[permaculture] defining permaculture

Roxann Phillips roxann at ancientearthwisdom.com
Sun Jun 24 11:31:34 EDT 2007

Well, this was once all forest but then someone came in and cleared it
all to make farmland. The trees did grow back into a oak-hickory mix. I
actually picked this place because I wanted to grow and preserve the
woodland medicinals that call this type of property home- goldenseal,
ginseng, cohosh, etc. I also wanted to grow and use plants that I
propagate for medicine. The pastures where the horses live were already
cleared. I want to maintain them. There are a lot of plants and animals
that depend on that meadow besides our horses.

How does living in a suburb, leaving the food and medicine procurement
to the industries, contribute to permaculture? We can very easily grow
all that we need right here. The horses are going to be very handy if we
decide we can no longer justify using gasoline. At that point everyone
else will also be seeking animal power and that resource will be very
expensive to purchase, I imagine. My horse brings me up the mountain or
carries things for me. His breed was originally used for carrying tax
collectors and doctors cross country comfortably (Missouri Foxtrotter).
His breed was also used for light labor around the farm. 

Someone is going to be growing the food and medicines, why can't we be
part of that? Of 160 acres, if I'm only using less than 10% of that, it
seems that I am doing a good job of "fitting in" with Nature and not
trying to rule it. Rattlesnakes are left alone in the wilderness.
Cougars and other predators have more than enough rabbits and mice to
eat in the wilderness and all around me. I expect respect from the
wildlife just as I give them respect. I do not try to eat their food and
do not expect to allow them to wipe out my entire flock overnight
because they feel it's easier than chasing a rabbit. A predator would no
more let me walk in on his kill than I would want him to take mine, and
predators in the wilderness all seem to allow each other their space.
Taking my cue from the other predators, I am fitting in, albeit in a
style more human than not, I guess. We have in abundance here bears, a
breeding pair at least of cougars, winged predators, bobcats, foxes, and
all manners of other little critters who all struggle to maintain their
own places in the ecosystems. None walk away willing to a corner to die
because they might take up more space or eat more bunnies than someone
dictates they have a right to. They all fight to live and procreate and
eat and be eaten. I try hard not to interfere with that process, and I
am in fact becoming very much a part of that process in our own space.
The horses live a much more natural life than horses in many places.
Mine range and graze from place to place and get to drink water from a
stream rather than a bucket if they so choose. Their hooves and coats
are in great condition because of the exercise they get just walking
around to eat. Only 2 horses are not taxing the plant life because of
the large area they cover and they instinctively will not overgraze one
spot when they have the option to move to a new spot now. 

My activity on this land provides many ecosystems that animals and
plants are thriving in. Why is it wrong to allow that ecosystem but
right to allow some other ecosystem that I didn't influence? Who decides
which animals and plants get the right to thrive, including the humans
involved in the ecosystem? At the man-made ponds we have, fish, frogs,
and turtles enjoy a wholesome life there. Bobcats eat the rabbits that
graze at the water's edge and deer visit the pond often. I use the water
to irrigate my garden that feeds us. I moved out some trees and grasses
that didn't work well with the garden. Nature moves out things all the
time with storms and wildfires. I clean up deadfall trees when a storm
brings them down for our firewood. We haven't had to cut a tree for
firewood since we moved here, and the trees we take out for the garden
have been used. The pastures were here already, and the horses are
thriving on the grasses provided therein. So are the quail, which
require a certain habitat that in this point in time requires help from
a human to maintain. Nature would eliminate that habitat over time, and
then perhaps it would be restored in the far future and a meadow glade
that naturally existed in places like this would be their home, IF there
were enough left to repopulate. 

I do not claim to be perfect. But I love this land, and I do feel like I
am working with it and contributing toward the survival of many species
who would otherwise die off because others would have bought it instead
of me who see more value in the timber than the woodland plants that
grow beneath them. In a utopian world, maybe no one would have ever
purchased this land and the title or deed would remain filed unclaimed,
and no one would ever live here and it could be just what nature
intended it to be, but in the meantime, I think if the trees and animals
of this 160 acres could speak, they would say that we are doing a good
job fitting in and helping along with Nature for the most part, and not
always against it. I know we are not all that important in the scheme of
things. But for the lifetime of my self and my children, we are
important enough to ourselves to try and continue to live, all the while
learning to be less destructive and more creative in how we live. On the
scale of good and bad in humanity, I do not rate myself perfect, or even
in the top 10%, but I feel far more conscious of my impact and make far
more effort to become better at it than the mainstream of society that I
interact with on a daily basis. 

Maybe it was a type one error to move here. We aren't carving space out
of a forest. We are utilizing a space already here. But every aspect of
our lives have improved since we made this move, and I do not yet regret
it at all. My goal was not to revert back to hunter-gatherer humans, and
if that is what it takes to be a permaculturist, I guess I am on the
wrong path. What I DO want is to make my surroundings a productive and
sustaining surrounding for myself, my family, and the ecosystems that
evolve where I am living. I want to create a permanent agriculture
system that will eventually support us and itself better than the
traditional large scale agriculture is doing. And I'm sure I won't do it
without making mistakes that I regret and correct, or try to correct,
later as my own consciousness evolves.

Who on this list lives in a house or area created that wasn't in some
way taken from another system somewhere? And if you live in the middle
of a city, how are you living in such a way that you do not take from
other systems somewhere? How do you pay your bills and just survive on a
day to day basis from within a heavily populated area, and how will this
system you live within continue to work when (or maybe if) the current
economy can no longer function without the oil-based industries driving
it? If you live in a city, there are equivalent "predators and pests".
How do you deal with the rats, mice, roaches, and whatever else would be
prevalent in the city if humans didn't intervene with Nature? Are they
given their space to live and carve out their own niches willingly, or
are they doing this in spite of what humans do to eliminate them? In all
systems, whether man-made or Nature-made, animals and plants will try to
find a way to make a system that works. I am striving to live in such a
manner that allows all the things that exist in my sphere, the ecosystem
where I live, a niche of their own. However, I still do not tolerate
rats under my bed, even though Nature would have them there if she had
her own way with it. They were there when we moved in the house and the
changes we made by cleaning and clearing the immediate area around the
house removed their "ecosystems" and they and the large snakes that used
to hunt them, have now retreated to a wilder part of the property. We
did have to kill some in the beginning. 

 Roxann, Kingston AR, zone 6b
http://www.AncientEarthWisdom.com - medicinal plants 
http://www.OzarkGinseng.com - organic ginseng and goldenseal
http://www.Arcadiadm.com - pastured organic poultry, vegetable CSA

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