Farming and growing stuff is just one facet of permaculture. It tends to be the one most people focus on because it's a huge topic. Permaculture is a model for living in harmony with everything else, and observing natural processes so that they can teach us how to achieve this harmony.
Economics, business, construction, education and technology can all be structured within a permaculture framework. The society we live in today is a result of a hundred years of development at the hands of billions of people. Permaculture on the other hand is in its infancy by comparison. If an area you are interested in doesn't have any permaculture related information you can find it likely means that the explorers, innovators, and inventors haven't gotten around to it yet.
For something more practical, maybe consider the value-add link in the farm to consumer chain. You've worked in that area before and have intimate knowledge of the standard process. A typical permaculture farm has many small revenue streams as opposed to one big one. There needs to be an efficient way to take all of these outputs, process them into desirable consumer products, and feed back the bi-product / waste streams into production again such that everyone benefits economically.
There are many places in hospitality where waste streams can be turned into income streams, and where materials and goods sourcing can be done from the standpoint of permacultural design to increase overall longterm system efficiency, and as a sales pitch to those looking to spend their hospitality dollars where they benefit sustainability in the community.
Lets take a hotel business as an example. If there were two hotels in comparable situations, each having equivalent overheads and cashflow, and one was to put in a grey water system to flush toilets and water the landscaping, that one would pay significantly less per month for water.
There are other changes in the nature of retrofits that would yield cost savings, but many are within the realm of increasing system efficiency, or involve the ground-up design of a building to higher environmental standards.
Also, if you enjoy learning and teaching, and if permaculture interests you, I could see it being enjoyable and rewarding to teach permaculture. You might find yourself having to design classroom-scale experiments and experimental models, but you could teach permaculture to children and young people who would otherwise be playing in the dirt anyways.
I am curious, Alan. What do you not like about the idea of being a farmer or a gardener? I mean, I know it's not for everyone, but there are so many different aspects to farming and gardening. Surely you don't hate everything about every aspect of farming and gardening, do you?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Alan, thank you for bringing this topic up.
David Holmgren, the co-originator of the term "permaculture", referred to the domains of permaculture as is illustrated by his "permaculture flower". Once one is initiated into & begins to see the world through the lens of the "permaculture paradigm", so-to-speak, one can begin to see how the practices, ethics & principles of permaculture can be applied to pretty much any facet of life. The domains include:
∙ Tools & Technology,
∙ Education & Culture,
∙ Health & Spiritual Well-being,
∙ Finance & Economics,
∙ Land Tenure & Community Governance,
∙ Land & Nature Stewardship.
Education is essential to permaculture & is the basis of the reasoning behind the Permaculture Design Course (PDC). Bill Mollison was a top-notch professor, as are many people who today teach PDCs.
I have friends in the hospitality industry who, for example, are doing everything in their power to move their workplace to zero waste. When you see composting practices or paper straws at these places, for example, I think we can say that they are moving towards the "permaculture paradigm". Additionally, one doesn't have to be a landscaper to advocate for more conscious holistic regenerative design in the landscaping of a school or hotel. And, even more exciting, these institutions are being moved towards this abundance paradigm by folks who may or may not even know the word "permaculture".
Even as an avid gardener / farmer, I somewhat cringe when I hear permaculture being stereotyped as just a set of gardening or a farming techniques.
I guess the title of this thread was a bit more provocative than literally true, but I have no interest in gardening or farming, whilst I acknowledge their importance. There are many things that interest me just not them. As well as my trades I am also interested in building and appropriate technology more generally.
I have been on Permies and have followed Paul's journey for some years now and it struck me that seldom are the central issues confronted at the Lab a result of agricultural problems, even if most of the time is spent on them (and construction)
I am sure that there is a place for many of the existing professions in a permaculture future. Personally I am unwilling to go without a decent medical system, the rule of law and order etc.
David Holmgren's retrofitting suburbia has some interesting things to say (reterosuburbia looks interesting but I haven't read it yet).
Surely there is a place for specialization in any future as without it how can we develop the excellence needed to come up with good solution to problems. Here I think of Ernie and Erica as two shining examples.
I will open the floodgates of his own worst nightmare! All in a tiny ad: