a huge impact.  I can be a tad bit obsessive, it’s true, but I choose my obsessions carefully, for greatest impact.  It actually bothers me now to flush a toilet the ‘normal’ way, and I did simplify the process a year or so ago, by purchasing a simple sump pump to run the leftovers outside to the garden—no more ‘chop wood, carry water’…well, I take that back, there is the wood story—but that’s for another post.

So, if you come to visit me one day, you won’t need to ask why the water to the toilet tank is turned off, or what those jugs of water on the floor are for!

Read the Series:

Introduction:  ”Unplugging”

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

© Loretta Buckner, 2014, We Grow From Here

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Loretta Buckner and WeGrowFromHere.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

Category            Permaculture Principles

“Let nature take its course”

Garbage

Mister Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and baked potato
Then he leaves the bone and gristle and he never eats the skins;
The busboy comes and takes it, with a cough contaminates it
And puts it in a can with coffee grinds and sardine tins;
The truck comes by on Friday and carts it all away; And a thousand trucks just like it are converging on the Bay, oh,

Garbage (garbage, garbage, garbage) Garbage!
We’re filling up the sea with garbage (garbage. . .)
What will we do when there’s no place left
To put all the garbage? (garbage. . .)

Mr. Thompson starts his Cadillac and winds it down the freeway track
Leaving friends and neighbors in a hydro-carbon haze;
He’s joined by lots of smaller cars all sending gases to the stars.
There they form a seething cloud that hangs for thirty days.
And the sun licks down into it with an ultraviolet tongue.
Till it turns to smog and settles down and ends up in our lungs, oh,

Garbage (garbage. . .) Garbage!
We’re filling up the sky with garbage (garbage. . .)
What will we do
When there’s nothing left to breathe but garbage (garbage. . .)

Getting home and taking off his shoes he settles down with the evening news,
While the kids do homework with the TV in one ear
While Superman for the thousandth time sells talking dolls and conquers crime
Dutifully they  learn the date of birth of Paul Revere.
In the paper there’s a piece about the mayor’s middle name,
And he gets it done in time to watch the all-star bingo game, oh,

Garbage (garbage. . .)
We’re filling up our minds with garbage
Garbage (garbage. . .)
What will we do when there’s nothing left to read
And there’s nothing left to need
And there’s nothing left to watch
And there’s nothing left to touch
And there’s nothing left to walk upon
And there’s nothing left to talk upon
Nothing left to see
And there’s nothing left to be but
Garbage (garbage. . .)

In Mister Thompson’s factory, they’re making plastic Christmas trees
Complete with silver tinsel and a geodesic stand
The plastic’s mixed in giant vats from some conglomeration
That’s been piped from deep within the earth or strip-mined from the land.
And if you question anything, they say, “Why, don’t you see?
It’s absolutely needed for the economy,” oh,

Oh, Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!
There stocks and their bonds — all garbage!
Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!
What will they do when their system goes to smash
There’s no value to their cash
There’s no money to be made
But there’s a world to be repaid
Their kids will read in history books
About financiers and other crooks
And feudalism, and slavery
And nukes and all their knavery
To history’s dustbin they’re consigned
Along with many other kinds of garbage.
Garbage! Garbage! Garbage! Garbage!

Words and Music by Bill Steele; 4th verse by Pete Seeger and Mike Agranoff (1977)
(c) William Steele. Copyright assigned 1992 to the Rainbow Collection, Ltd.

 

Perhaps you have not heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch trapped in the North Pacific Gyre—this is the over 2 Million square mile vortex of waste plastic particles floating just under the surface of the water—this is an area of 75% of the Continental U.S.  There have been a number of well-publicized efforts to call attention to this floating island of debris, including sailing ventures aboard flotsam, such as JUNK Raft, not to mention the Earthships which have been built from the wastestream.

“Plastic is Forever” was the subject of Robyn Francis’ talk at IPCC11 in Cuba.

If there is only one takeaway that the student of permaculture should take from the study of natural systems it is this one:  no sustainable system will persist where the waste product exceeds the (re)usable yield.  More simply put:  “Don’t sh*t where you eat.”  Our throwaway society has come to the breaking point, because:

There Is No ‘Away’.

If there is one, single, most pervasive example of insanity on this planet, it is this simple fact—we know that we create more garbage than the planet is capable of remediating, and yet we just keep on making more.  Plastic does not break down.  Period.  Don’t buy stuff made with it or stored in it.  This is a consumer driven economy—your dollar and how you spend it is how you vote, so each and every time you buy a 2 liter bottle of soda or a case of individual water bottles you tell the manufacturer to make more.  Perhaps you think that if you recycle your behavior is redeemed, but don’t fool yourself—the problem is far too great for the 15% of us who do recycle properly.  “Overall, U.S. post-consumer plastic waste for 2008 was estimated at 33.6 million tons; 2.2 million tons (6.5%) were recycled and 2.6 million tons (7.7%) were burned for energy; 28.9 million tons, or 85.5%, were discarded in landfills.  We cannot continue, as responsible people, to silently witness our planet choke on polymer—it is not enough to do to right thing, we must also convince others before it is too late.

