Well, maybe you’re not so sure about being one yet. But, once you read about how we’re getting folks to be one, you may decide you’d like to, too! And, oh my goodness, what if you’re already one of those and don’t even know it? Let’s see…
What is permaculture? The philosophy was developed in the 1970’s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. And, since then, so many folks have talked about it and defined it — a lot of them very well. Some people say permanent agriculture and others say permanent culture. Our take is decidedly grounded in how we can bring the philosophy to low-income residents and make it real and doable.
Our single sentence description: It’s about observing lessons in nature and copying them. And it does not have to be a drag.
This observation and learning means cooperating with nature and developing a relationship between humans, animals, plants and the built environment. Each provides for its own needs while serving the other. If one part changes, the rest are resilient enough to go on. It’s like the tickbird on the zebra, or the orchid on the kapok tree, or…well, you get the idea. Really, if you think about it, why NOT copy nature? Nature takes care of itself. It doesn’t weed, it doesn’t buy pesticides, it doesn’t haul stuff off to the dump. And, if left to its own devices, it does it over and over again very well. It self-maintains and is sustainable.
How are we advancing permaculture? There are plenty of advanced systems that have been put in place to practice permaculture. Sometimes they involve harnessing solar power, integrating run-off systems, capturing major waste. There are smaller systems where certain food plants are grown on a particular side of the house and then sop up water to prevent run off. A lot of our work focuses on enhancing and encouraging the things residents already do. Bartering for and sharing skills, services, food and tools. But it’s also new activities that create the permanent culture/agriculture that sustains their communities. It’s advocating for more green affordable housing. It’s waste recycling, reusing their stuff, and reducing use of toxic chemicals. It’s taking vacant land, making a community garden and growing their own food. It’s shopping for local food and eating at places that buy local food – becoming a locavore.
Ahh, so what is a locavore?
It may sound like something in a sci-fi film, but it’s really just any of us who choose to eat food grown locally or that has traveled fewer “food miles.” Food miles are measured in distance from field to fork. Your non-local meal may have traveled from 4 or 5 different countries and used up a lot of fossil fuels. As we’ve written before, the most sustainable (and often healthy) choices are found in locally grown food.
How are we advancing locavorism? Well, what we’re not doing is rigidly proclaiming “no more bananas in Iowa!” But, we are suggesting that everyone make more local choices when they can. And, we’re talking about how one person doing it can improve others’ lives. We promote sharing, resilience, and copying – copying nature, that is.
If you aren’t already, we bet now a lot of you are running out to be permaculturist locavores. Whatever you do, start where you are.