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Sustainable Living, Practical Learning

Sustainable Living, Practical LearningPermaculture - Key Concepts

Permaculture Defined
Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.

Food Forests and Guilds
Food Forest mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships between plants and animals found in a natural forest or other natural ecosystem. Food forests are not ‘natural’, but are designed and managed ecosystems (typically complex perennial polyculture plantings) that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity. example
Guild is a combination of plants, animals, insects and fungi. Guilds can be found in nature, in healthy ecosystems, or they can be designed and planted to make your food forest, garden, pasture or woodlot healthier and more productive. Each guild participant contributes something valuable to the entire composition. For majority of permaculture students, guilds pose a lot of mysticism and seem very difficult to understand. A good way to start learning about guilds, is to begin by composing something very simple - like one planter around a fruit tree and observe how thing are interacting. example

Poultry and Backyard Animals
Animals (including birds and wildlife) are a critical component of any sustainable system, as without their participation and contribution the ecological balance cannot be achieved. Everything gardens in permaculture, and animals are in the leadership position. Manure is needed for soil fertility. Foraging on fallen fruit, weeds, seeds and garden pests helps with keeping things healthy. Soil cultivation is frequently a benefit, especially when keeping chickens.

Rainwater Harvesting
In permaculture we strive to design buildings and landscapes to absorb rainwater. This is not only a good idea for dry climates, but is also very important in places with plentiful moisture. Why? Rainwater is best used when it is allowed to infiltrate the soil. There it is available to plants, it is cleansed and enters the groundwater or returns to the hydrological cycle. Rainwater harvesting is an alternative to designing our outdoor environments to get rid of water - where it rushes down hillsides, streets or roadways. This is how soil erosion begins and pollutants get washed into waterways. In some circles, there is a distinction between rainwater harvesting (meaning direction rainwater and runoff towards planted areas for infiltration); and rainwater catchment where water is actually captured from roofs or other hard surfaces and is stored in cisterns. The former is simpler and less costly, the latter allows you to have access to water during dry spells, but may be more expensive.
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