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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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When you cant sleep at night because you‘r planing where to put the biodigester.😂
 
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For me, it has been to truly experience the abundance and beauty of designing with nature.
To get to that point has taken 5 years of actively implementing permaculture design and integrating systems so I can work less hard.
(Preceded by research into many aspect of sustainable cities since 2008)
Sometimes I get a panic attack when I go outside, because I know that there is so much food that is going to stare me in the face and I'm going to have to do something about that.
I don't know what fast food tastes like, I don't know what restaurant food tastes like.
Also, maybe its about realising that it's not about getting to a point where you ever work less hard, but just about having more time to work on the things that you like more often, and every now and then sitting back and just marvelling at the beauty of a more integrated environment, and the diversity that comes with inviting wilderness in.
When you get past having to implement the big changes, and you can just tweak small things in the system that spurs on big change.
When you've synced with the patterns of the system and they become predictable. Ofcourse that never quite happens and there is always some new observation or idea or disaster.
Maybe being a permaculturist is just about waking up everyday excited about the challenges and the opportunities and unexpected turns the day will take, and the new things you'll learn, and the patterns you'll observe?
 
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I look at permaculture as well.. a culture, its a way of living. And if your living your life as close as you can to it, you are. It’s also impossible to know it all. We’ll always be learning more as we grow. I wouldn’t short change yourself into thinking your not a permaculturist, unless you want to have this unrealistic unobtainable idealistic definition of what it is to be one.
Now changing an electrical socket doesn’t make you an electrician but then thats a trained profession, something that permaculture doesn’t have. It’s not a profession, there are no paid courses you go to. So its not really something that can be compared like that. But if you did compare it, think of this. Just because you are an electrician does it mean you have no room to grow? Can new electrical things be found, utilized or done better? Of course! Even teachers or professors learn new things about their subjects all the time.
I’m no where close being a good source of any information about permaculture. But its a life style I want to push towards, and learning new information excites me.
I am, because I want to be. It’s my life’s choice to take this path as far as I’m capable. And to attempt to deny me saying this is my path. Is destroying my progress before it even starts.
 
Leigh Tate
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Stephen Leaf wrote:Now changing an electrical socket doesn’t make you an electrician but then thats a trained profession, something that permaculture doesn’t have. It’s not a profession, there are no paid courses you go to. So its not really something that can be compared like that.


Stephen, but don't you think a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) equates to professional training? These courses cost a lot of money to take and result in permaculture certification, enabling people to offer consultation and permaculture design services.
 
Abraham Palma
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Leigh Tate wrote:

Stephen Leaf wrote:Now changing an electrical socket doesn’t make you an electrician but then thats a trained profession, something that permaculture doesn’t have. It’s not a profession, there are no paid courses you go to. So its not really something that can be compared like that.


Stephen, but don't you think a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) equates to professional training? These courses cost a lot of money to take and result in permaculture certification, enabling people to offer consultation and permaculture design services.



This is as saying that a permaculturist is someone who is qualified as a permaculturist designer. Does it mean that if I am not able to design anything I can't live a permaculturist life?
 
Leigh Tate
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Abraham Palma wrote:

Leigh Tate wrote:

Stephen Leaf wrote:Now changing an electrical socket doesn’t make you an electrician but then thats a trained profession, something that permaculture doesn’t have. It’s not a profession, there are no paid courses you go to. So its not really something that can be compared like that.


Stephen, but don't you think a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) equates to professional training? These courses cost a lot of money to take and result in permaculture certification, enabling people to offer consultation and permaculture design services.



This is as saying that a permaculturist is someone who is qualified as a permaculturist designer. Does it mean that if I am not able to design anything I can't live a permaculturist life?


Abraham, in context, Stephen is saying permaculture isn't a profession because there are no paid courses for it. My response was to point out PDCs as a qualifier. It wasn't meant to imply anything more, just that I think it CAN be a profession if one chooses to go that route. But there are many routes.

I think the value of becoming certified through a PDC is two-fold:
  1 - Personal reasons. If I take a course, then I am offered a structured learning program and know that I've got all the basics under my belt (as opposed to my current willy-nilly method of learning).
  2 - It enables a person to "make a living" at it, so to speak. With certification, I could offer consultation or design services to others because I have documentation to show I'm qualified. In other words, it certifies marketable skills.

I'll likely never take a PDC, but that doesn't stop me from learning the methods and putting into practice what I learn. I'm not a certified electrician either, but I can certainly work on my own house and do my own projects. Ditto for plumbing. What I wouldn't feel comfortable doing, is offering myself as an expert or professional permaculturist. I'm just on the journey, like many of the rest of us here.

Permies.com offers a lot of learning opportunities for anyone interested. I love the merit badge system offered by our SKIP and PEP programs. There are also opportunities for internships, apprenticeships, and weekend work programs.