“The American way of life is not sustainable. It doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America. ” 
― Arundhati Roy

 

To this situation, I like to apply a simple principle of my own, which I call “Good, Better, Best” –sort of a PC (that’s PermaCulture, btw, not ‘politically correct’) ‘rule of thumb’.  It goes like this:

  • Water--You know there are sustainability issues with your local aquifer (as in Florida, where the contingency plan is that salt water will infiltrate within the next 5-10 years), so, you:
    • GOOD:  adopt some form a graywater system, whether it be as simple as using a bucket in your shower for use in flushing the toilet or watering plants, or more complex, such as the sump-pump assisted system I have.  You absolutely DO NOT water the lawn, or any other non-edible landscaping.
    • BETTER:  All of the above, with the addition of rainbarrels and/or other water catchment for use in the garden.
    • BEST:  Installed a full-scale ‘off-grid’ rain catchment system, including a composting toilet, so that you could exist entirely free of the local municipal system, whether or not you have formally dis-connected.
  • Energy—You recognize that not only is your local power company non-environmentally-friendly, but you’d also like to save a little money, so, you:
    • GOOD:  Use you’re A/C and heat only when absolutely necessary—perhaps when temperatures are under 65 degrees or over 85 degrees for 24 hours or more.  You employ non-HVAC passive solar methods of cooling and heating (insulation, windows, windbreaks, shade trees, fireplace, etc.).
    • BETTER:  You have installed some form of solar panel augmentation to your home energy system, and/or lighting, such as LED or skylights (in addition to the above).  You use a solar or some other alternative-powered efficient water heater.
    • BEST:  Fully off-grid, passive solar designed home, or one which has enough solar panels to sell power back to local utilities.
  • Earth—You realize that food independence is the only way to truly maintain a quality nutritional diet for you and you family, so, you:
    • GOOD:  Buy the majority of your food from a local fruit stand, much of which is supplied by local growers.  You have a small garden plot which you supplement with, or some fruit trees, perhaps.
    • BETTER:  You belong to a local food co-op, where the food is sourced from no more than 100 miles away.  You pick up your weekly share by bicycle or on foot.
    • BEST:  All of your food comes from onsite or a local farm no more than 50 miles away.  You pick it up by walking, biking, or bending over.

Getting the idea?  Not everyone has the time or resources to go for the “BEST” option—we all do what we can, the best that we can—the point is to do sOMething, and DO IT NOW.  Begin with yourself and your home, your lifestyle, your choices—once you feel that all of these are within the ‘Good, Better, Best” scale, move on to Make Friends and Influence Others.  Because, it’s really best to walk the walk, before asking others to join you, now, isn’t it?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao-tzuThe Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Read the Series:

Introduction:  ”Unplugging”

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

© Loretta Buckner, 2014, We Grow From Here

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Loretta Buckner and WeGrowFromHere.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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A Year in Review: Casa Seranita Project 2013

Its hard to believe it’s been a whole year since we began the ‘Casa’ project!  One year from ground zero to abundance and a Full House with poetry nights, permaculture classes, and much more to come.   Inspiring!

Please stop by on Thursdays from 11-2pm for our ‘Lunch & Learn’ permaculture shares, and sign up for the meetup so you’ll be invited to all of our workshops!

The Tampa Bay Permaculture Guild


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Unplugging: No Longer Going Along for the Ride (or: “My Year of Permaculture Immersion”)

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (Albert Einstein)

This post comes from several events which occurred last year: beginning with a three-month stint of ‘walking the walk’ which meant unplugging from internet, cable, and house phone, through the process of learning and witnessing consensus decision-making in action at the IPCC in Cuba, and ending with layers upon layers of un-composted (raw) material—both literally and figuratively (a common theme in my life, you may have already noticed).

In January, I had been attempting to switch from one mega-company to another for what I then perceived to be essential services: phone, internet, and cable. Granted, I rarely watched t.v. at that point—but I had my favorite channels or shows which I would record on DVR to watch when I had time, but having an internet connection seemed inevitable and quite necessary to the ongoing requirements of a real estate broker. The house phone was a number I had kept from when my mother was still alive (she died in 2001), and which she had for over twenty years—from the time we moved to Florida in 1977. That was, in fact, the hardest aspect to let go of—I remember thinking that someone might call that number, looking for her perhaps—someone who wasn’t trying to sell her something. It never happened—not in the 13 years I had the number in my name.

