the recent contest for Fukuoka's strategies for sowing seeds in the desert reminded me of how i came upon Permaculture initially, and so i want to start a thread on the story and encourage others to share their stories here as well:)
i was browsing another unnamed forum - indirectly related to plants though - and someone mentioned Fukuoka's methods involving clovers, and upon looking into things i became intrigued and this lead to Sepp Holzer, and then these wonderful forums, from there one could say i had arrived at the permaculture pathway
Twenty years ago our yard was a lawn. Now we have about fifty fruittrees with lots of other plants under the canopy. It just kind of happened. I love trees and gardening, and wanted to go sustainable/organic. The more we researched the more we realized biodiversity and attracting predators were the keys. We planted a wide range of plants, both natives and edibles. We popped in a few ponds and the frogs quickly moved in. Now we have frogs, alligator lizards, hornets, opossums, lots of birds, and no pest problems. Very bio diverse and balanced. We make use of high density orchard planting and vertical gardening in pots ala Will Allen / Growing Power. Our other site is more like 'Greening the Desert' where we have a few acres of blowing dirt which we're in the process of greening and mulching.
I think I found this site searching for something about goats. Since I've been here I've been burying lots of wood and planting more nitrogen fixing trees.
'Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.' - Hippocrates
For me it was a conglomeration of things. One of those moments that "it all just came together and made sense" . Then one thing led to another...
Though strangely that last "tipping point" thing for me was reading Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead. I know many Permaculturalists pretty much hate Ayn Rand but her whole philosophy about the Makers of society I think really defines the spirit of people that aren't beholden to preconceived notions, aren't in line with the "that's just the way you do things" ideals, they question everything, they basically don't settle and always have a thirst for learning and knowledge. I don't think you could describe a permaculturalist better.
Now a lot of her other philosophy can be a little excessive (supposedly there's just a few people that make society go and everyone else are just moochers? or people with a lack of dignity? gimme a break), unrealistic (I think everyone shapes society and everyone is a "moocher" to a degree), unfeeling (apparently its a human ideal to be a workaholic? Ayn needed to enjoy the simpler things in life a little more) etc etc.
Though the unwavering "can-do" attitude is something that I took from it and then I came across Permaculture and I felt it was practically meant to be.
I don't want to start an Ayn Rand discussion but I thought people might find it Ironic that she was what led me to permaculture.
I cannot remember when I heard the word permaculture for the first time but I think it was about ten, fifteen years ago. Since my youth I've been interested in environmental issues and later I studied them in the university and also worked in environmental projects and did a lot of volunteer work for environmental NGOs. I didn't come across permaculture in my studies at least I don't remember. But I did hear the word mentioned a few times and every time I thought now that's just crazy, there's nothing permanent about culture! And didn't look into it. I assumed it was some kind of a spiritual and cultural thing or "tribe" (read: some hippies smoking pod and calling it permaculture)
I have been interested in organic gardening and organic farming for a long time and was practising some sort of organic gardening when I bumped into permaculture again about two or three years ago. I really cannot remember exactly but I think it was a link to some interesting farming method that one of my friends shared in Facebook. I looked into it and found another link and then at some point I think I came across this forum and that was it, I've been hooked ever since!
"But if it's true that the only person over whom I have control of actions is myself, then it does matter what I do. It may not matter a jot to the world at large, but it matters to me." - John Seymour
I think it can be the reverse and that permaculture was looking like my path!
When I come across something others do and that looks like what I believe and do, well, you know this,
it surely happens to you, then you join the idea to your life!
It just makes you stronger, thinking that many human beings come to the same conclusions and you are not alone.
But actually, I live here and grow, as the guardian of the place, but I do not say I do permaculture either...
My father gave me my own piece of earth when I was 5 or 6 year young...
My grand father never accepted chemicals when they arrived, he stayed organic when the word did not exist...
and I have been reading about natural ways of living all over the world since I am a child.
