living by permaculture principles

DSCF4737I love the start of a new year. I always see it as an opportunity to step back and take a look at my life. What’s working? What isn’t working? What needs to change?

Last year I wrote about my conscious living quest. I wanted to think a little more consciously about the things I was doing. Did they fit with my values? What could I change?

Over the course of the year I wrote about

I didn’t turn my life upside down, but I did find some small habits to change. I got more involved in my local community garden. I decided I didn’t want to work full time any more – this week is my first four day week and I love it already! I’ve made my own soap, washing powder and face scrub, and not bought any of those things all year.

I got both of my bicycles properly serviced (although I confess I haven’t used either of them since…). I’ve added some storage so now all the compost goes into the compost bin, and toilet roll tubes go into the recycling. And I’ve thought long and hard about where my money goes, and am trying to make sure I spend less on bills, more on adventures.

This year I want to shake up my thinking again, in a slightly different way.

DSCF4738I mentioned a few weeks ago about the permaculture design course I did in 2001. I did a bit of voluntary work for the Permaculture Association a few years ago too. Then last week I got a renewal letter for my Permaculture Association membership, and because I signed up by standing order, I got a free copy of Permaculture in a Nutshell. Then, in this month’s Country Living magazine, Tom Hodgkinson (talking about growing herbs near his kitchen door), writes

‘I have taken a leaf out of the permaculture movement’s book: instead of wasting energy trying to reform my personality, I’ve created a system that accepts my sloth…’

Permaculture keeps cropping up in my life, and it’s an idea I feel drawn to but have never been able to explain very well if anyone asks. Several things spring to mind – ‘it’s about working with nature rather than against it…’, ‘designing things well to make them easier for yourself…’. The Permaculture in a Nutshell book says

‘Permaculture is a process of looking at the whole, seeing what the connections are between the different parts, and assessing how those connections can be changed so the place can work more harmoniously.’

As an idea, it was originally conceived in terms of creating ‘edible ecosystems’ – ways of growing food that mimic a forest environment, with trees, shrubs, smaller plants all growing together, rather than acres of one crop. But it’s moved beyond just food growing now, with people applying the principles to relationships and business, among other things.

I went foraging around for a simple way of explaining permaculture, and came across David Holmgren’s list of principles. These are

‘…thinking tools, that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour…’

Rather conveniently, there are twelve principles, and here we are right at the beginning of a brand new twelve months. And so I’m going to take one of these principles each month, and use it as a way of thinking about what I do and what I have, and what I need, and what I want.

What fun! I do love a new project. And I’m hoping that over the course of the year I’ll come to understand (and be able to explain) permaculture a little better (because really sometimes the whole concept feels a little fuzzy…).

You can read more detail about the principles here or here. I’ll start at the beginning with ‘observe and interact’ soon and follow them throughout the year. You’re more than welcome to join in – I’d love it if you did. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what I’m thinking about as we’re going along!

If you fancy reading a little more, there are some free (and not free, but very good) ebooks about permaculture and all kinds of other things here. Have a rummage, see what you can find out!

What are you going to be thinking about this year? Have you ever heard of permaculture?

This entry was posted in adventures, cheerful living, conscious living, learning new things, permaculture, some things about me and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to living by permaculture principles

  1. This whole thing sounds really interesting! Might have to go and do a bit of reading around this myself…it was the bit about “making things easier” that piqued my interest!
    Welcome to the exclusive four day week club!

  2. Helena Romanowska says:

    The idea and principals behind it sound wonderful but the word ‘permaculture’ leaves me completely cold for some reason. It brings to mind a cold prefab for some reason. Good luck with it though and looking forward to hearing about how it manifests itself with you and your life.

  3. I like the ideas of permaculture as far as I understand them – but most things I’ve read on it give me the impression of some sort of ‘secret society’ which you can only be part of if you can get through the obscure and complicated language that seems to have become associated with it. It really feels quite inaccessible and closed to anyone who doesn’t have time to ‘learn the lingo’. And for that reason, I’m really looking forward to reading your posts because I know they’ll explain it and how it can actually be applied to life, in a clear and cheerful way! 🙂

  4. I know what you mean about the whole thing seeming rather waffly. I think the actual word itself isn’t helpful, and sometimes it feels maybe like it’s not distinct enough from other things to have an identity of its own almost. But still, it’ll be good to find out, it’s something that’s been milling round in my head for a long time!

  5. cherisong says:

    My first thoughts on this was that it all sounded very simple and something that I would love to be more aware of. Then I read a few of the links and did a bit of scuttling around the internet and found myself agreeing with WWC. and Helena. I really look forward to reading your posts on this. You have a way to cut through the language and explain things in simple terms. Today I have spent time observing the birds. I recently installed a new feeder and I wanted to think about how to encourage more birds. I also observed that I have a rather small mountain of plastic bottles so I am going to have a think about making some feeders in I can.

  6. Pingback: Retain, Recycle, Reuse. | On Unfurled Wings

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