So, I took the plunge—vowing to remain unplugged for as long as it took to prove to myself how unnecessary these seeming ‘conveniences’ really were. That period of time turned out to be three months. The very first thing I noticed was palpable—when the signal was stopped, there was true silence in my home for the first time since I’d moved there ten years before. It was as if some background noise—a buzz—a sound I’d been so accustomed to I no longer noticed it at all–was suddenly cut off–and only in its absence was the former presence recognized. This was rather unnerving.

The next phenomena which became immediately obvious was in my first chosen public venue for accessing the internet, a necessary evil to remain in business: The Library. Those once-hallowed halls of infinite knowledge, sacred palace of hushed tones and reverential awe…not so quiet anymore. People talk there—a lot, and not in whispers. I had my favorite spots—places where I could plug in my laptop to both power and internet if required, yet the constant and persistent chatter of the other patrons—conversations in normal voice tone, games and even Skype calls on surrounding computers, and parents scolding children—all proved to be more than I could handle on some days. More than once I found myself on my laptop in the parking lot, with a thread WiFi connection from inside the building keeping me connected.

Flash forward to something a young man —wise beyond his years, attending a workshop at the International Permaculture Convergence in Cuba said, regarding ‘yield’ and expectations: “…when I attend a class and do not get what I expected in terms of subject matter—I look to what other yields there may have been…often that yield may be patience.” Oh yes, this is one unexpected yield which permaculture as a culture on the whole produces in great quantity!

Flash back to my first PDC (Permaculture Design Course), which I completed either just prior to or even during my ‘unplugging’—this was my first experience with an immersion course in permaculture, therefore I was unsure whether the level of, or more correctly complete lack of organization, was in fact not an intentional outcome of the design. There is after all, quite a lot of discussion in the community regarding chaos and order and patterns…but, as it turned out, those involved in this particular course were fully cognizant of the lack of structure, and barely held onto what little there was in order to complete the required 72 hours. There were moments of clarity, to be sure, but an overall or underlying structure was completely absent. Here is where my personal interest in the responsibility of the teacher to the student outcomes became a high priority—several of the students already having a fairly high degree of knowledge in the subject matter have since pursued the creation of improved class and curriculum design as a result of the chaos in that class. Which brings us to the subject of integrity—a multi-faceted jewel of a word, to be sure—it is in the persistent, focused search and recognition of this singular concept which cuts to the very core of permaculture.

in·teg·ri·ty

inˈtegritē/

noun

  1. 1.

    the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

    “he is known to be a man of integrity”

    synonyms: honestyprobityrectitudehonor, good character, principle(s),ethics, morals, righteousnessmoralityvirtuedecency, fairness,scrupulousness, sinceritytruthfulness, trustworthiness More
  2. 2.

    the state of being whole and undivided.

    “upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”

    synonyms: unityunificationcoherencecohesiontogethernesssolidarity
    “the integrity of the federation”

At the very core of Permaculture are its ethics: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share (or return of surplus). The entire system is taught as a structure-based design system, based on nature and organic process, but based on structure it is. One of the most basic qualities of any structure, organic or non- is INTEGRITY. Structural integrity refers to the nature of being whole, while ethical integrity is that of being morally sound, or also ‘whole’. The whole of permaculture design systems is often depicted as a flower—each overlapping petal the various branches of system design throughout culture (it’s not ‘just gardening’, you see). The backdrop, or canvas of the entire system concept is, however, the principles:

  • Observe and interact
  • Catch and store energy
  • Obtain a yield
  • Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
  • Use and value renewable resources and services
  • Produce no waste
  • Design from patterns to details
  • Integrate rather than segregate
  • Use small and slow solutions
  • Use and value diversity
  • Use edges and value the marginal
  • Creatively use and respond to change

We will begin covering each one of these principles in depth once a week for the next 12 weeks, so please be certain to subscribe to this blog if this material interests you!

Back to consensus, and Cuba, and composting—I have yet to write my actual blog post on my Cuba experience, partly because of time factors with the holidays, but also in great part because I know that I still have some composting to do (thus the ‘raw’). It was a big experience, and one that I feel deserves time and reflection before attempting to put it into words. In fact, I do believe that would be a great way to start on the principles, with “observe and interact”. The mass consensus demonstration fits well under “apply self-regulation and accept feedback”, so we will cover it in more detail in that post—for now, let me say that it does work—I have witnessed a consensus model in action, and on a very large scale, and it worked. Was everyone entirely happy with the outcome? Perhaps not, but they accepted it as the best solution—and that is the important factor right there. This is what we strive for in permaculture—the highest yield, the best environment for not only the majority, but for everyone.

And that, my friends, is what permaculture, and regenerative systems design is all about!