Some unrealistic ideas about the wild versus culture delayed the time I could understand the slight nuance of aboriginal people tending a piece of nature, instead of having to chose between leaving it alone / exploiting it. What was looking like random harvest to explorers actually was tending a large garden. All beings do their part in nature, and our part comes from the fact we have hands to do it. Let's do it!
Xisca - pics! Dry subtropical Mediterranean - My project However loud I tell it, this is never a truth, only my experience...
I tried the traditional gardening thing (tilling) down here in Georgia and failed miserably year after year. The only thing I could get to grow was okra. Last January I set up a Back To Eden garden and it was a huge success.
When I was 6 years old I decided to try put some beans with a small pot with soil. Out of pure curiosity.
A few months later I was making a revolution in my grandmother garden, growing all kinds of food and flowers. She was not upset, she was happy! I kept gardening for the next 24 years until now. But about six years ago, I visited a permaculture farm in Portugal, because I wanted to get "back to the nature".
So since then I have been focusing more in my own self-sufficiency, growing my garden without any external inputs, saving my seed, growing perennials, experimenting with mulching and guilds, etc... Now, it's my passion
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
I've read various articles over the years, but never actually pursued the craft. Have visited this site over the course of, I don't know, a few years maybe, but only read articles as posted by others on various forums/web sites. Finally, the Hugelkultur thing got my attention and now here I am, a regular visitor. I think we should pay the guy running this site!
I've gardened on and off since childhood but what got me onto permaculture was a book I read a few years ago "Gardening for the Future of the Earth" which introduced me to folks such as Mollison, Fukuoka, Wes Jackson and others. I gradually began acquiring books about them as well and began tentatively attempting to apply some of the ideas. I'm a very slow learner. This messageboard has been a huge help.
I was looking for away to get apples from the old apple tree that was here. Lots of drops, bug eaten apples, and misshaped fruit. I did not want to use chemicals or sprays. So I started reading everything I could find on how apples were grown in the old days. Then I found out about forest type gardening. The old apple tree now has a lot of companion plants around it. The apples still have problems but the tree now gives me some that are edible. Perhaps next year will be even better. Oh yeah I got hooked on the hole permaculture thing and have other apples, pears, cherries, plums, blue berries, strawberries, and the list just keeps getting bigger ever year. Just walk thru the yard for snacks.
Truthfully I don't know when I started. My Grandparents probably had much to do with it. They were Victorian raised and gardens, nature, and doing for oneself were very important aspects of the family. I can remember my Grandmother explaining to me about the connection of kitchen scraps and having fish for dinner. Her compost pile was at the back of the yard by the burn barrel. My Grandfather would sit outside in the yard and the small birds would come and land on him for their breakfast and loving session. My parents gardened and one of the family activities was going for long walks in the local forests and parks to see what was going to be for dinner. We found everything from morels to pawpaws. So when I became a hippie-ish young mother and had my own family I learned the connection between doing for oneself and the pocketbook.
Now I am learning about aquaponics to do away with as much agro chemicals as I can.
I don't know when I first heard of permaculture...for me it was probably in the '70's, though the principles have always been with me as the family really stressed being a steward of the earth.
About a month ago I was looking for some canning recipes. Several searches, links and clicks later, I ended up here. I have been coming back ever since.
Permaculture is still very new to me, but I have been looking for a way to become more self-sufficient for several years. It started with a small garden and has been evolving ever since. I am beginning my first compost project and also setting up some Hugelkultur beds this year.
Still very much a consumerist and novice permaculturist, but I am of the opinion that every little bit helps. Thanks for all the great information.
I was already on my way down to a permaculture homestead, without even realizing it. My goal has always been a sustainable homestead that required very little work. In my research of how to best accomplish this I stumbled across permaculture. When I discovered this I'm like whoa this permaculture this is saying a lot of the stuff I am like trees are better than tomatoes and stuff like that.
She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches changes.
