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When can I say I'm living a permaculture lifestyle?

 
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At what point can I say I am living a permaculture lifestyle?
In another thread I have been told that in some areas it is impossible to live a "permaculture lifestyle".
What does that mean?
A backyard permaculture practitioner that is making an effort to supply a portion of his/her food would that be a "permaculture lifestyle?
Do I have to produce 100% of my food?
When am I a permaculturist?
 
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I say one is living a permaculture lifestyle when one is thinking about permaculture and moving in a positive direction.

Like Paul's eco scale, different people are at different levels, and sometimes those exact levels may be hard to define, but it's all about trying to be better in the end to me.
 
Robert Ray
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Exactly, forward movement. Scale is also a factor, Apartment, house, 1/2 acre, 5 acres. What is in my physical control am I utilizing my kingdom to it's full extent?, or moving towards that. Am I a good steward. I believe I am more than a common gardener, I don't like being called a hobby farm, I want to reach a higher plain or be identified as being at what I consider a higher plain of a permaculturist.
 
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Robert Ray wrote:At what point can I say I am living a permaculture lifestyle?



I think that anyone here who is interested in better earth stewardship can say they're living a permaculture lifestyle. The fact that we are familiar with the term "permaculture" at all says a lot to me.

Robert Ray wrote:In another thread I have been told that in some areas it is impossible to live a "permaculture lifestyle".
What does that mean?



Will we ever be truly able to live independently of our western civilization? Probably not. But as Robert Ray said, "forward movement" is good.

Robert Ray wrote:A backyard permaculture practitioner that is making an effort to supply a portion of his/her food would that be a "permaculture lifestyle?



I would say yes. When your backyard has food growing, as opposed to the vast majority of "delinquent suburban landscapes" of chemically-enhanced green lawns.

Robert Ray wrote:Do I have to produce 100% of my food?



I don't think so. But more is better. My family of 4 is on one-half of an acre. Part of that space is our house, our workshop, our driveway, and our chicken area. So less than .5 acre is really "farmable." I don't think we could grow all the rice we need, and we can't grow coconuts or mangoes. But we do grow many other fruit trees and a fair bit of our other food. We're always aiming to grow more, though.

When am I a permaculturist?

Right now, I'd say. If we are struggling with the issue, then I say we are. Others who are stuck in the old status-quo of Pop-Tart breakfasts and "kill the dandelions" mentality wouldn't even bother to ask themselves these sorts of questions.
 
Robert Ray
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I'm middle aged so I figure I've got 30 seasons left, 30 gardens to plan, 30 tries to make it better. Just don't call me a Hobby Farmer.
 
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Robert Ray wrote:At what point can I say I am living a permaculture lifestyle?
In another thread I have been told that in some areas it is impossible to live a "permaculture lifestyle".
What does that mean?
A backyard permaculture practitioner that is making an effort to supply a portion of his/her food would that be a "permaculture lifestyle?
Do I have to produce 100% of my food?
When am I a permaculturist?


These are really excellent questions. I ponder the same things. But while I utilize a lot of permaculture techniques, I don't feel qualified to call myself a permaculturist. I say that because, to me, a label implies a certain amount of knowledge and practical expertise to qualify. Maybe some examples would help me explain myself. If I change out an electrical socket in a wall, does that make me an electrician? Or if I unclog a drain, can I call myself a plumber? So while I use a number of permaculture techniques, I honestly can't answer anyone's questions about what's best for their own property. Heck, I can't even remember the 12 principles of permaculture.

Another thing that's challenging, is that permaculture seems to mean different things to different people. My first permaculture book was Sepp Holzer's Permacultaure, and after I read it, I was really excited. So I started looking at various websites and discovered a vast array of qualifiers folks were putting on it. Some said one have to have a certificate from a course, some said one had to embrace a particular political point of view, and some added religion in the form of earth worship. According to any one of these, I'll never be a permaculturist. :(

Probably, what's helped me the most has been The Wheaton Eco Scale. As others here have pointed out, adopting a permaculture lifestyle is a process, and we're all in different stages of the process. Paul's scale helps folks identify where they are between non-permaculturist and ideal permaculture practice, and then helps us to form goals to make progress. Something is better than nothing. We can all make progress, regardless of how impossible others think it is. I think that's more important that a label.
 
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Robert,

I had a nice, long response to this but it looks like everyone beat me to it.  I would say the better question is living “are you living *towards* a permaculture lifestyle?”.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough and in my mind if you continue to take steps towards permaculture, you are on the permaculture path.

Eric
 
Robert Ray
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This question arose from a thread where the other party more or less told me that Permaculture was not viable north of Colorado and that even Colorado was not a good area to implement Permaculture in.  My reply that any effort to improve my impact was worthy. So just wondering what others thoughts were. Those in those areas were not necessarily Permaculturists but gardeners or hobby farmers.
 
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Robert Ray wrote:This question arose from a thread where the other party more or less told me that Permaculture was not viable north of Colorado and that even Colorado was not a good area to implement Permaculture in.  My reply that any effort to improve my impact was worthy. So just wondering what others thoughts were.



I think whoever said that has a different view of permaculture than I have...  quite simply, I view permaculture as doing my best to work with nature, rather than against.  Emphasis on the "doing my best" part.
 
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I think it's often a gradual change. When I first heard of permaculture, it was when my friends started growing veggies beside their house. When I found this forum, I first thought it was too extreme ;) but I kept coming back for the knowledge.
Then I met more teachers and read more books and became more involved here, and at some point I started to actually understand how my garden works. That's when I killed my house plants :P
Now I have both food in the garden and plants in the house, and I'm learning a lot about everything.
In fact I believe that permaculture is knowledge about complex systems. Sometimes it's being reduced to "just gardening", because that's how people usually start.

In another thread I have been told that in some areas it is impossible to live a "permaculture lifestyle".



There are things that go clearly against the basic ethics of permaculture, and then it might be impossible indeed; greenwashing is what happens in such cases.
However, I do like to apply the principles of permaculture in rather "unusual" areas - for example, when I was arranging a conference, or now when I'm designing a bioactive terrarium. It's fun! And often can bring up many new ideas.

A backyard permaculture practitioner that is making an effort to supply a portion of his/her food would that be a "permaculture lifestyle?



That's a good place to start! It's definitely not only about food, but we all need it, and "the how" of creating it is so important.
 
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Well, I'd say that a permaculturist is anyone who advocates permaculture (like an environmentalist is an activist that wants to protect the environment). Someone who advocates with the example, too. But that doesn't mean that the permaculturist has achieved the permaculture status (the same an environmentalist could harm the environment with bad practices).

How can you say that you have achieved a permacultural status, say living a permacultural life? This is a difficult question to measure, since the proof is in the puding. In theory, permaculture can be practiced forever and ever, with no dependence on non renewable sources, with a social structure that can support you no matter what your skills are. So, as long as you are making use of a non renewable resource for some of the vital parts of your life, you are not living 100% permacultural. As long as you don't have a social support that is not dependent on non renewable resources, you aren't living 100% permaculture.

Does it mean you have to provide all food for yourself? Not at all! You can live permaculturally and never grow a potato. Maybe your skills are teaching and singing, and your community is happy to provide your food in exchange for your services. Or you simply get paid for doing the things you do best and use your money to buy fresh food or even prepared meals, like you do now.
The question really is, what of the things you do for living is really sustainable? Will you be able to provide for your home when computers, the internet, phones, cars, planes, synthetic products, plastics, surgery, batteries, mechanic tools, sfsf, stop being available? Will you feel protected by a community in case things go wrong? And your grand-grand-grand sons? If you could measure how much you need for that, and how much you have achieved already, you can tell where in the scale you are now. But since we are still using non renewable resources for pretty much everything, this is hard to measure.

I guess we will soon know.
 
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For me, I get to decide if I'm living a permaculture lifestyle in general. If I were putting myself out as a teacher maybe I would feel differently but I don't much like hierarchy. I prefer sharing.
 
Abraham Palma
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Stacy Witscher wrote:For me, I get to decide if I'm living a permaculture lifestyle in general. If I were putting myself out as a teacher maybe I would feel differently but I don't much like hierarchy. I prefer sharing.


In my book, if you purchase all your food from permacultural farmers, you are partly living permaculture too. If you grow your own food but are wearing plastic clothes made in China, that's not very permanent.
I think there is a misconception here, because every time we see anything in a video about permaculture, we see lush gardens. Food forests and urban raised beds. And this is part of permaculture, but not all of it. I think we should see things in terms of community rather than individually. You don't have to do everything by yourself. What you can't do, you purchase it from others.
In fact, I think Wheaton got it right by requiring a number of skills to be certificated, but not all of them.
 
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"When can I say I'm living a permaculture lifestyle?" Personally I think it is when you can put food on the table you made.

But then it gets grey, people toss around terms like "self sufficient" "sustainable" and "permaculture" I know people that have 4'x8' garden boxes and talk all day about being "self sufficient" and "sustainable" ? The reality is I have seen very few that do not need to go to the store for food. So when I think too deep on "When can I say I'm living a permaculture lifestyle?" I don't know. Good question.
 
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I refer to myself as a homesteader.   I seldom use the term permaculture.  This is no knock on permaculture practices.  I just never see myself knowing enough about it ... permaculture, for me, will always be in a state of becoming. I will never be able to say  I have reached it as a destination.
 
Robert Ray
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Maybe that is what we all are students of permaculture, learning more each day, season. Though the idea of complete sustainability has never been something that I think is possible for me, a reduction of inputs and and increase in output through Permaculture methods is tangible.
 
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My understanding is that permaculture according to its originators is a design science.  If you are applying that design science in your life that makes you a permaculturists.
Some may argue to the contrary if you have not implemented some particular aspect that is their favorite. and if they say you have to apply all of them that was never intended. That would be like saying I don't know how to write because I did not put every word I know into this comment.
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