Monday, December 9, 2013

Permaculture - creatively use and respond to change

As you know, each month this year I've been reviewing a principle from David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability.  Now I'm up to the twelth principle (phew!), creatively use and respond to change, it is somewhat ironic that Pete and I have recently made some major changes in our life!

a stream at Fox Glacier, lots of change happening there!
This principle is about anticipating and working with change, generating change for positive results and adapting to change that we can't control.

The most obvious example of the first aspect is using succession to create a productive food forest.  Using nurse plants to shelter young trees, planting productive annuals to obtain a yield early, while the perrinials grow and generally planning for how the forest will develop over time.  There is also the aspect of working with nature and not against it.  For example, we are more and more convinced that we want to develop perrenial pasture on our property rather than fight against the weeds  in a forage crop.

In terms of generating change, the first example I think of is "disturbance" created by Joel Salatin's mob-stocking, and this is something we really want to try.  Outside of farming, my recent change of job is about creating diversity in our income (so we don't both work at the same place) and resilience (which is all about the ability to cope with change).

Change that we can't control would include climate change and declining fossil fuel availability.  This is the change that we need to be able to adapt to, and I particularly liked what David wrote about patterns of traditional life being important for our ability to adapt, if we are focussed on our home and our own food production systems, a change in the availability of goods won't be such a shock.  I also think that the books of Jarrod Diamond, particularly Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, add some context about how other societies have (unfortunately) failed to adapt to change.

This is the last principle, its been hard work reading and thinking about them, but I've really enjoyed discussing them with you all.  I'll do a sum-up in January, and introduce a permaculture guest post project that I'll be running next year.  If you're interested in writing about getting started with permaculture start thinking about what you would write and I'll ask for contributions in the new year.

How do you creatively use and respond to change at your place?

The other principles from David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability that I've reviewed have been:

3 comments:

  1. Great series Liz. It has been great to hear about how you have linked each principle to your lifestyle.

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  2. Very interesting post. I think we humans have to learn that change is something to be embraced rather than resisted. I know we've spent 5 years of observing our land and seen changes that alarmed us at first. Through books like Joel Salatin's and others, we're learning that change is part of a greater process.

    In my mind, I see a 4 or 5 year rotation of our pasture/forage areas, which are always in a state of change. Pigs for tilling one year, grain crops the next, then forage and grasses for the livestock for a couple of years. By that time the pasture will need reworking again, so it would be back to pigs. This is all in the idea phase so I don't know how any of it would actually work!

    I love that you're being so proactive about this. That's something we need to be as well.

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  3. Thanks for your comments, I've really enjoyed writing these posts :)

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