I was about ten years old and at whole foods and I saw this guy talking about "paradise gardening". He was basically talking about a dummed down version of food forest i could vaguely understand. His name is Anthony Anderson. He inspired me so much! I've been trying to grow a paradise garden since then. Only like 200 square feet of area with a pomegranate/grape/herbs and veggies, but we had our first successful crop this fall - sweet potatoes. Just yesterday I made a dug in hugel bed and planted a winter poly culture(:
Hmm well I first heard the term permaculture a few (3-4) years ago and the person telling me about it some how said it was trademarked or copyrighted and with that I had no intrest in knowing anything more about permaculture because it is just more of someone wanting to get paid and we have more than enough of that already.
Now about 2 years ago I learned about Aquaponics and it was intriguing so as I started learning more and planning out my set up, I was looking for a more selfsustaining life that I could use my past experiences with solar and wind and I have friends who are into permaculture but I just avoided any talk about permaculture based off of my dislike for someone wanting to get paid instead of helping others to learn a good system.
So as I was thinking through the how's and why's it brought me back to permaculture as that was the types of people who had answers to a few questions I was looking for, So the Ah Ha moment was when I joined this site and I saw my dislike for the Corporate way was holding me back from learning and building my reretirement plan.
So here I am.....LOL
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -Benjamin Franklin
I've gardened since childhood (Mum is still planting fruit trees (in the same garden) at 82 years old) but came to Permaculture via the Transition movement. Did my PDC in 2012 and my partner and I are continuing the process of converting our city lot into food production, with an eye to less work since we're not getting any younger.
I hated vegetable gardening, screw rows and walking in mud, I am a lazy person in many ways. After I ran into permie things. I realized I was already doing some of it, it was just interesting. I was already organic. I already had mixed beds....saw it as specimen plantings or english gardening...nothing wider than i could reach without putting my foot in the mud. This is simply tossing it together in a more planned fashion for better results.
Now how did I run into the perm thing? well that would be the rocket mass heater. I am a new prepper too. How can one prepare for possible breaks in the infrastructure without thought as to how sustainable your solutions are. No way am i going to put away flammable petroleum products.
I was getting into gardening, so i watched ALOT of gardening videos. Then i wanted to plant a garden in the woods because it sounded cool to me. I typed in "forest garden" or something on youtube. I ran into geoff lawton's 7 food forest's in 7 minutes. It all progressed from there. Then i started digging up my mom's back yard like HARDCORE.
Don't mean for this to be a downer but I have seen in the world where hungry and thirsty people can do horrible things to one another, and where people have been controlled by others interfering with access to food and drink. The survivalist, prepper path for me didn't or doesn't allow everyone to take charge of their peaceful existance as the idea of permaculture does. Local abundance of food with less dependence on transportation, out of area input and thoughtful care of the land is what I want to see. If someone else controls food and water they control the people.
"There is enough in the world for everyones needs, but not enough for everyones greed"
I admit I have stockpiled food and I have hundreds of pounds of wheat and corn put away for when the zombies come, lol. But when my food runs out, then what? Deep down I knew the answer was that I had to get back to the earth, work harder at gardening, and learn to garden without all the normal things like store-bought seed, fertilizer, pesticides.
I read a book by Gene Logsdon called The Gardener's Guide to Better Soil where I first learned why factory agriculture is not sustainable. I educated myself further and learned more about the food we eat, the corporations selling us food sprayed with Round-Up, the chemical fertilizers, the disappearance of the topsoil, etc.
If I was going to grow my own food I might as well NOT put poison in it. So I figured out that I had to keep it natural, save the topsoil, work with the earth and not against it, and because I don't have tons of money to spend on organic compost, I had to reduce outside inputs.
Permaculture theoretically will help close that loop. I don't know if I'm sold yet, but I will give it my best shot. And if I have it halfway working when the zombies come, so much the better.
For me, it was a couple of things. First was the bill for compost to start a vegetable garden (~$450). Second was planting several fruit trees with a real sense of pride, and then discovering all of the chemicals traditionally used to care for such fruit trees. Third was the cost of fencing to keep the deer out of the trees. At this point, my pocket book was hurting: my purpose in planting was to cut down on food costs, not to pay more money. Then I read sections of Gaia's garden on Amazon, including the section on keeping the deer away from the house and the section on greening up Sante Fe, NM. I have become more and more hooked since then.
