Permaculture is still very new concept in India. At AyurYoga Eco-Ashram, we are trying to implement 12 principles of Permaculture in designing the 20 acres campus. Also we would like to invite expert Permaculture trainers to offer courses/training in our campus. Any help with volunteers is welcome.
Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how to design natural homes and abundant food production systems, regenerate degraded landscapes and ecosystems, develop ethical economies and communities, and much more. As an ecological design system, permaculture focuses on the interconnections between things more than individual parts.
Food Forests and Guilds
Food Forests mimic the architecture and beneficial relationships between plants and animals found in a natural forest or other natural ecosystem. Food forests are not “natural”, but are designed and managed ecosystems (typically complex perennial polyculture plantings) that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity.
Guilds are a combination of plants, animals, insects, fungi, and even people. Guilds can be found in healthy ecosystems, and can be designed and planted to make your food forest, garden, pasture, woodlot, or community healthier and more productive. Each guild participant contributes something valuable to the entire composition. For example, most plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, other nutrients, and pest control for healthy growth. By combining food plants with nitrogen fixing plants, nutrient accumulators, and beneficial insect attractors, one can design and build a thriving edible ecosystem that reduces work and inputs on behalf of the gardener.
Poultry and Backyard Animals
Animals (including birds and wildlife) are a critical component of any sustainable ecosystem, as without their participation and contribution ecological integrity is diminished. Everything gardens in nature, and animals are in a leadership position. Foraging is needed to cycle nutrients, clear fallen fruit, keep weeds down, eat and spread seeds, and eat pests. It turns out food gardens need similar services, and by building timely and creative relationships between domestic/wild animals and food plants, much of the work of producing food can be accomplished through good design.
In permaculture we strive to design landscapes to absorb rainwater. This is not only a good idea for dry climates, but is also very important in places with plentiful moisture. Why – because rainwater is best maximized when allowed to infiltrate into the soil. There it is available to plants, is naturally cleansed and filtered by soil biology, and enters the groundwater to enrich the hydrological cycle. Rainwater harvesting is an alternative to designing our outdoor environments to shed runoff, where it rushes down hillsides, streets, and roadways, causing erosion and carrying pollution directly into waterways. Rainwater harvesting can be practiced by channeling runoff through earthworks into the soil, or capturing runoff from roofs or other hard surfaces to be stored in cisterns. The former is simpler and less costly; the latter allows you to have access to running water during dry spells.
Designing for Multiple Functions
Many examples can be drawn to illustrate this basic ecological principle, which reminds us to always capitalize on the investment of work and resources. Everything should serve multiple functions through design. It can be as simple as a water collection cistern creating a warm micro climate or as complex as a road channeling cooling winds to a home, while draining runoff to an orchard, simultaneously acting as a fire defense line, all the while providing access to a property.
Heirloom Plant Varieties and Animal Breeds
Due to industrialization and centralization of agriculture we are losing significant amounts of plant varieties and animal breeds at an alarming rate. Permaculture design for gardens and farms takes a particular focus on utilizing and preserving heirloom plants and animals to keep them thriving through use. Permaculture, when applied to agriculture, creates complete systems where seeds are saved on-site and animals are allowed to breed to reduce reliance on increasingly conglomerated agricultural suppliers.
Permaculture addresses the health of watersheds, as clean and running water is a primary necessity of human culture. Reversing the process of landscape degradation and pollution, permaculture design strategies repair watersheds, purifying water, reducing flood danger, slowing erosion, and increasing water availability. More often than not, the ability to accomplish these lofty goals lies in the patterns of the watershed itself. In permaculture we say,”the problem is the solution”, and in degraded watersheds the problem is erosion, which often exposes bare rock. This bare rock, rearranged in appropriate ways, is used as the solution to halt erosion, increase infiltration, and reestablish vegetation, leading to clear flowing water once again.
What if the design and construction of a building could improve the ecological health of the ecosystem where it is sited? This is what permaculture strives to do through architectural design. Using natural and local materials, permaculture helps you design and build structures that are both strikingly beautiful and sustainable. Permaculture has a solid foundation in climate specific design, using biological resources before technological solutions; designed structures often use the sun for heating, and breezes and vegetation for cooling. A permaculture-designed building might feature a wind blocking woodlot to assist in heat retention (through slowing wind speeds) and heat generation (through firewood), or a pond on the sun side to reflect sunlight indoors reducing needs for heating and lighting.
Waste is turned from pollution to a resource through permaculture design. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “weeds are a plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered”. In permaculture, waste is a resource whose functions have yet to be uncovered. This is the attitude of the permaculture designer, as he or she creates composting systems for kitchen waste or human waste. Beautiful homes are built from reclaimed and recycled materials, and wastewater is returned to the landscape for productivity.
Since permaculture focuses on the connections between things more than the parts, the design of resilient economies relies on each contributor to build a strong network. Many small businesses and contributors are valued over a few larger corporations. Decentralization of money flow allows money exchange a chance to slow, spread, and infiltrate into the local community. Strong economies are built from empowered individuals who supply needs of the local community, while meeting many of their own needs in the same community. Local business alliances and alternative currencies are sometimes used to facilitate this web weaving.