I was just wondering this, as I'm under the impression that it's something people have gravitated towards or arrived at under a wide variety of circumstances.
For me, it was the realisation that the current global trade system, aside from being massively destructive on all levels, is not something we can rely on for long. So we need to take care of ourselves and our communities in the least resource-heavy ways we can, and to plan for the long term too. As in, centuries ahead.
As well as that, I'm partial to anything that means you can gain more for less effort.
I don’t want to punch a clock any longer than I have to. After staying home w/ the kids for 18 years, running odd businesses out of the house because I couldn’t afford child care, I finally went back to work in a job that would give me a meager retirement check. I should be able to retire now in 3 years.
I stumbled on permaculture while trying to learn about raising as much of my food at home as possible.
The more food and energy that I am able to produce the less I will need money to buy these things. That leaves more money for luxuries and unplanned expenses like car repairs and medical bills. Hopefully it will not be necessary for me to work a 40 hour week outside of the home.
I think that applying permaculture techniques is my best shot at making this happen.
And, of course, there is the ‘prepper’ side of me: If the power goes out and the computers go down – I will still have shelter, warmth, water, food, and transportation – at least for a while.
I came to it because as a trained environmental toxicologist I KNEW the poisons that were on/in the food we eat and wanted nothing to do with the crap! As a biologist I am also aware of the difference in food quality. The road has been slow though in convincing SWMBO that the extra effort and expense for quality food is more than worth the loss of convenience.
farmed for four years on a medium-sized organic farm, and realized that 1: growing things is wicked rad, and 2: there had to be a better way than constant tilling and weeding.
then I read an article about permaculture in the awesome, but now-defunct, Clamor magazine. it felt like what I had always been looking for, though I didn't know I was looking. it tied together so many of the things that are important to me (and generally not to be discussed hereabouts) in such an elegant and practical way. I wondered why it took me so long to find out about it and regretted that I hadn't gotten started years earlier.
then I spent six more years at the organic farm (which is run by super great folks and where I had some of the best times of my life thus far) while trying to get things started on my family's land.
I learned about permaculture while studying intentional communities. I toured a series of ecovillages, and everywhere I went people would say things like, "We're putting up this wind turbine as part of our permaculture design," or "We're digging these swales as part of our permaculture design," or "the chicken coop is next to the greenhouse as part of our permaculture design." Naturally I got curious about what this design system was that included such a wide range of disciplines!
This was in 2004, and there was a lot of talk about peak oil and climate change and the imminent fall of civilization. I had recently read some Derrick Jensen and a lot of Daniel Quinn and was feeling pretty hopeless about the world. Then I met Lonnie Gamble. I was very impressed by his off-grid homestead in Fairfield, Iowa, and I asked if he was preparing for peak oil or what. I'll never forget his response:
"I'd want to live this way even if the oil lasts forever, because it's a better way to live."
That made a huge impression on me because writers like Jensen and Quinn seem to be of the opinion that the only way we'll get out of this mess is for everything to collapse so we can start over. Lonnie's version of permaculture made me realize that the solution can arise while the problem is still going on... and in many ways it's a lot easier to build our way out while we still have the power and technology and infrastructure (and species diversity!) to work with. What's more, you don't win converts to a cause by telling them they're wrong, you win them by showing them you've got a better way. Permaculture is that better way, and I've devoted myself to demonstrating that to other people.
Ever since I can remember I've been traipsing in the wild, watching things grow, and learning about plants (especially the ones you can eat!) I'm also a "generalist" as Byron Joel says... I like to learn a bit about everything so the larger picture emerges. That goes great with permaculture; I get to learn about and stitch together notions of botany, animal husbandry, sacred geometry, wildcrafting, herbalism, food preservation, natural building techniques, earthworks, cultural theory, poetry... anything I'm interested in!
I believe that's a personality designated by the Meyer-Briggs test. It stands for Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging. There are descriptions online of what that actually means in more depth. Funny, I'm nearly the opposite as an INFP - Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving
As for what got me into Permaculture, I basically wanted to simplify my life, distill it down to the most necessary parts. I came across Permaculture while watching Paul's videos online and found it to be an ingenious way to solve many problems.
I am not opposed to using fossil fuels, genetic modification, nor any other energy source or space age technology available to us - of course, so long as it can be used safely, and risks and consequences are understood and remediated. The problem is, if we're going to take all that amazing technology and abundance of stored energy, and use it to make pretty tomatoes and drive them all over the place, and make disposable bags to put them in... well, that just seems stupid.
I know it seems weird and dichotomous, but I am raising chickens, planting trees and perennials, making hugelkultur, composting, and harvesting rainwater so that we can save the real good stuff to explore space, avert asteroid collisions, and prolong human life through actually boosting good health. I love the idea of humanity exploring space and time, but how the &@*$ are we supposed to do any of that cool stuff if we can't even feed ourselves without wasting all that energy?
Permaculture fits in my dislike of commercialism, dependence on others. My personality requires high doses of solitude and independence from society, and anything that gives me that freedom is highly valued by me.
I came across permaculture somewhere randomly on the net, and it pulled the rug out from under everything I "knew" about gardening, sustainability, etc.
At first, it was just about making my garden better, making less work, and less waste of time and resources in the garden- but in time I've found it to be a sensible philosophy for life in general.
Now I see everything I bring into my life as a resource or input, and everything leaving as a waste or output and this has helped to simplify my life immensely.
I get Chelsea Green Publishing emails with book sales. I got one with a sale on 'permaculture' books about two weeks ago, and was like "What's that?"
After looking it up, I realized that its more or less the same sort of thing I was planning to do anyway. ^_^
Once I spent some time watching/reading about permaculture, I was pretty impressed at the variety of techniques it networks, and decided to check into it more. Quite a useful tool. Permies was the first permaculture forum I checked out and I found that the community was friendly and helpful, which encourages me.
I find it useful to me for another reason: I can say "Here, mom, come look at this. This is what I want to do, what do you think?" instead of trying to spend three weeks trying to explain it.
I've been aware that modern civilization is on an unsustainable path since the mid 70's, when my high school Biology teacher explained it in our after-school Ecology Club meeting. It has been very frustrating for me to see, as my whole life has unfolded, that he was not only right, but the problem is growing rapidly worse. I fiinally decided that all I can do is to try to lead my own life as sustainably as I can, which is extremely difficult without removing one's self from almost all of society. I don't want to do that, either. So you're left feeling like you're stuck leading a life that you don't really want to. I had decided that was going to be about the best I could do......
Recently, I was looking into the possibility of raising chickens, and kept seeing references to permaculture. So, I googled permaculture, bought Gaia's Garden and now I'm hooked on planting a food forest, and it has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable undertakings I've ever had. I've learned to embrace the weeds! Maybe there's still a chance everything isn't going to hell after all.
Certifiable food forest gardener, free gardening advice offered and accepted. Permaculture is the intersection of environmentalsim and agriculture.
I've always thought the amount of work in gardening was stupid, and why not just try and make your garden more "wild"... Well in my search for help on these things I kept finding references to permaculture.
Fear of Bird Flu, Peak Oil, and the general TEOTWAWKI lead me to start "Prepping". I soon realized that true "Survival and Preparedness" has to include elements of self sufficiency and sustainable production of food. Along the way, I discovered that homegrown food is healthier, safer, cheaper, and tastier. Then I found out that I ENJOY working in the yard, planning, growing, and harvesting. Permaculture isn't just the way to individual survival, but the way to survival of our species and our planet as we know it.
I expressed my love for--and need for--connection with nature via seeking wild places for the longest time. I grew up going to most of the Canadian provinces, camping, hiking, and canoeing, and generally removing myself from civilization for numerous jaunts. I traveled extensively and was very much a peripatetic throughout my twenties and into my early thirties. When I finally started to settle in a little, I realized that I'd missed out on--and sorely missed--some of the simple graces like gardening, and wanted to connect with and get to know the home soil (as opposed to wilderness). Around the time this process was happening, I was living in Albuquerque, and by its very nature, living in the high desert (lacking resources and a true carrying capacity far below its population level) made me itchy about the future. I started seeking out people who were experimenting with renewable energy, and this lead me ultimately to making biodiesel. At first, my response to a growing sense of threat from the direction we are heading in as a civilization was to soothsay our impending demise. But like many, I've followed the curve toward the realization that worry and stress and paranoia are unproductive. So I looked for something that would be "world-building," and permaculture just showed up. Like so many, it has re-organized the way I see things, or perhaps it's brought longstanding patterns of thought and feeling that were already there into greater resolution. Whatever way you look at it, it is a chunk of goodness.
I started by wanting to grow a larger portion of my own food and grow it without all the pesticides and chemicals. I started looking more and more into organic gardening and urban gardening since I live in town. I found a few gardening forums and found the Backyard Orchard Culture methods of compact urban orchards and gardens. I was on that path for a while.
A few of my Facebook friends kept posting the organic gardening vids and the alt energy vids that Paul has posted on this site. That led me to here and here led me to permacutlure. Since finding this site I have bought 5-6 books on permaculture, green building and alt energy. You guys are costing me money.
I like to start things, I don't like to take care of things. I like to have ready access to tasty food, freshly picked, I don't want to spend my days hoeing rows. Also, the tropics lends itself very well to working with nature, you really don't want to fight nature in her tropical form, you ARE going to lose.
Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
After years of corporate struggle I found myself wondering why I was climbing that job ladder, what did I expect to have, will it make me happy?
I looked around at the world after 9/11, the bird flu, poison in our food, nuclear disaster, the loss of liberty and I started to realize that this was wrong and I did not want my kids to grow up in this world.
I found Jack Spirko's podcast and he reminded me of my Grandparents. I grew up in a poor community of hillbillies in Kentucky. We took care of each other and lived off the land.
Many of the things Jack said about permaculture reminded me of what my Grandparents did on the farm. It made sense to me, I have found something in permaculture that can make a positive change in the world.
Building a 40 acre homestead in north Florida
I like to think that logic led me to permaculture - If someone can make a good logical argument for something I'm willing to give it more consideration. So far, the vast majority of the things that I've been introduced to in permaculture make sense.
Of course, I didn't realize that what I was thinking was considered permaculture until about 2 years ago. During a winter of too much down-time I was indulging myself in a non-stop flurry of internet research and noticed a trend: A lot of the things that caught my interest somehow led me here to permies. Rocket stoves - here's a thread on Permies; Humanure - thread on Permies; Earthbag building - wait a minute, isn't this comment about wofati leading me to - yep, Permies! Another link clicked brought me to the greening the desert video and I realized that if permaculture didn't embody everything I believed in, it at least came the closest.
So now I'm a convert. I do my part to make permaculture part of society's vocabulary and continually beat my head against ignorance ("but the Roundup commercial said they're the best solution" says the customer). Luckily for those of us with just a little patience and long-term vision the results speak for themselves, making people much more open to a new way of thinking. It's still funny to watch people's faces when I tell them I pee on my compost pile, especially right after having them sample something grown with a top dressing of that great compost.
"Instead of Pay It Forward I prefer Plant It Forward" ~Howard Story / "God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools." ~John Muir
Stumbling around the net I ran into Hugumasompin Culture or some such and ended up here. Buried logs ...go figure. I just felt right at home. Just started converting a few year old fruit trees into a food forest. Long, long way to go. I did bury a few logs!
About 10 years ago I was taking care of an apartment complex. I saved my pennies, bought a house. Free rent wasn't helping me anymore so I went out and took a job with a painting contractor. To word it nicely...we both had other people with whom we would rather be spending our time. I spent a few months messing around the house, no wage job, but picked up some cash here and there doing carpentry and woodwork. It wasn't quite enough to pay the bills, so I looked for ways to cut down the bills, feed myself and become more self-sufficient. I heated hot water and did some cooking with the sun, got hold of some chickens, and started growing some vegetables in the back yard. I was way too broke to afford fertilizer, had to make compost. The water was municipal, had to conserve water in the garden, started using pitcher irrigation and mulch. Got into double dug raised beds, leaf mold, solar everything, built a rickety greenhouse out of scraps, and pretty much scraped along by the seat of my pants.
The money ran low so I went and got a job. I got caught up on the bills and kept on plugging away. The solar hot water was plumbed directly into the house, got a woodstove, heated one room with the sun, grew enough stuff to share with my neighbor. All the while I was learning more about organic and natural growing methods. Something clicked, I became determined to move in the direction of my own farm. The little city lot just didn't cut it.
Fast forward 10 years...
I took a job as a foreman for an industrial contractor. The hours are long, the work is grueling at times, but the money is good. I was able to pick up 3.7 acres out here in the middle of noplace. Mostly pasture, with some trees along one side. More chickens, even took in a little bull to keep the field mowed and help with compost production. The solar stuff is still at the other house, but I have another woodstove (neither one is hooked up yet). It is my intention to develop this place into a Pick-Your-Own Vegetable Farm, flush the job, and do my thing, whatever that thing may be. I'm getting things in place slowly but steadily. About another year will see this place paid off, at which point the equation changes with respect for the need for full time employment. I'm right on the edge now. Within a few months I'll be able to start selling some of the stuff growing around here. Lots of plans, lots of ideas, plenty of motivation.
Not being one to follow instructions and call it good enough, I was always up late digging around for more information about what I was doing. I found this forum a couple of years ago. A lot of those ideas and projects I had going on were being discussed by folks that seemed to make a lot of sense to me. There were even some new ideas being tossed around that warranted a good look. I just kinda stuck around here.
I've had a pretty good grasp of organic methods, but it seemed like it was not quite complete. Gradually I moved deeper and deeper into the tempest, sorting out what I wanted to do with myself, and how I wanted to do it. Every day I drag my sorry arse out of bed to work in a chemical plant or pulp mill serves to reinforce the notion that the life I wish to lead is out there. Wearing a rubber suit inside a sulfuric acid tower is not for me. Sunshine, fresh air...that's more like it. I make a good living repairing coal fired power plants, but the result is continued pollution and promotion of climate destabilization. I spend my days off sequestering carbon in leaf mold I add to the soil to grow real power plants...cabbage, for example. For me, the right path ahead is permaculture, at least my form of it. There is no waste. I gather dead leaves and plants, they feed the worms. The worms feed the chickens and put out castings. The castings go into the soil to produce better plants. Kitchen and crop scraps go back to the worms. When I flush the job, I need a way to cover what few bills I have. What better way that to share my surplus in an entrepreneurial manner.
Things are falling into place. There are plenty of people out there begging for clean, nutritious, naturally grown food. I can provide some of that to some of them, and I don't screw up the planet in the process. I'm not dependent on global distribution for the inputs needed to keep things going. I don't need to run a pump for thousands of gallons of water everyday that will wash away nutrients and topsoil. I don't need years of indebtedness to buy a combine, or fleet of trucks, or even a tractor. I can do everything I need to with hand tools, although the lawn mower with bagger is pretty handy. The big jobs of tilling and aerating are best done by the worms. The methods improve the soil, the air, the diversity of life, all without destroying anything else: gain without penalty. Resilience is a key feature. Drought, heat, flood, cold can wipe out traditional (read: chemical) growers, while my little corner of the world keeps plugging along. Over time I get more production with reduced effort. This is the way nature wants to work. All I do is steer the land in that direction. Why do it any other way?
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
From activism related to our earth and its inhabitants, I have found permaculture to be a step beyond direct action from just a critical standpoint. Through searching for better techniques related to building shelter and growing food, I came across Paul's videos, which pointed me to this site.
I'm so happy! And I wish to make this tiny ad happy too:
Permaculture Voices 1, 2 and 3 - all 117 hours of video!