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Permaculture - Catch and Store Energy

In January I wrote about the first of the 12 permaculture principles - Observe and Interact.  In that post I discussed the various ways that we can observe and interact with our environment, from keeping your own records to research on the local climate and solar path.  Observing and interacting is a continuous process of improvement.  Of course its very important at the start of a design project, but we can always look for opportunities to improve a system.

This month's principle is Catch and Store Energy.  Energy is defined very broadly in this case, encompassing both the obvious heat and electricity, and less obvious forms of energy, such as water, trees, seeds, food and soil.  This principle is important because we live in a time of energy abundance due to the availability of cheap fossil fuels and it can be very easy to forget to plan for energy catchment and storage.  We have become accustomed to buying what we need when we need it because fossil fuels have made this such an easy option.

Energy is both heat and sun energy
and less obvious things like trees
This is not to say that we should stop using fossil fuels immediately, but we must try to use them in the most efficient way to create systems that will become self-sustaining.  We should design with an expectation that fossil fuels will one day not be available so cheaply (if at all).  This will result in a more stable system that cannot be so easily disrupted by shortages.

For example, during the flood in QLD two years ago, although some people in Brisbane required food drops after two days of isolation, we did not run out of food after nearly a week (I think we would have been ok for at least a month).  This is because we had a well-stocked pantry, freezer and garden to provide for our needs.  This kind of scenario can be helpful in planning for a future without fossil fuels.  We were very lucky not to lose power at that time, and promptly purchased a petrol generator (which we have never needed in an emergency so far!), however that only lasts as long as you have petrol, so we need to think more about food storage options that do not require electricity.  We now have a campervan with solar panels, battery system and fridge, so that will help us as well.  I also try to preserve food using fermentation and drying, which can be stored outside of the fridge.

There is so much to write about on this topic, I'm going to spread it over a few posts this month:
  • Energy for free - Passive solar design
  • Living soil - Biological agriculture
  • Trees, seeds and food - Perennial vs annual plants
  • Water - Keyline Design

Comments

  1. wow wow wow. Love this blog and love what you write about. I will coming here a lot more xxx
    I have a giveaway so come and play along...xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amber, I just visited your blog too and joined. Was very pleased to see that I didn't miss out on your giveaway, I love bamboo fabric!

      Delete

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