When considering the importance of setting businesses in a social context we should also set business in a world perspective. Permaculture offers a structure to do just that. Leading exponent Ludwig Appeltans tells us why.
Humanity is on the verge of a major reorganization. I know this is a mild way of expressing it. I don’t want to put you off reading further by scaring you too much, but the fact is that humanity is facing quite a number of crises all at once. Each one of these crises on their own is bad enough to cause major problems to our well being. Some threaten our health, others threaten the survival of our species as a whole.
I won’t elaborate as most of us are well aware of the issues at hand. I want to focus on the solution.
Let me just elaborate on one issue: our dependency on fossil fuel for our food.
Only 1/3th of our food is produced in the UK. The rest gets trucked in, flown in or shipped in, sometimes from the other side of the world, using huge amounts of fossil fuels. The food production in the UK is also dependent on fossil fuel in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fuels for the heavy machinery, the heating systems for greenhouses and for the fuel to run meat factories. Fossil fuels are also used in the trucks to transport the ingredients and the finished products around the world and eventually into the supermarket where we drive to pick up our food. That does not take into account the energy we use to keep it fresh, for cooking and the energy used to deal with the waste.
Statistics tells us that for one calorie of food we burn ten calories of fossil fuel. Even organic farming is hugely dependent on fossil fuels but at least this is a small step in the right direction.
Whatever way you look at it, from start to finish, our supermarket food is dripping in oil. Any time of any day something could happen that causes the volatile market price of oil to wobble and then the supermarkets will grind to a halt. How quickly under these circumstances will the supermarkets be empty?
Add to this picture the pressure on the price of oil increases every week. Much less oil gets discovered than gets consumed and we have a mixture that will result in a serious problems. The question is not if, but when. Please don’t panic because there is a solution for ALL the problems mentioned above and many more: PERMACULTURE design
In short Permaculture Design is a conscious way of designing a living that makes our civilisation permanently possible, as opposed to our current way of living that is leading us towards disaster.
The benefits of permaculture are:
- in minimizing the need for labour and energy input, by designing work out of the system and by mimicking and learning from the most efficient plant growing system there is on our planet: Nature. Permaculture reduces labour even further by choosing perennials and self-seeding annuals instead of the annual crops that now form 95% of our diet.
- making maximum use of space by growing plants in up to seven layers. (stacking).
- by eliminating the need for insecticides by creating a self regulating ecosystem that deals with pests, by choosing plants that attract natural predators to control pests and by having lots of different species present. By working with polycultures instead of monocultures the risk of pests and diseases is further reduced, making our food supply more resilient to unexpected weather.
- by eliminating the need for chemicals and fossil fuel based fertilizers, by growing nitrogen fixing plants, by attracting birds, by growing dynamic accumulator plants and the best composting plants and by refining composting techniques.
- by eliminating the need for weed killers and limits the need for laborious weeding by using mulch, ground covers, allelopathic plants and green manures.
- by increasing the beauty of the garden by allowing birds, insects and amphibians to play their essential role of pest control, fertilization and spreading seeds.
- by reducing the need to drain land which destroys a naturally wet habitat. Shady and wet places that are deemed unsuitable in conventional farming techniques can actually produce successful crops.
- by creating diversity in the production there is fresh food in the garden all year round and increases the food security in a changing climate.
- brings our carbon footprint within sustainable levels as it minimises and eventually will eliminate the need for fossil fuels. Permaculture enables us to turn our ecological impact from a negative into a positive.
- helps the well-being of people by reconnecting them to nature and to their food thereby improving their mental and physical health.
- helps to make the community as a whole more resilient by encouraging cooperation and connection.
- by enabling people to become part of the solution, no longer part of the problem. Permaculture gives us the tools to improve the quality of our lives, our community, our society and our ecosystem.
Permaculture is a revolutionary way to use our energy and resources to create beautiful, sustainable, life-giving systems. Permaculture is the only viable food production system for an unpredictable future. Permaculture helps us to increase yields, stop and clean up pollution, reduce energy consumption and allows us to sustain our planet. It allows us to thrive in abundance.
Sounds to good to be true? Does permaculture actually work?
Yes it does! There are thousands of examples of permaculture in action, mostly in poorer countries where necessity forces for change. Gardeners are applying permaculture in their gardens all over the world and communities are using the tools to create community gardens, regenerate land, develop wetlands and to treat waste water … the list is endless.
The most obvious and widespread example of permaculture on a large scale is Cuba. After the boycott by the USA, the Cubans embraced permaculture on a national scale. They are now not only feeding themselves, but are healthier and happier than ever before.
You can find out more about Permaculture here
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