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beyond sustainabilityan introduction to permacultureben kessler
2permacultureyear 0year 1year 3photos by jonathan batesurban forest garden, holyoak, ma rural forest garden, bullock bros. farmObservation-based design of our localenvironments to meet our basic human needs(nourishing food, potable water, comfortableshelter, and supportive community) in waysthat ensure that biodiversity, natural resources,beauty, and communal and personal health arenot only sustained but actively regenerated. Bymimicking and participating in the naturalprocesses of the landscape, we can design forabundance, beauty, community, connection,health, productivity, resilience, flexibility, andjoy for ourselves and for our grandchildren aswell. Beyond sustainability, permacultureworks in the spirit of thriving.
4guiding design principles1. Everything is connected to everything else2. Every Function is supported by many Elements3. Every Element should serve many Functions4. Independence through InterdependenceElement: Any component part of a system(e.g. a watermelon, a compost bin, an orchard, aroof, a vice-president, a tool-shed, etc.)Function: What the system is designed to do(e.g. look pretty, catch & store rainwater, providehandicap accessibility, produce cabbages, etc.)panarchy :all systemsaffect allothers
yields & needsNeed: What an Element requiresto perform its FunctionsYield: What an Elementproduces as a result of itsFunctions1. Choose a familiar plant, creature, orarchitectural component(e.g. a tomato, a woodchuck, a roof, etc.)2. List everything that element produces (its Yields)3. List everything that element requires (its Needs)4. Come up with another set of elements thatcould use those Yields, and provide for thoseNeeds5. Connect the dots
combine these elements into a functional systemVegetable Garden (fig. 1)LawnBored Teenagers (fig. 2)PatioEnglish Ivy (fig. 3)GrandmothersCardboard BoxesGrape Vine (fig. 4)Public LibraryPersimmon Trees (fig. 5)SidewalkBanana Peels100 Pickle Barrels (fig. 6)ComfreySummer ThunderstormHemlock TreeFire CircleAnts (fig. 7)RhubarbCountry Music Festival(fig. 8)fig. 1fig. 2fig. 3fig. 4fig. 5fig. 6fig. 7fig. 8(
7get outsideFind a place no more than two minutes fromyour door. Go there as often as possible. Sit.Listen. Look. Take notes, but not every time.
TreesAsian PersimmonJujubeAsian PearChe(Heirloom) AppleMulberryPawpawVinesHardy KiwiMaypopMuscadine Grapeplant a tree gardenBushesBlueberryHoneyberryGojiCurrantGooseberryShrubsFigElderberryPomegranateGoumiJuneberryBush Cherrygojipawpawhardy kiwi elderberrymulberry pomegranateasian persimmon honeyberry maypop aronia chetree + bush + companion plants
guilds & polyculturesA Guild or Polyculture ismade up of a closeassociation of speciesclustered around a centralelement (usually a plant oran animal). This assemblyacts in relation to theelement to assist its health,boost yields, or bufferadverse environmentaleffects.
make a mapThings to map:Fruit TreesDeer TrailsKid TrailsWater FlowSunny AreasVacant LotsCoppice TreesIdeal Gardens
12party like its 2099Peak Oil and Climate Change are big and scary.You cannot address them alone. Get togetherwith neighbors and friends, share food, discussyour hopes and fears, and plan for communityresilience.Babysitting, Barter, Skill-Shares, Wildcrafting,Collaborative Gardening, Public Pizza Ovens,Knitting Circles, Shared Tools & Appliances,Book Clubs, Storytelling, Block Parties, Home-Schooling, Barbeques, Soccer Clubs,Intersection Repair, Potlucks, NeighborhoodYard Sales, Carpooling, Co-Counseling, HomeHerbalism, Midwifery, Shared Livestock,Neighborhood Concerts, Street Tree GleaningYou can choose to rely on people you know,love, and trust, or be forced to rely uponpeople you do not know, who do not love you,whom you probably should not trust.
host a work party1. Plan a project2. Call friends and neighbors wellin advance3. Acquire enough tools4. Buy a bunch of beer5. Cook something over a fire6. Work til the dancing starts7. Repeat seasonally
forest gardeningNo plant grows alone in the wildWe are living in uncertain timesBiodiversity = Flexibility & ResilienceFruit, Firewood, Fresh Veggies, Nuts,Building & Basketry Material, Medicine,Storage Crops, Dyes, Fibers, etc.Multi-species plantings are much moreproductive than monoculturesHealthy Ecosystems are BeautifulWe are planting the old-growth forestsof the future, today
envisioning the perfect garden1. Draw a rough sketch of your house andsurrounding land2. Take a minute to look at this place in yourminds eye. What do you love about livinghere?2. What paths (human and otherwise) crossthe land?3. What sort of trees would you like to seeevery day, and where would you put them?4. What alterations would you make to yourdwelling space? Any new constructionprojects?5. Fill in all remaining space with as much foodproduction space as you would like, excitingshrubs, Zen sand gardens, tire swings,whatever- go nuts.P.A. Yeomans Scale of Permanence(time to change/time to change back)1. Climate (Centuries/Millions ofYears)2. Land Shape (Years/Millennia)3. Water Flow & Storage(Months/Millennia)4. Roads (Months/Centuries)5. Trees (Hours/Centuries)6. Buildings (Months/Decades)7. Subdivision of Land(Days/Generations)8. Soil (Minutes/Years)