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describe permaculture in a sentence or two  RSS feed

 
Peter Fishlock
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Hello everyone, I thought i would post this for some fun.

Im sure all of you have been asked about Permaculture before and not known where to start or even how to describe it without a huge explanation.

What I think would be cool if between us we could come up with a sentence or a few sentences that:

1 describe Permaculture
2 make it sound cool
3 make people interested in giving it a go

post below


Pete
 
Jordan Lowery
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i like to tell people its farming with style. but what really gets people going is just seeing my forest garden. after that they are hooked.
 
nancy sutton
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I usually sum it up as "Edible Landscaping crossed with Biomimicry, brilliantly designed for optimum efficiency" - for those who have never heard of it - the book titles may be familiar, at least. The sustainable, regenerative, minimal work & input, etc. aspects can be filled in along with the details.

For a 'soundbite that sells' teaser.. hmmm .... how about "The plant-once (and) harvest-forever system" (a slight oversimplification ;) or "Let Mother (Nature) do the work"... or "Mom can do it better" .... or... "Want culture? - get hugel and poly!" .... ?
 
Isaac Hill
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Holistic design system where diversity, multi-functionality and mutually beneficial relationships are emphasized, rooted in the mimicry of natural cycles and systems.
 
Peter Fishlock
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hubert cumberdale wrote:i like to tell people its farming with style. but what really gets people going is just seeing my forest garden. after that they are hooked.


Farming with style is good but I dont have the forest garden to back it up, Hey Hubert would you do a video of your forest garden and post it as a walk through on here, I would really love to see that , I want a forest garden but have no space, you could describe the plants you have ands there functions, for us noobs.

Nancy --- "Edible Landscaping crossed with Biomimicry, brilliantly designed for optimum efficiency" is nothing short of genius well done for that I will remember that one.

Isaac-- Holistic design system where diversity, multi-functionality and mutually beneficial relationships are emphasized, rooted in the mimicry of natural cycles and systems. I really like this its short and precise and accurately describes what is needed but I think if it was aimed at a sceptic or someone who had

never heard of it before it mind sound a bit flowery. hey I had an idea.

The conversation sparks up and someone asks what you are doing.

You could say, "Edible landscaping crossed with biomimicry, designed for optimum efficiency" (hook)
they say say "that sounds interesting, how does that work?"
you say "We us a Holistic design system where diversity, multi-functionality and mutually beneficial relationships are emphasized, rooted in the mimicry of natural cycles and systems. (ready Hubert) Its like farming with style!!"

"step into my forest garden and be assimilated resistance is futile" he he he he



 
John Polk
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"By designing the system as close to nature's natural path as we can, Mother Nature will do most of our work."

"The more we deviate from the natural path, the less will be our rewards."

"Permaculture depends more on nature than what we buy."

"By bringing in less outside inputs, we allow the natural system to function optimally within the environment."


"
 
paul wheaton
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Here are two I've tried on for size lately:

1) A more symbiotic relationship with nature so I can be even lazier.

2) Suppose a field of corn sounds like dial tone and an untouched field sounds like white noise. Then I think that God wants me to create symphonies in seed and soil - THAT is permaculture.

 
Tyler Ludens
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A design system for human habitation in concert with nature which is based upon a set of ethics.
 
John Polk
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Adam was created to practice the world's oldest profession: Gardening.
He had no plow, nor pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, yet Eden turned out great.

Perhaps the single flaw with Eden was too many (tempting) apples.
 
nancy sutton
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Hmmm... the Garden of Eden... interesting picture. Perfect human-nature('divine') cooperation, which went, of course, awry....due to the usual suspect?..... human greed? More, more, more... control (instead of more and more happiness :) And, interesting that the result was Adam condemned to doing it the unnatural hard way, by the sweat of his brow. There's something in here about the heart of Pc.....maybe, cooperation ... vs competition?

Maybe, "Permaculture is 'doing it nature's way' - so we don't get kicked out of Eden ... again!"
(I know there's crooked logic there, but I like the 'picture' that it paints :)
 
Morgan Morrigan
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"Edible Landscaping with a local flavor"
 
Ken Peavey
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Permaculture is a way of thinking, a way of doing, a way of growing, and a way of life.
 
Tony Elswick
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depends on the topic of conversation really

Economic
1)I always have seen permaculture as the practice of Austrian economics. Permaculture production is the optimal human action response to inflated prices, ushering in a cost efficient mechanism to bring all markets to equilibrium.
Scientific
2)Permaculture is a biotrophic effect from adding a human function to mycorhizzal symbiosis for purposes of fostering diverse elements of soil life.
Philosophic
3)As above, so below, along the edge we will know.
 
