[permaculture] Comments on patterning in Permaculture
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Sun Oct 25 20:28:36 EDT 2009
From the archives:
Here's something Milo wrote about patterns and permaculture:
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 13:49:25 EST
To: permaculture at listserv.oit.unc.edu
Cc: bd-l at biodynamics.com
Subject: Pattern and difference
To echo Scott on the permaculture list and Bea on the biodynamics list
degree): core elements, for me, within the permaculture vision and
wisdom* are what Bateson called 'the patterns which connect" and
make a difference. (*substitute Steiner and Biodynamics freely)
Polyculturing is patterning in ways that create differences which make
differences--and doing so within manageable microcosms.
Permaculture is dynamics in systems. People outside permaculture like
Schwenk and Hans Jenny or Ralph Abraham are working within patterning
finding pragmatic links between cosmos and soil particles.
Some of the precursors in people like Rudolph Steiner, Edmund Bordeaux
Szekeley, Wilhelm Reich et al, worked earlier in time and under
conditions no longer
available. In a remarkable way, in terms of human experience on this
planet, we are
totally connected and totally alone together.
New ways of linking, such as this, may be creating the webs of relationship,
community, through which we can abandon reason as we have been taught
actualities in tune with now. I suspect permaculture is one of those
As we try to cope with conditions presenting themselves from soil
imbalances in my
back yard to firestorms in South East Asia, we are dealing with dynamic
overburdened with positive feedback, thereby increasing entropic
exponential rates. Reason, as we have been given to understand it, is
irrational and failing us.
Permaculture offers pattterns, which if explored with open mind, may
allow us to
grok differences needed which, in place, will make key differences in
survival for humankind. Permaculture, by encouraging people to take
action in place,
with awareness of universal sentience, provides essential anchors for
Crazy wisdom is in short supply. Treasure every bit that falls upon you.
For those inclined to Eastern spiritual practices and thought,
permaculture may be
understood as a grounding of bliss to find grace, one way of ending
through finding out who we are. For those who follow such paths, it is
least to me, that east and west are converging into sets of
understandings more like
parallel and converging paths.
The works which flowed through a Western mind who integrated Eastern
Anagarika Govinda, are particularly cogent in adapting and adopting
these sets. And
also, an Eastern Mind who groks Western mind, Tarthang Tulku, continues
his Time, Space and Knowledge series. A Western scientist who groks well
Abraham (see his Chaos, Gaia, Eros).
Perhaps the better path is simply to meld your being with the soil on
which you walk
(if any is available to you).
Berkeley CA USA
and from Lee Flier:
To: permaculture at listserv.oit.unc.edu
Subject: Re: edge zones
From: Lee Flier
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997
>Would anyone care to expound on the design and usage of
>edge zones and patterning in the context of permaculture
OK, I'll bite.
Yes, the patterning in design and the use of edge zones is very important in
maximizing use of resources on any site. It's a really underrated and
area of study.
"Edge zones" occur naturally at the transition point between any two
could be between air and water, water and soil, forest and field, valley
etc. The interesting thing is that the edges of anything are always
and productive compared to the interiors. For example most farmers know
yields at the edges of grain or cornfields are almost double what they
are in the
interiors! Also if you look at a pond, there is more potential
diversity of species
at the edges of ponds than in the middle.
So, in designing sites we want to maximize the amount of "edge". In the
case of the
grain fields for example, you can plant trees, (together with herbs,
shrubs, vining plants, tubers and anything else that will do well under
then run 6 foot wide swaths of grain in clearings between the trees.
you a "perpetual edge" and you will get nearly the same yield you would
have had if
you'd planted all grain, PLUS the yield from the trees and other plants.
Likewise with a pond, if you make "fingers" all around instead of a
simple round or
oval shape, you will get much more edge which will yield a lot more in
Nature itself has a tendency to arrange things into certain patterns
random to us if we aren't conscious of them, but which are often
optimized to create
edge (as with the "finger" shape which is also in an oak leaf, the
shapes of rivers, lungs, and tree branches, etc.) The shape of a
mushroom is also
prevalant; trees, bones, the flowforms of running water, and many other
on this shape. The patterns, the reasons why the patterns occur, and the
connections between them are endless but the basic ones are fairly
simple, and a lot
of aboriginal "abstract art" is really a map of these natural patterns,
a way to
pass knowledge of them down to the children. Most westerners see this
see it as purely aesthetic, not having a clue that they're looking at
of a school textbook - only a lot easier to memorize!
The idea in learning these natural patterns is that by imitating them in
designs (rather than patterning everything after the needs of
machinery, such as in straight lines and squares), we will get more out
system with less work and less use of resources because these are the
things "want" to fall into without our help. We in fact are wasting
time we try to design a system that runs counter to these patterns.
Well that's the basic idea... I'm sure others will have something to say
= Lee =
Lee A. Flier
lflier at mindspring.com
Atlanta and Ellijay, Georgia, U.S.A.
Graham Bell says: 'All patterns of occupation or behaviour have edges
and they offer a particularly rich envronment. This is because the edge of
anything is especially rich in species, supporting plants, animals and
activities from both its neighbouring areas, and also the species and
activities which only take place in that special zone.'
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