“Permaculture” by definition is a set of tenants and design principals. More practically speaking, it’s tool belt of agricultural techniques. In practice, its a bunch of hippies and fags, most of which who have never grown anything in their life and almost none of which have ever managed a plot larger than a backyard tomato garden who nevertheless enjoy spit balling newer, better, less energy intensive, more sustainable ways to feed people from the safety of their keyboard. The tenants are so general that even the practitioners cant seem to agree on what is “real” Permaculture. Before we can even discuss what constitutes “practical Permaculture”, we are going to have to come up with some practical tenants.
The core principals of Permaculture are childishly optimistic: Care of the earth, care of the people and return of surplus. Well, hot damn! Sign me right the fuck up! But seriously, just the first two core principals pretty much solve all of the worlds problems. Almost makes you wonder why it hasn’t caught on, doesnt it? Throughout the years, there have been countless political, religious and other movements trying to accomplish these or similar goals; it’s the “how to” Mankind hasn’t quite figured out and the Permie Fags (PF’s) haven’t discovered the Holy Grail either. As a matter of fact, after 40+ years, Permaculture hasn’t made much progress in anything other than giving all-natural, green boners to middle aged douchebags who pull themselves off to fantasies of zero input abundance without ever getting off their computer .
If not this Polyanna-esque bullshit, then what should we strive for? Before we go trying to fix ALL the worlds problems, lets start with baby steps. How does “perma” (permanant) “culture” (agriculture) sound to you? While not everyone agrees on what sustainable agriculture might look like, progress in this area would go a long way towards addressing the other core tenants and maybe some difficulties in your own life as well.
“Sustainability” goes much further than not spraying ‘cides and foregoing GMO’s. Sustainability means that you can keep doing what you are doing indefinitely. I’d like to add a seemingly obvious but clearly overlooked tenant here: does it feed people? If you’re garden is only 10X10 because you cant get enough grass clippings and leaves to Ruth Stout a bigger garden, then it isn’t going to sustain anyone. If you spend more money on compost and fertilizer to create/maintain those raised beds than you would have spent buying your produce at the store then you dun’ fucked up. If you can look me in the eye and say “I, my children and my grandchildren’s children could feed a family of 4 doing things the way i’m doing them even if the rest of world went to shit” then you might be on the right track. The Chinese have been working the same fields for 4,000 plus years and they are still productive. What would your plot look like after 4,000 years using your methods? Saline, acidic soil from irresponsible use of chemical fertilizer effectively has the same result as soil that is exhausted because making and applying heavy loads of compost goes against your “Do Nothing Farming” horse shit: people aren’t being “sustained”.
My idea of “Practical permaculture” sticks to something we can reasonably expect to accomplish: sustainability. Rather than formulating ideas about ending racial tension by making lasagna beds together, lets make some real change, albeit on a smaller scale. Put down the keyboard, pick up a spade and get your hands dirty.
Let it never be said that ol’ Rocky doesn’t give em’ a chance to speak up for themselves. The forums at permies.com are a great place to learn and ask about permaculture from someone who isnt such a disenchanted, pessimistic asshole as myself.