Lawrence London
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You can probably extract a few good sentences from this:

Definitions of Permaculture
=================

Wikipedia permaculture entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture
"Permaculture is a design system which aims to create sustainable
human habitats by following nature's patterns."

Phil Ferraro, Director
Institute for Bioregional Studies
writes about Permaculture:
"The term, permaculture, was patented by, Bill Mollison in
the early 1970's to describe a system of permanent habitations.
With roots in agricultural systems it has evolved into a program
for designing ecological communities and restoring urban centers.
It is about self-reliance, growing food, and building creative,
beautiful, energy-efficient structures from local materials.
Some precepts basic to both permaculture and bioregionalism:
*Basis in ecology.
*Basing unique culture on indigenous materials
*High degree of local self-sufficiency.
*Observation/awareness of boundaries of plant and animal
communities.
*Preservation and restoration of native plant communities.
*Aesthetics
*Worker-owned, enterprises with non-exploitative relationships.
*Decentralized, participatory, democratic governance.
*Recognizing inter-relationships between elements in the system
and maximizing symbiotic relationships.
[Features]
*Permaculture methodlogy
*Permaculture principles
*Ethic of permaculture
*Observation Skills
*Bioregional planning & mapping
*Local self-reliance
*Site analysis
*Tree crops
*Medicinal herbs
*Organic Agriculture
*Agroforestry systems
*Edibile landscaping
*Keyline system
*Land Trusts & Communities
*Aquaculture
*Greenhouses
*Erosion Control
*Soil microbiology
*Sustainable Forestry
*Ecosystem restoration
*Livestock and wildlife
*Urban permaculture
*Appropriate energy
*Working in the South
*Formal & Informal Economies
*Straw-bale construction"

Chuck Estin of Bios Designs
http://biosdesign.us/
writes about permculture in his website:
"BIOS is Greek for LIFE. As human designers we can look to the life forms in Nature for guidance
in creating sustainable systems. Life forms are by definition sustainable, or they wouldn’t exist."
"Permaculture is a way to create healthy communities of people, plants and animals. Permaculture
uses principles of Nature to empower people to connect to the ecosystem in which they live.
It has many disciplines and skill-sets; Efficient agriculture, agro-forestry, aquaculture, natural building,
solar technology, education, alternative economics, and more."

Dr. Lee Barnes
Editor of:
The Permaculture Connections: Southeastern Permaculture Network News
Waynesville, N.C., 28786
8 page Quarterly
Writes about permaculture:

Permaculture ("Perm"anent "agri"culture and "Perma"nent "culture")
is a sustainable design system stressing the harmonious
interrelationship of humans, plants, animals and the Earth.

To paraphrase the founder of Permaculture, designer Bill Mollison:

"Permaculture principles focus on thoughtful designs for small-scale
intensive systems which are labor efficient and which use biological
resources instead of fossil fuels. Designs stress ecological connections
and closed energy and material loops. The core of permaculture is design
and the working relationships and connections between all things. Each
component in a system performs multiple functions, and each function is
supported by many elements. Key to efficient design is observation and
replication of natural ecosystems, where designers maximize diversity
with polycultures, stress efficient energy planning for houses and
settlement, using and accelerating natural plant succession, and
increasing the highly productive "edge-zones" within the system."

Permaculture designs have been successfully and widely implemented
in third-world countries, but there is current need to expand these
principles in temperate climates, and especially urban areas to
create more enjoyable and sustainable human habitats.

PermaSphere
-- portal to an expanding global network of landtech pioneers --

ecolandtech: designing ecological land use systems with integrated elements for synergy, sustainability,
regeneration and enhanced nature-compatible human habitat
 
Lawrence London
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Permaculture is a whole new way of looking at the Earth, your relationship with it and how you will survive on it.
It comprises an aggregate of disciplines from the sciences, technology, global indigenous knowledge and global lowtech earth skills.
 
Rusty Bowman
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"Permaculturists do it with sustainability"

Someone from another board gave me the idea a few yrs back when asking for ideas on bumper stickers. Juvenile, maybe...but, I thought it was clever!
 
mike mclellan
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This is not original but I liked it when I heard on Will Hooker's permaculture NCSU videocast: "Permaculture is revolution disguised as gardening."
 
Travis Halverson
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"Hippy Farming" is one I heard today.

Might not be accurate, but if your spending a few minutes describing permaculture to someone that is gonna think "hippy farming" at the end anyway. Why waste the time on them.

