Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
In a online PDC, Permaculture Design Course, I am taking I was asked what my thoughts were on the Primary Permaculture Ethics and what we can do to apply them in our lives. Here are some of my thoughts, what are yours?
The primary Permaculture Ethics are:
1. Care of the Earth
2. Care of People
3. Fair Share, share the surplus (or as seen in other Locations – Set limits to population and consumption)
These ethical principles should govern everything we do and can be applied by everyone. If we as individuals really applied the first ethic, Care of the Earth, our actions would by default encompass the following two ethics but by listing them separately our focus as a human race is more specifically defined.
Care of the Earth has been lacking to such an extent that we now face the real possibility that the damage to the Earth as a whole or at least certain areas of it is so severe that it can not be easily recovered if at all. The plundering of Earth’s resources and the poisoning of the land, air and water with so many toxic chemicals and gases has led us to the brink of catastrophe. These facts emphasize the need for all of us to apply the ethics and principles of Permaculture on an personal and community level.
Care of people is also lacking throughout the Earth today. This is seen by the extreme poverty and malnutrition faced by many people in developing lands who not only face problems accessing their basic food needs but also lack fresh water and shelter so basic to survival. This despite the fact that others in the same country or neighboring countries have an over abundance. The lack of care for people is also seen in so-called developed lands where the gap between the ultra wealthy and the masses continues to widen and where mega-corporations promote an unhealthy consumer based lifestyle and diet leading to severe obesity and drug addiction to compensate for the severe health issues associated with this lifestyle. All of this so a few corporations and a handful of people can continue to maintain their control and their wealth.
This Earth, if properly cared for and managed, could provide an abundance of healthy food and water for all of its inhabitants. If the greed and control of the few in power were absent, Earth’s abundance could be shared with everyone that needed it. That being said, the reality is that this planet can support only a certain amount of life at any given time or its natural systems will become out of balance. That being the case, we as individuals and communities need to limit our use of its resources and take personal responsibility for ourselves and our families. By being responsible we will also do our part to limit this Earth’s population by being reasonable with the size of our families and the amount we consume as families. It is daunting to consider the current state of our planet and all that needs to be done and changed to care for the earth and its people. What we can do is take personal responsibility and action as individuals and families in our lives, our homes and our communities. Here are some of the things our family is doing to take more responsibility for ourselves.
1. Growing an organic garden right out our back door
2. Growing some fruit producing trees in containers out our front door
3. Mulching everything possible to conserve water and encourage soil improvement
4. Use all organic and natural fertilizers and pest control
5. Buy and eat locally produced food and products from the local farmers markets
6. Engaged at a community level to share what we are doing with others
7. Share surplus with friends and neighbors
8. Re-use as much as we can by finding ingenious uses for items we might normally throw away
9. Recycle as much as possible by participating in community recycling programs
10. Reduce our consumerism by buying, selling or trading used items
11. Compost our scraps in a small compost bin and through a small worm bed
12. Raising five chickens for fresh eggs and use chicken waste for soil amendment
13. Raising rabbits to use waste as soil amendment
14. Training our children where food comes from and how to produce their own
15. Teaching our children and others to take responsibility for themselves and their family
All of these efforts are a work in progress and we are slowly making adjustments and changes in our lifestyle to do more and to be more effective in the efforts we are making. One of the things we need to change in our personal lives is our use of energy. We need to more carefully conserve the resources we do use in travel and find ways to produce some of our own energy at home. We are considering adding solar power to our home to help offset the energy we do use. Additionally, we are making efforts to walk and bike more often rather than use the car. Due to the distance required for our work, an all electric vehicle is not practical at this time but as the technology improves and as we endeavor to work closer to home this may become a possibility as well.
Another area where we need to make improvement is in our use of water in the home. As a family of four we use water often and at times without much thought. The ease of access to water by just turning on the faucet makes it very easy to waste this precious resource. Some of the things we are trying to do is to limit the length of our showers, wash only full loads, install a grey water system off of our laundry and install a rainwater catchment system on our roof. Conserving water needs to be a priority for all of us but especially those living in dry climates. In the naturally dry area of Southern California imported water greens the lawns, freeway shoulders and golf courses but the lack of water is always a concern. With recent legislation limiting the import of water from Northern California, our local communites must change the status quo of watering the landscape day and night. Drought tolerant and resistant landscapes need to be designed and installed to limit the waste of fresh water on landscaping.
Instead of restricting and discouraging residents from growing and raising their own food, local communities should encourage all residents to grow as much as they can to care for their own needs and to share with others in the community. Additionally, local governments should provide an incentive for growers to produce and sell organically raised food in their local communities instead of importing it from thousands of miles away.One idea is that this could be encouraged by some form of tax credit based on the type of food and the pounds produced. Doing so would reduce the miles traveled to bring the food to market and reduce fuel use and costs. This would allow for fresh products to be delivered within hours of production rather than travelling for days or weeks to get to market.
Our community should develop an organic composting system that would convert waste gathered from local yards, gardens, and community areas to organic compost that residents could use on their gardens and yards. Of course this would take a lot of effort to avoid introducing chemicals and insecticides by careful gathering of the organic waste and testing to make sure it is free of contaminants but it would be one step in the right direction. In order to do this in a way that would benefit the community, workshops on organic garden and lawn care would need to be available on a community level to end the use of chemical based fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. This would help to reduce the toxic inputs that make community composting efforts fail.
The focus on both an individual and community level needs to be on reducing our impact on the earth and renewing its health. In doing so we will be not only caring for the earth but for its people, plants and animals. By encouraging these efforts and many other similar efforts on a larger scale the damage that has been done and is still being done to our planet can be brought to an end and repaired before it has gone too far. Permaculture is the best method for teaching these ethics and the practical ways to apply them on an individual and community basis.
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