Indeed, watching the chickens today as they go about fertilizing the garden over wintertime is a whole lot more entertaining than that first year of digging the soil up, turning it over, and spreading money (compost) into the soil. I enjoy sitting back and watching life happen. Gosh, we even put a caught mouse in our chick brooder this morning with our young kitten to try to teach her to be a better mouser. Although she never caught or ate the mouse, good fun was had by all--except the mouse--as our kitten chased the mouse all over the brooder for the next 45 minutes. When one of our older hen's wanted in to lay an egg in the brooder (no chicks now, no problem yet ...) she kicked out the cat and killed the mouse. Fun for all (except the now dead mouse). At least now I know that even if I break even on the chickens, I won't need the TV for entertainment, I'll come out ahead in garden fertility, and I won't need to spray my fruit trees with insecticides. Those chickens are tastier than the supermarket variety too ...
And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. - Gen 2:15
I started Expanding my awareness and questioning everything when I started smoking marijuana at 15 (1975). By 17, I had written many deep thoughts about who we are as humans and the direction we're going and why. At 19, I quit drinking permanently and became a vegetarian. 6 months later, I was Vegan (way before the term was coined). I liked the hippie movement. I felt that "we" weren't enough like animals. I wanted to be closer to nature. I wanted to be self sufficient, I wanted solar and hydro and to grow and can and dry my own food. I wanted to embrace the earth. At about 45 years old, I realized that I needed a farm. My brother raised cows and told me about "husbandry" and "Fukuoka". My sister mentioned permaculture to me. I started researching organic farming and permaculture. I saw my future clearer than ever before. I don't have my farm yet, but I am addicted to the concept of permaculture and I think it is the best answer to all the questions I've ever had. I think it's where I/we are meant to be..........
I wrote this poem at about 20 years old;
In a whirl-wind I've been lost, finding a place to start.
Always trying something new, to find a path with heart.
Quietly sitting and thinking a lot, the clouds are in my way.
If I could push them to the side, I'd surely see point "A".
Point "A" for me is permaculture, a path with heart......................
You can die on the bleachers or you can die on the playing field, but you can't get out of life alive
I gardened a little as a child exposed to it from my parents small endeavours in a tiny back yard garden and I loved animals and engaged in thier care . I was motivated that we individually needed to strive to be informed and take proactive steps towards what we want in our lives and on this earth by Helen Caldicotts example decades ago when I was still in my teens . In the 70's I believe I read 'Our Next Frontier' (part of the title) by Robert Rodale which is pivotal in my thinking to this day and I collected Organic Gardening magazines . But the practical thing that kicked off planting in a a half baked permaculture fashion was nothing more than being a single mom of two wee toddlers who decided to stay home on my small acreage and earn a living from home by following my passion working with horses and the need whilst going back and forth to the barn from the house, to have time to actually eat motivated me to plant food plants all the way up and down the driveway I walked between the two points.
From my perspective permaculture is more than a singularly defined thing, it is made tangible by each persons understandings , needs and actions adding to the original function of it being a design system . I think it is a universal idea as much as that of the words 'urban homestead' and the idea of copyright or patent has all the legitmacy as patenting seed genetics . Anyone can claim intellectual property for any thought but is it soley a thought or movement originated and thereby accredited by only one entity ? Certainly there are outstanding people who pioneer bringing it to the forefront . The word permaculture never really was presented to me until about 5 years ago via the internet after I was already living some of it through practical need and life experience.
I was working with a painting outfit when I told the owner what to do with himself and walked off. For the next few months, the money was pretty tight, but I got by. To improve my situation, I grew some vegetables, heated hot water with a hose lying on the ground, built a greenhouse, figured a way to use that hot water in the hose to keep the greenhouse warm, improved the garden, got some chickens, built a compost sifter, made use of bamboo for stakes, and finally went and got a job. I kept doing what I was doing, improving things here and there, using what I had available, watching how things behaved on their own, and taking advantage of that.