 
Peter Fishlock
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mike mclellan wrote:This is not original but I liked it when I heard on Will Hooker's permaculture NCSU videocast: "Permaculture is revolution disguised as gardening."


this is absolute genius
 
Craig Dobbson
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To me Permaculture is: Doing the most lasting good with the least amount of energy input so that I can enjoy the maximum amount of my short time as part of the conscious world, while providing the following generation the exact same opportunity.
 
Brad Davies
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I like "Productive ecological design."

or

"Designer ecology"

or

(In responce to "What is permaculture?")

"Permaculture is the way that we inhabit this planet indeffinately" Stole that from something of geoff lawton's.
 
Travis Halverson
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Quote from a podcast with Paul Wheaton.

"Systems feeding systems, feeding systems."

P.S. I dig the new logo.

Wait. It keeps changing if I "refresh".

Of the three I've seen, I'd wear a patch of the permies.com with the sickle for the "c".
 
Cliff Martin
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I listened to the interview with Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine, and I perceive that permaculture has two streams of direction. The first stream, which seems to have the edge on this forum (or at least with Paul Wheaton), is the "individualistic stream." The second stream, which seems to have the edge with Permaculture Magazine (or at least Maddy Harland), is the "socializing stream." My heart lies with the individualistic stream because I believe this stream better represents the intent of permaculture.

What is this intent? Permaculture is the craft of rewilding the individual, the society, and the environment.

Certainly, permaculture design is an important part of this. But isn't the underlying reason for all the design work to approximate the infinite functional interrelatedness of a pristine wilderness setting? In fact, isn't the idea to "design" an environment in which the human design is less and less apparent and the wilderness processes more and more active, albeit “enhanced”? I like the idea of permaculture making the human element a part of the wilderness system, rather than the wilderness system made a part of the human system.

Some may say it's a matter of the individual, but from my perspective, permaculture becomes lost to human industry without the absolute, though abstract, model of "wilderness." "Nature," as some have previously noted, is another term for this. But just like the term "natural" applied to grocery-bought foods, it can mean anything. "Wilderness" emphasizes the idea of "wild," which involves a deeper idea of the design mystery behind the organization of the nonhuman world. It is the (negative) impact of humans on the environment which necessitates permaculture in the first place. The wilderness doesn't need humans; humans need the wilderness. Just my thoughts on the matter.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Cliff Martin wrote: The wilderness doesn't need humans; humans need the wilderness.


If humans are a significant apex predator in an ecosystem, as they were in the North American Prairie ecosystem, then wilderness does need humans, in my opinion. It needs them functioning in their ecological niche, just as it needs wolves, bears, cougars, tigers, lions, etc etc. Humans are a part of nature, in my opinion, just as other animal species are.
 
Cliff Martin
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If by "apex" you mean humans have a unique or irreplaceable role in nature, I can certainly understand that perspective. In my opinion, the wilderness is bigger than any species and hence can absorb extinctions (as it does now).
 
Nick Garbarino
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Permaculture is the intersection of environmentalism and agriculture.

That gets them scratching their heads. You mean hippies and rednecks hanging out together? Yep, that's right.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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My favorite quote and definition is from Bill Molllison:

"The aim is to create systems that are ecologically-sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term."

"Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system for city and country, using the smallest practical area."
 
Tyler Ludens
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Cliff Martin wrote:If by "apex" you mean humans have a unique or irreplaceable role in nature, I can certainly understand that perspective. In my opinion, the wilderness is bigger than any species and hence can absorb extinctions (as it does now).


Nature seems resilient and individual species certainly seem "replaceable" in the big scheme of things. So yes, in that sense, wilderness doesn't need humans or any other individual specie, or, any species at all perhaps, if by "wilderness" we mean "nature." Nature doesn't have the capacity to need anything, probably, though specific ecosystems may need specific species in order to function. For instance the North American Prairie ecosystem, having been formed by the action of humans and bison, does not exist in the absence of humans and bison behaving in the manner which caused the Prairie ecosystem to exist. That particular "wilderness" is gone.
 
Nick Garbarino
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Homo sapiens is the only species with the potential to protect the earth from a mass extinction meteor impact. Therefore, we have a responsibility to all living things to prevent our own extinction. We can only do that by learning to live in harmony with all living things.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Nick, you seem to be saying that all life has some intrinsic value. I'm not debating that, just trying to clarify some ideas. If Homo sapiens has the responsibility to preserve life by preventing the extinction of Homo sapiens, that must mean life has intrinsic value separate from its value to Homo sapiens. After all, if Homo sapiens goes extinct, we won't miss all the other species which would go extinct because we aren't there to save them from a meteor.....If we have the responsiblity to preserve life from mass extinction by meteor, do we also have the responsibility to preserve life from the current mass extinction caused by human activity?

