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The Basics of Permaculture

Incorporate the innovative framework of permaculture into your garden planning for an environmentally responsible and self-regulating approach to gardening.

| October 2019


Permaculture (as described by the magazine of the same name) is “an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living; a practical method for developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere”.

Originally derived from the term ‘permanent agriculture’ (or ‘permanent culture’), it is often associated with ways of growing crops that are more sustainable and environmentally friendly. However, as the description above suggests, it is much more holistic than that. Permaculture provides ethics and tools for creating and designing ways of life that are not only sustainable but regenerative, to repair and revitalise our damaged planet. It can apply to how we design our homes, livelihoods, communities, technologies and economies. Perma­culture provides co-operative systems which support living ethically in symbiosis with, and in steward­ship of, the earth.

These principles marry very well with those of veganism, encompassing many of the techniques for vegan organic growing that we have discussed already, such as no-dig methods, green manures, composting, mulching, companion planting and more. Permaculture has partly evolved from observing how nature functions and then developing strategies that work with nature, including systems that give maximum output for minimum input whilst producing no waste. It is increasingly clear that the livestock industry and intensive agriculture are damaging nature more than ever before, so permaculture ties in closely with our vegan ethics and vegan organic growing techniques. As nature has taken billions of years to evolve, we can learn a lot from observing and mimicking how it works with our growing strategies – such as the use of mulches, stacking plants vertically (see ­Forest Gardening later in this chapter) and stacking in time (growing a series of crops in the same space in the same year for maximum efficient use of space).

The Ethics of Permaculture

Earth care 

Living/gardening in a way that leaves no waste or damage, but regenerates the earth (for example, by using the growing techniques discussed in the previous chapter such as no-dig methods, mulching, not using chemicals)

People care 

Nurturing yourself and all other people (for example, by ensuring anything we buy does not involve slavery, child labour or other forms of exploitation).

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