Friday, November 6, 2009

Use Edges and Value the Marginal - Holmgren's Permaculture Principle #11

Many people who have taken my classes have asked me what permaculture is. This is the definition used on David Holmgren's web site. Holmgren, along with Bill Mollison were the co-originators of the concept and they coined the term "permaculture".
A more current definition of permaculture, which reflects the expansion of focus implicit in Permaculture One, is 'Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.

The application of permaculture is based on a set of principles. Holmgren lists 12. The best way to get an understanding of permaculture is to study applied examples of these principles. The website has lots of photos and descriptions. It is very important to understand that these are principles that can be applied in any climate or location. They were originally developed in the dry environment of Australia. How they are applied there is very different from how many of the principles are applied here in the humid rainy southeastern U.S. You must understand the intent of the principle so you can apply it properly to get the maximum benefit.
I have decided to start a series of posts that illustrate the principles in action. These posts will be in no particular order. As I do something here at The Funny Farm that illustrates one of them I will post it. While I have never taken any permaculture training courses my 35 years of practice as a landscape architect has ingrained them into my soul and influenced all my work. Everything we do follows one or more of them.

So, today I added a Fuji and a Gala apple tree to our orchard. We now have 4 varieties of apples. I planted them along the edge of the drainage swale that carries storm water from the street down into the woods below us allowing it to return to the watertable being cleaned up by the soil food web along the way. Behind the swale is a wild area that serves has habitat for birds and insects that will help to control pests in our little orchard. beyond that are beds of perennial vegetables. Sunchokes, asparagus, leeks and herbs. Further up the hill are the remaining apple trees. The new trees are close enough to the older trees to serve as additional pollinators for each other.
The edge between the wild and cultivated spaces will now be more productive with the addition of the trees.


Robbyn said...

I just love the taste of Fujis :) I'm interested in seeing how yours do...I can't seem to read up enough on permaculture, and hope we can put it into practice more soon in ways you're already doing

duane marcus Facebook me! said...

Robbyn, I'll let you know how the fuji does. I will be several years before it starts to produce I imagine.
Permaculture is a good tool for thinking about how to get the most out of the land.