The "humans have a responsibility to preserve life on Earth from extinction by meteor" is a position I had not seen articulated before, so thank you for a new thought.

This is just making me think. It's hard, but I'm trying. In previous meteor extinction events, all life was not extinguished, so the position "humans have a responsibility to save life from meteor" implies that specific existing forms of life have intrinsic value, that some or all species actually aren't replaceable (in other words, they are irreplaceable).....Do we have the responsibility to preserve specific species from extinction not by meteor? For instance tigers going extinct though human activity, do we have a responsibility to preserve them from extinction through human activity, or only a responsibility to preserve them from extinction by meteor?

If humans are responsible for preserving life on Earth, whether specific existing forms of life (for instance tigers) or life itself, then we should be behaving much differently.
 
Nick Garbarino
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You're welcome Tyler. I have not seen this articulated before either. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands, but anyway I can try to share some more thoughts for what it's worth.

If we humans cause our own extinction by degrading the living systems that support us, life would go on and perhaps other more intelligent life forms could eventually evolve. They might be more intelligent because they understand that the earth's living systems should be treated as our partner rather than something we can exploit until it is exhausted, leading to our own demise. The native people of the Americas apparently understood this, while the Europeans did not. Permaculture was being practiced by those new world people, which means they were much more advanced than the Europeans at least in the field of agriculture but as we know permaculture is about more than just agriculture. Now that way of life is making a comeback (go permies!), but there is a long way to go and only time will tell if it will be enough, soon enough to turn the tide of environmental destruction.

If we, or any life has intrinsic value, then all life has intrinsic value because all living things on our planet came from the same spark. Charles Darwin first articulated this and DNA research has confirmed it. We are all part of the same thing, and it has not been discovered anywhere else in the universe, and maybe never will because even if it exists out there somewhere, it may be too far away to ever be found or communicated with. Rocks and dirt and water molecules and oxygen atoms cannot have a conversation like this, so yes life is indeed very special. We evolved only very recently, while our living predecessors have been around for at least half a billion years before us. We are one of evolution's latest experiments. All life forms eventually go extinct, but we are the first life form to understand that. We consider ourselves the most highly intelligent life form, but are we really? True intelligence means we have the ability to stop and reconsider what our genes are telling us to do, and maybe do something else instead that makes more sense than temporarily exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet by using unsustainable tricks.

Personally, I consider tigers and other endangered species of plants and animals to be amazing works of art far exceeding anything ever created by a human being, and driving them to extinction would be much worse than burning all the worlds greatest art. It's difficult to imagine future generations not being able to see a tiger in real life, because they're all gone, lost forever. If tigers go, that means ecosystems cannot function properly and the important services that those ecosystems provide for us will not be forthcoming. I agree with you Tyler that as a whole the human species should be behaving much differently.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you for those thoughts, Nick. Species such as tigers appear to not have only esthetic value, but actual function in an ecosystem and are especially important to humans as indicators of the proper functioning of ecosystems. As you point out, if they go, that means ecosystems can't function properly and will no longer be able to support humans. Not all species may be these "keystone" species, and some keystone species are not charismatic like tigers, but very small and misunderstood such as bats or unusually desirable to humans for consumption, such as salmon. If we don't understand ecosystems as they exist and change through our activity, how can we hope as permaculturists to create emulations of ecosystems in our own work. If we don't understand things like keystone species and that they are not replaceable, how can we strive to preserve and support what remains. A definition of permaculture may include an understanding of ecosystems, especially our own local and regional ecosystems.
 
Varina Lakewood
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Well, I suppose my idea of front flowerbeds sort of counts as permaculture:

I tell people that I want to plant it and be able to walk away and have it look beautiful. Maybe weed once or twice a year, and water four or five times a year.

