Permaculture: A New Way of Growing
Permaculture is a term created in 1978 by Bill Mollison and one of his students, David Holmgren. Bill Mollison is an Australian ecologist who combined the words "permanent" and "agriculture." Holmgren and he defined permaculture as: "An integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man." (Holmgren xix).A newer definition of permaculture that Holmgren mentions in his book is "Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber, and energy for the provision of local needs." (Holmgren xix).Both definitions leave room for the evolution of the agricultural system. Conventional methods of agriculture deplete the land and its productivity over a period of time and remove beneficial interactions by excessive chemical dependence for pest control and fertilization. Employment of permacultural techniques, however, allows the farmer to not only grow healthy food, but also serve many other purposes at the same time: reduced chemical dependence as well as soil erosion while actually contributing to maintain productive, healthy soil to name only a few.
Permaculture is about growing plants using the environment, and encouraging the restoration of balance in the environment. It is a technique that co-operates with the land and the environment, nurtures it to grow healthy food instead of abusing or forcing it to be productive. It aims to create an ecological system that is efficient, self-sustaining and productive, at the same time also in harmony with the environment. It can be used with either commercial agriculture or domestic agriculture.
While the benefits of permaculture are several, there are two sides to the issue. The other view, besides Mollison’s, is "that their [permaculturists] core ideas on the productivity of mature ecosystems are both unsubstantiated and contradict ecological theory" (Williams 90). This argument also states that the permaculture experiments are unscientific (Williams 91). Another critic of permaculture says, "permaculture suffers because it can't be defined in a sound bite - the kiss of death in a fast-food culture" (Hemenway 4).
Permaculture has many techniques, as it is a constantly evolving concept. "Permaculture uses ecological knowledge to develop a set of principles for sustainability" (Janchitfah et al 14). For examples, Rod May of Australia converted to organic farming instead of becoming chemically dependent. Along with his conversion to organic farming, he also began incorporating concepts of permaculture into his farm (Janchitfah et al 11-14). He said, "I would have given up farming rather than adopt the chemical-intensive, high-tech systems I witnessed in the US…We survived by farming with nature. I didn't want to become a debt-driven, factory farmer producing industrial commodities" (Janchitfah et al 11)
An important fact to mention...