Permaculture from the natives of Europa
The indigenous peoples of Europe were skilled in arable farming and animal husbandry, long before industrial farming moved in from the east. How else could there have been stable agrarian communities of from the bronze age through to the Roman invasions? Were the iron age Celts always at war with each other, or did they learn to convert ploughs to weapons in order to protect their lands and culture from well-organized invading armies operating under alien principles? We can never know for sure. These ancient people left no written records and their monuments and tombs were destroyed – some intriguing petroglyphs remain, of the exact same design as those found in Cornwall, Crete, Goa and other places. Who wrote the history of the peoples of Europa, anyway?
Farming itself did not originate in the Fertile Crescent, but industrial farming, as it is practiced across the world today probably did. The followers of the desert religions had no reverence for Nature; their aim was to dominate Nature. They systematically cleared forests, razed the land, murdered and bribed the elders and leaders and enslaved the peasants to build the mega-cities that give us the model of civilization today. A few weeks ago we drove across southern Spain, through miles and miles of red ploughed fields, with no villages or signs of life to be seen. A showcase for industrial farming, the land raped by ghost machines. We had to wonder where all that grain ended up.
Permaculture is contemporary practical paganism. If you work with Nature, learn from it, respect and love it, you live like a pagan, regardless of your beliefs. Pagans was a derogatory term for non-Christians and I have no problem with it, but it tends to imply some kind of worship and I don’t worship anything, so heathen is a better fit.
Bill Mollison first outlined five Principles of Permaculture in 1988:
1. Work with nature rather than against (assist, don’t fight against, natural development).
2. The problem is the solution (everything can be a positive resource if we know how to utilize it).
3. Make the least change for the greatest possible effect.
4. The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited (yield is only by the information and imagination of the designer).
5. Everything gardens (or has an effect on its environment).
I would add two more core principles to that, to put things into today’s context:
- Feed yourself, in mind body and spirit
- Protect what you love
Permaculture began as a horticultural movement in Tasmania in the 1970s, arising out of the observation that conventional farming is not sustainable, as it ultimately destroys the soil and the ecosystem. Since then the term ‘permaculture’ has come to mean many different things to different people. It has made no impact on the farming industry, not because of any lack of soundness regarding permaculture principles, but because worldwide agriculture is owned by the companies that sell seed, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and the major food retailers that control the supply chain. Small, organic farmers cannot get their produce to consumers, unless they are located near upmarket urban populations with attractive farmers markets. Supermarkets push farmers into poverty in order to cut prices to gain ‘market share’, while half the food that is produced in the US and nearly a third in the EU is wasted.
Meanwhile, the UN has hijacked the term ‘sustainable development’ as part of Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 for their vision of a socialist utopia, in which the elites own and control all the natural resources and decide what you can have and do, to save the planet. That means they get fresh organic food and clean unfluoridated water and you get GMO, poisoned water and processed food that could well be made from the millions of children that go missing worldwide every year and are never found. There is growing evidence of permaculture communities being infected by social justice warriors and cultural marxism, although the decentralised and fragmented nature of the movement gives it some protection against this infection. However, the permaculture movement is unlikely to get the traction needed to make the agriculture and food giants surrender their control and change their practices. Permaculture will always operate on the margins of society, which is not such a bad thing when you consider where society is headed.
Why ‘do’ permaculture?
We are moving into very unsettled times with more extreme weather as the Grand Solar Minimum unfolds, civil unrest, higher fuel prices and economic instability contributing to further crop losses and increasingly expensive poisoned food. If you have the time space to grow your own food, adopting permaculture principles is a really good way to develop long-term self-reliance, as you take care of yourself and your family in a healthy and wholesome way. It’s not a ‘quick-fix’, but it will enable you to learn so much more than just how to grow your own food. But. let’s assume you have arrived at this page because you are already interested in permaculture. What next?
Our approach here is driven by self-reliance and our desire to learn how to take care of our basic needs, rather than have some one else do that for us.
We enjoy learning through experimentation, trial and error, adjustment, retrial and more error and intense observation, contemplation and action.
We’re not interested in farming here – somehow that seems like a continuation of the problem. Gardening, especially according to permaculture principles, is very different to farming. It’s not a job; it’s much more of a vocation and a pleasure. After six years we are now growing a lot of our own vegetables and we begging to work on landscaping for pleasure and beauty. We are also learning a great deal about how the land and even the weather respond to our activities, intentions and feelings. We are becoming more and more weather-wise and I feel that this is a necessity if we want to survive climate change.
Permaculture-alchemy is a recognition of the fact that humans are a permanent part of the landscape and that our activities will always have corresponding changes in the local environment. The correspondence is inevitable and indelible, regardless of the fact that it has been largely invisible to most of the human inhabitants of the planet so far. Correction and regeneration grows fractally; as we bring ourselves into balance within ourselves and within our local environment, so the whole system comes more into balance too. So, despite the sure fact that life in general will only get more chaotic, I’m optimistic about our future.
In the strict sense, in order to be able to grow things we can actually eat now, our garden tends more towards perennial poly-culture than a food forest. I’ll be writing more on how and why we’re made these choices, but generally it’s because a food forest is not productive enough within a time-frame that is useful for us.
My posts on Heathen Permaculture related subjects are listed below.
Heathen permaculture outreach
We don’t offer any courses or certificates, we are learning as we go on. We welcome interest from kindred spirits who want to get some practical experience and have some skills to offer.
We take volunteers from May-September, see our Permaculture Experience in Galicia pagefor more information.