<laugh>Considering that late spring through early fall temps tend into the nineties with little moisture interspersed, we get amazing allergies and seasonal winds that keep people inside by preference, working the soil and keeping down weeds is no picnic even in early spring and late fall, and I live in the middle of a thriving city, this statement generally meets with profound approval.
Or maybe they just think flowers are an improvement over bindweed and quackgrass choking out what little lawn grass was in that area before. lol

Edit: What I don't tell them is that I'm trying to put in more natives than non-natives, and I'd like for them to be able to support some of the rarer pollinators or endangered ones. The already existing front flowerbed (not the same one I'm putting in now) already more or less does this, though it is a shameless mix of native (or possibly naturalized non-natives) and non-natives. The catmint swarms with bees, and fritilllary butterflies flit along the length of the bed. Which, unfortunately does require regular watering, since it is mostly under a large overhang, in order to keep the potted herbs, the roses, peonies, and flowerbox from withering up and dying. I think the catmint and violets wouldn't really care, nor would the lavender, which is valiently struggling out from under the catmint.
While the bed I am currently putting in won't be nearly as large, and will require care for a year or two, I am aiming for visually stunning and no need to water after that. The carnations, succulents, peony-like poppies, lilac, yellow bush (can't remember the name), violets, crocus, grape hyacinth, nodding onion, and golden alyssum all fit this criteria. There are some self-seeding annuals in there, too, though they may get crowded out over time. My main hangup is the birches, which require more water. However, I may try building a mini swale or some such to help with that and see if it succeeds. Last year's birches...parched repeatedly, and then succumbed to powdery mildew of all things. Explaining out all the details makes everyone's eyes glaze over, but "I want to plant it and be able to walk away." never does. In fact, its more likely to bring compliments on how much they like what I've done so far, which is...not much at all. <laugh>
 
Frolf Lundgren
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I wouldn't use any of the above to describe permaculture to those unfamiliar with the practice. Most sound nerdy and pretentious, like you're trying way too hard to impress. Simply use words like organic, sustainable, healthy. If you want to go further you could push the ideas of restoration, working with nature rather than against her. Edible garden also piques varying areas of interest.
 
David Good
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Tony Elswick wrote:depends on the topic of conversation really

Economic
1)I always have seen permaculture as the practice of Austrian economics. Permaculture production is the optimal human action response to inflated prices, ushering in a cost efficient mechanism to bring all markets to equilibrium.
Scientific
2)Permaculture is a biotrophic effect from adding a human function to mycorhizzal symbiosis for purposes of fostering diverse elements of soil life.
Philosophic
3)As above, so below, along the edge we will know.


Bonus points for mentioning Austrian Economics!

Of course - after mentioning it to describe permaculture, you'd then have to back up and describe AE, too.

I can imaging Rothbard digging the productive anarchy of a food forest.
 
Rick Larson
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"A method on continually building the soil while providing sustenance".
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I try to speak with images!
And I relate to what people will know.

I usually say for a start that it comes from "permanent culture", and that culture is more than cultivating.
Then I say that when you apply it to gardening, it is like being an architect, you plan it before so that you save time, so that is practical too.
Then I go on about some architects doing nice things, but not always adapted to the persons living in!
I usually say also that it means to stop separating intellectual and manual jobs, and that we have to relate both. What we do with hands, we have to do it with our brain and our heart, all together.

How about being adapted to a being? -> Knowing it better
And so I say that if you know the needs of yours plants, that is the same as someone knowing you enough to make you the right surprise, to prepare you the meal you like best... and who asks you when does not know!
For plants, it means knowing, preferably before planting them, where they will thrive, be happy (and cost you less for tending them). So you must know their tastes about water, sun, temperatures and much more.

So, permaculture is about truly relating beings, including ourselves.
It is beyond love when love is only "my best wishes", "do my best", it is about making less "mistakes with good intentions".
Love is a good start, if it is followed by the longing to know better.

And when you tend plants so that they get what they need, then they normally thrive and give food.
It is an exciting adventure and a nice hobby, to discover the world of plants, but also of animals, and by the way of ourselves, and what we really need for living.
 
cairn paul
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Location: Rural North Devon, UK.
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"natural horticulture".
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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An aggregation of techniques from societies worldwide who were able to survive and thrive without external inputs.
 
Ian Taylor
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Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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Oh I think this is an easy one.

Frame it like this:

Permaculture is simply farming while working with natural systems rather than trying to fight uphill against them.

For example, Conventional Farming is very chemical and machinery intensive, Organic Farming is very labor and time intensive but Permaculture is life intensive.

Or more directly as an example, say you are growing greens and have a problem with slugs,

A conventional farmer will spray them with pesticides until everything living in the area besides the greens is dead, an organic farmer will either live with the damage, pick them off by hand or find some sort of "natural" spray to use on the greens. A permaculture farmer has fewer pests to begin with but when too many slugs present themselves they just go and run ducks in there and have them go eat all of them for you. While for the previous two the slugs were a big issue and resulted in a big suck of time and money, the permaculturist made money by the addition of the slugs in the form of eggs and duck meat and spent nearly no time solving the problem, which wasn't really even a problem at all from their perspective.

Permaculture is farming for those who can think.
 
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