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Permaculture on Eight Acres

Permaculture seems to be getting more popular, I'm seeing it pop on on blogs more often and its great to see people talking about it and teaching each other.  I'm still running my series of guest posts on permaculture, so if you are keen to share what you know, please get in touch eight.acres.liz at gmail.com.



In the meantime, here's a compilation of posts about permaculture from me and my guests so far:

I first wrote about permaculture in mid 2012, in which I tried to cover some basics about permaculture ethics and principles.  Permaculture is pretty hard to explain in a short post.  If you know nothing about permaculture, I think the one thing that I want you to know is this: permaculture is a way of organising things so that you get more product from less work.  Surely you want to know more now!

The best part about permaculture is that its all common-sense, you just need to do a bit of reading and thinking and suddenly you find yourself using it all the time without even realising, its not difficult, it just requires a change of mind-set.  You need to stop consuming and start producing!

In that post I included some youtube vidoes and some book suggestions to get you started.  Then I went quiet oon permaculture for a while as I did some more reading myself.

In 2013 I reviewed a principle from David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability each month. This really helped me to read the book carefully and try to understand it.  Some people don't like that book because it can be quite abstract and talks about permaculture as it relates to culture and society, rather than just gardening, but I liked that aspect.  

For more practical books, try Linda Woodrow's The Permaculture Home Garden
or Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition.

The principles that I reviewed in 2013 were:

Observe and Interact
Taking notes and records of weather patterns, vegetation, water movement etc, and making small changes (interact) and watching for the results.  This is an ongoing process, though particularly important before any major work starts.  It is a great habit to get into, and we are still a bit slack with keeping records, it is surprising how quickly you forget things too!

Catch and Store Energy
Setting up long-term storage of energy, including water and soil fertility.  This is about planning ahead and making larger investments of time/effort/money to prepare for the future.

Obtain a Yield
Producing something useful in the short-term.  Thinking about how to gain some benefit immediately so that you can keep working towards the longer term plan, especially using succession.  For example growing smaller shrubs and veges in an orchard while the fruit trees are growing to maturity.

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
Considering what we really need and what we could do differently.  This can be a gradually process of change as the possibilities for producing more and consuming less become more obvious.

Use and Value Renewable Resources
Taking advantage of all that free-energy from the sun in the form of passive solar energy and biomass.  It may take a few changes, but once you realise the benefits of free resources, you will find ways to use them!

Produce no Waste
This principle seems easy, but the challenge is NO waste, not just more recycling, this can result in some very creative thinking.

Design from Patterns to Details
Thinking about arranging your life and your property in a broader sense and then working towards the details.  I still find this principle difficult to explain.

Integrate, Rather than Segregate
Separate areas of your production can work together, for example, we harvest veges from the garden, the scraps go to the worm farm, the worm wee fertilises the garden, the worms are fed to the chickens, we eat the chicken eggs, this means we don't have to buy veges, fertiliser or eggs.  Also, our use of chicken tractors to move the chickens over the pasture means that their manure is spread out and we don't have to clean our chicken coops.

Use Small and Slow Solutions
Big and fast solutions are expensive in money and energy and can have adverse effects.  Think about using human-power and nature to slowly change things, and you are less likely to disrupt a system entirely.

Use and Value Diversity
I think this is my favourite principle!  Pete and I think about this a lot, and we try to create diversity in many areas of our life, this means planning to have many different ways to satisfy our needs as well as each different thing we do serving many purposes.  For example we produce protien on our farm in the form of beef, chicken and eggs.  And from the beef we also get tallow for soap making, hides for rugs and bones for the dogs.

Use Edges and Value the Marginal
The edges have much potential, and often the marginal is just not valued by others, but can still be useful.  Our property was on the market for 2 years before we bought it because it had too many trees, but that is something that we value.

Creatively Use and Respond to Change
Anticipating and working with change, generating change for positive results and adapting to change that we can't control.

Then in 2014 I decided to invite permaculture guest posts, as I wanted to hear from the rest of you all about your own permaculture experiences.  I know there are a lot of bloggers out there who use permaculture regularly and have much to share.  I've had some wonderful stories from the volunteers so far, so if you'd like to join in, please email me on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com.

Eight Acres: Permaculture - an invitation


Eight Acres: How I use Permaculture - with Chris from Gully Grove

Eight Acres: Permaculture - Produce no Waste - with Linda from Greenhaven

Eight Acres: Permaculture - applying the basics with Homehill Farm

Do you have anything to add?  What would you like people to know about permaculture?  Any questions?



By the way, my chicken tractor ebook is now available if you want to know more about designing and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.

Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor

Chris from Gully Grove

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  2. This is a great permaculture resource. I'm going to try and reserve your book recommendations from the library. Thanks Liz.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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