It was years later that I found this forum and found out I was doing permaculture things all along.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 6 years ago
I was working on a small cargo ship, and would be gone for 2 weeks at a time, and then have 2 weeks off.
Not conducive to typical summer gardening in a semi arid Mediterranean climate where summer rains were zero.
The place already had a pair of nice fig trees. I figured out that tree growing would better fit my schedule.
So, I began adding - lemons, limes, oranges to start with.
The climate was right, so pistachios, grapes and olives followed.
It just seemed like such a natural progression. Partner up with Mother Nature, rather than fighting her and the calendar.
I Started putting in a garden in Base housing last year and the soil was burnt, So I started looking for a good way to fix the soil. two google searches later i found this site. lots of good info and ideas. And we aren't going to stop once i retire then its full on at the farm.
I grew up with a Mom who had a garden and rasp berries, and my Dad planted fruit trees, so I was used to eating good food (my favorite hide-out as a kid was behind the raspberry bushes, enjoying the sweet fruit). As a young bride I became very ill from a stint working at an isolated location and not getting any fresh fruits or vegetables. The next year I learned about organic gardening, from an elderly relative, and started my journey of discovery with Ruth Stout and Fukuoka. In the early 1980s we were living on a remote property in Northern Maine, raising chickens and growing a garden, and learned about Permaculture from Mother Earth News. We purchased Permaculture 1 and II and started trying to install a small food forest. 30 years and 1/2 a dozen moves later, I am still learning and trying some of the permaculture ideas, helped greatly by my learning about the permies website and all you great folks.
A couple of years ago I moved out to the country. Right away I started a garden. It all started very traditional just like the "industry" would like you to do it. I knew inside that this was not sustainable. I needed to save seeds and plant in a way that would give me long term results. This lead me to research such things online... there I stumbled into sites like this one. I'm really only starting my journey, but I do now have a small orchard with Comfrey and a couple of Hugel beds. I know I have LOTS to learn. My next permaculture goal is to sculpt my land with swales and berms to take advantage of the limited water we get.
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
posted 6 years ago
Last fall I stumbled across Sepp Holzer videos showing how he naturally was able to push the boundaries of what would be "conventionally" possible in his region. I got his Permaculture book and was hooked from that point on. I have been almost obsessed with learning about it since!
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." ~Maori Proverb
I have been an avid gardener, recycler,bike rider, public transportation user and environmentalist for years. A few years ago, I noticed the most skilled gardeners started talking about organic gardening in a deeper way. They talked about fungal matter and bacteria, soil food web, natural predators and nature's balance, sustainability. They started referencing long-term sustainable gardening and permaculture. I checked out David Holmgren's book from the library, found the local permaculture site, this site and voila.
I was aware of permaculture since colledge, but had no land at all and the few times I tried to use land from others were a failiure. At the time I thod others should do permaculture while I was to become I biologist (wich I am now) and investigate things a la national geographic and that was enough to justify my footprint. Later I started learning about resources limits, peak oil, climate change and started seeing myself and other cientists as irrelevant if we were not also food growers or producers of other resources, I felt alone, sad and desperate, but also motivated and with a sense of urgency (still feel that way sometimes). I started studying agroecology, permaculture, biochar and other things (my summer with 100 gardening books jeje) by myself and rented a house with a small garden in a rural área, I just observed the weeds grow and insects arrive for six months before making a polyculture food garden. Today I have a new (still small) garden and give consulting services on various sustainability subjects, I am ansious about doing more with more land and resources but money is still tight, but the future looks better and I have someone who shares this passion with me.
Laziness and frustration with the lack of results from conventional gardening practices. When you want to eat something from your garden you soon become enamoured with gardening methods with high yield and low work. Now I find it the process of turning garden scrap into usable soil fascinating.
Joel Glanzberg. He gave a slide show and talk in 2000 in Durango, CO about his little permaculture oasis in New Mexico. I froze in my tracks, and realized this was everything I wanted to create on this Earth.
I still cant believe how grateful I am for that moment of inspiration. Quite a path it has lead me down, now permaculture farming my own arid oasis in Colorado for a living.
Thank you Joel!