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The Principles of Permaculture

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Permaculture. It’s been a buzz word in the garden world for a while now, but what exactly does it mean? Here are the 12 principles of Permaculture.

Principles of Permaculture

Principle # 1 Observe and Interact.  Where am I? What are the forces present on my site that I needed to design for? Climate, topography, water, soil for vegetation, wildlife, wind, fire, people, these are some of the elements that are part of our observations.

Principle # 2 Catch and Store Energy. Energy is not just electricity. Stored water represents potential energy in a form of irrigation water for future crops. The biomass of a forest represents a living storage of building materials, fuel, nutrients and water.

Alternative energy systems can turn wind, sun and flowing water into electrical energy. So this principle gives us the directive to capture and grow surplasses in our system.

Principle # 3 Obtain a Yield. This principle promotes self-reliance and gives us the directive to reap a harvest from the permaculture system. Because you can’t work in an empty stomach. This principle is relevant in making a choice of which tree to plant and location or we choose the one with greater more diversity yield over an ornamental plant.

Yields are not just food. Yields can be building materials, fuel wood, nectar for honey, but plenty of food growing all around you is true security.

Principle # 4   Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback. This principle directs us to live simply. Limit our own consumption because no one else is going to do that for us. We need to keep our own consumption and emissions in check because that is our responsibility when we care for earth and we care for people. Accepting feedback means learning our successes and mistakes is an imperative and should lead to better choices as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

Principle # 5 Use & Value Renewable Resources and Services. Renewable resources are those that replenish with modest use. This could be sustainable forestry or fishing practices. This could mean planting an orchard down slope of a forest to take advantage of nutrients in water drip that continually moves down the hill.

This is the wind, this is the fact that plants and animal breathe and if we’re responsible and careful, many of these resources can provide in perpetuity.

Principle # 6 Produce No Waste. This is where we make the waste of one part of our system a food for another. This means we compost, clean and recycle grey water, repair and repurpose broken tools and equipment. Reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle. This also means we don’t waste people by having them to hazard ways and meaningless work.

Principle # 7 Design from Patters to Details. It means, first we study the climate, topography, watershed, ecology and we get big picture of vision of how can we interact with the land and community and regenerative way. And then, our design decisions are based on that.

Principle # 8  Integrate Rather than Segregate. This principle says that the more relationships between part of your systems, the stronger or productive or more resilient your system becomes. This has to do with community as well. A cluster of dwellings where cooperative  community can get much more done than individual. Many hands make light work.

Principle # 9 Use Small & Slow Solutions. Focus on establishing plants and systems that take time to set up and produce up front, but will produce massive yields later on. For example, fruit and nut tree trees take a long time to start producing, but once they do, they produce abundant harvests year after year with little to no input.

Principle # 10  Use and Value diversity. Diversity is one of the key aspects ofpermaculture. We want to conserve diverse habitat and make human habitat rich with many abundance of productive element. Diversity is also resilience. If one part of our system fails, there are others that will thrive.

Principle # 11 Use Edges and Value the Marginal. The edges and margins are great locations to add productive species or habitat zones. Utilize as much of the space on your property as you can. The edges of your property are great for planting fruit-producing shrubs and bramble or trees for harvesting wood. Don’t neglect or overlook the far corners of your property.

Principle # 12  Creatively Use and Respond to Change. Climate and geography can change. Our climate is currently changing on a massive scale, and this can affect small-scale changes on our properties. Or perhaps a system you set up has some unintended consequences, like maybe certain trees you planted have made the nearby soil more acidic. Find a way to adapt to the changes instead of fight them. Grow things that thrive in your new environments. Start at square one again. Observe and then design. Always work with nature, never against her.

Watch the best explanation and illustration of the permaculture principle below:

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