Some people are picky about labels, but Permies strongly discourages the "permaculture my way" approach. Anything that suggests that someone isn't doing permaculture because they don't subscribe to a specific definition or method, isn't acceptable. We're all here because we want to learn, and we're all at different stages of our journey. We're all learning together.
 
Stephen Leaf
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Did not think of the PDCs, as I sort of said earlier. I think of it as a Lifestyle or an alternative method of farming thats more earth friendly than what we’ve probably all grown up knowing as well as a general change to our way of thinking sorta rolled into 1.
Perhaps I was a bit more passionate than I should have been thinking there were actually people who thought you can’t call yourself one if you don’t have some slip of paper saying someone else thought you knew enough. While I will agree you need to have experience under your belt to offer anything that could be considered a professional advice, I also don’t really think that requires a certification. Hands on knowledge is just as important as knowing something thats written down.
I’ve done computer programming in several languages for several years in the past, but never have received any sort of certification. I’ve also been paid for my services and have offered just as good of service. Reading some code done by certified professionals has been painful to look at. It was written to just get the job done, not to be done right or for any future expansions, in some cases it was questionable how it even worked in the first place, but I would say it barely worked. Just my 2 cents about passion and experience vs a course someone paid for.
 
Robert Ray
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My reaction could be thin skin. But I think I am more than a hobby farmer or seasonal gardener though I guess I could be those as well as being a Permaculturist. I'm a fair skier but I wasn't always, I can bang around on my dirt bike still but there are those that are in a class far above my skill set. I'll be a permaculture practitioner and be happy with that.
 
Abraham Palma
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Fair enough.
I thought you were saying that Stephen was wrong because there is such thing as a trained profession. You've clarified it pretty well, thank you. :)

On the subject.  B)
If I were to make a comparison with veganism: people can say they are vegan just when following the vegan rules. There's the qualification as a vegan dietist, but one does not need to be a dietist to be a vegan. A person that likes what veganism means, but does nothing to change his diet, might be a vegan sympathiser, but not a vegan. Someone who is eating less meat and trying to eliminate it from the diet, is a wannabe vegan in process of becoming one. You can only say you are a vegan when you follow its rules all the time, eating meat very rarely if ever.

So, what are the rules of the permaculture? The rules that if we follow them we can say we are permaculturists? There are the 12 design principles, but those are for the designer to follow. I'd say that for the common people (not the designers) it would suffice to make use of the permaculture designs, even if these are designed by other people. If I am living in a house with a yard designed by a permaculturist fellow, and maintaining the garden the permaculture way, I'd say I am applying permaculture in my life, thus I am living it, a part of it at least. If I am feeding myself with food produced in a neighbouring permaculture farm, even if I didn't produce it myself, I'd say I am living it too.
Or maybe I am just a wannabe permaculturist because I only make use of these designs in a 10% of my life (like I am right now, the rest coming from the modern industrial lifestyle), the same as the wannabe vegan who just eat a little less meat, but it still does not qualify as one.

In other words, if you happen to live the same life as your wife/husband the permaculture designer, even if you did not design anything yourself, even if you don't care the garden or the crops, you are living permaculture too. By extension, if a village can meet its needs just with permaculture designs, then even the teacher and the doctor that make a life providing their services to the village are living permaculture, maybe without knowing.
By opposition, all the people that require most of their consumed products to be produced by the industrial modern world are living the industrial life, even if they never worked in a factory.

People who think that they need to produce a yield (and a farming yield at that!) to be a permaculturist are limiting their definition to the farmer designers, so only farmers can ever be permaculturists. That would be a lonely perspective. I can understand that, right now, is night impossible to live permaculture being just a teacher, since probably a 99% of the stuff you need to buy comes from the industrial lifestyle, and probably we will need at least 60% of the world population to be farmers and gardeners if we want to feed everyone this way. But let's keep it open so more people can join and support us!

 
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In my opinion 'the permaculture lifestyle' is a direction you are going in. You'll come closer and closer ...
It is much more than only gardening, growing food. As you probably know permaculture has 'Zones'. In the garden and surroundings you have Zones 1 - 5. But there's a Zone 0 and a Zone 00 too! Zone 0 being indoors in your house and together with others, and Zone 00 your ideas, way of thinking and acting.
 
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Saying it is free, so say it whenever you please. Say it each morning to your reflection in the mirror. Whisper it into your sleeping partner's ear at 3am. Mutter it under your breath when the cop hands you the speeding ticket. Slur it weepily to the bartender after that 9th shot of bourbon. Casually mention it to the sullen loan officer at the bank. Proclaim it in a loud booming voice when the preachers asks if anyone objects to the impending marriage. Say it now, say it loud, you're perming it and you are proud!
 
Did Steve tell you that? Fuh - Steve. Just look at this tiny ad:
Building Your Permaculture Property | Free Permaculture Summit | April 23-25
https://permies.com/t/159045/Building-Permaculture-Property-Free-Permaculture
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