Tom: On obtaining my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) last summer, I don’t think I fully comprehended the true philosophical place permaculture may take in the world, in the context of a biosphere under threat from civilisation, and in particular the conventional agriculture on which it is based. Often I feel that this lack of comprehension is shared by many (although certainly not all) other permaculture enthusiasts, who perhaps use it as just another way of one-upmanship in “green” credentials without really grasping its origins or significance. Simultaneously, people often succeed in unconsciously emasculating it by focussing solely on its design principles, while ignoring its origins as “Permanent Agriculture”.
Patrick Whitefield, in his masterpiece of temperate-climate permaculture – ‘Earth Care Manual’ – openly acknowledges these two main branches of permaculture:
· A design framework for more thought-out and harmonious human habitations.
· The broader utilisation of increased perennial crop polycultures, often in multi-layer forest layouts, to feed people in a food system which mimics natural cycles.
I’ll mostly be ignoring the first part - the ‘design ’ aspect - in this post (I mean, does it really have to be said that planting a few nut trees in a city is going to do nothing to make that bastion of civilisation sustainable?), and focussing on the broader feeding