5 Must Knows about Permaculture!
Are you a homeowner aspiring to create a beautiful truly organic landscaped garden? Perhaps you own a farm and want to reduce and remove unnecessary fertilizers and biocides. Maybe there is a vacant lot down the street that you envision as a community garden. Are you a homesteader or prepper looking to create a resilient food secure system? Do you own a commercial building and are interested in becoming green and massively reducing your energy bills?
If you resonate with any of the above-mentioned situations or if you just want to live a more resilient and stress-free life, permaculture is right up your alley.
So, what does permaculture mean? Permaculture is a portmanteau or a combination of two words: permanent and (agri)culture. I say (agri)culture because permaculture is used to both regenerate agriculture practices and land as well as social cultures in the form of communities.
Permaculture is a design science that uses nature as a template to create a landscape design that works with nature rather than against it. Permaculture uses techniques from all eras of recorded history and focuses on the techniques that require the least amount of damage and inputs. Permaculture creates resilient systems that will last beyond a lifetime improving all aspects of life.
1. Permaculture Design vs. Landscape Design
What is the difference between a Permaculture Design and Landscape Design? Well the first major difference is permaculture designers follow three important ethics. The first is Care of the Earth, the second is Care of Species and the third is Return of Surplus. Landscape designers do not follow eco-friendly universal ethics that force them to think beyond the bottom line. Permaculture designers are stewards of the land caring for the land first and fitting in what the client is looking for as an accompaniment. Landscape designers react to the clients demands and force it to work within the landscape setting up their clients for failure rather than resilience.
As I’m sure you’ve already gathered, permaculture designers are not solely fulfilling the
needs of the client, they are fulfilling the opportunity the land presents and melding in the needs of the client to fit in with what the land has to offer. During every step of the design process permaculturists are thinking about caring for the earth and all her species as well as how to return the surplus that the design will yield.
Return of surplus comes in many forms. Some of it as chop and drop, using pruned tree limbs and/or yard waste as mulch for trees and soil creation, or passing on surplus fruits and vegetables to family, friends, neighbors, or as commerce. The main point of return of surplus is to reuse and recycle all the outputs from your permaculture system on site or by sharing within your community thus minimizing waste streams out to methane producing landfills.
So overall permaculture designers use their nature senses to create a design that will benefit both the land and the client. As opposed to landscape designers who are just listening to the client and ignoring the land.
2. Lawns vs. Permaculture Systems
What’s so bad about lawns anyway? They’re “nice” to look at, they have a pretty green color, and they improve your properties aesthetics. Right? Wrong! Lawns are in fact Americas largest monocrop! That’s right, combined there is more acreage of residential grass than all the farmland in the US combined!
Basic lawn maintenance uses a lot of unnecessary energy and precious resources. They are over fertilized, over watered, riddled with disease, and constantly poisoned with biocides. Not to mention the amount of energy it takes just to produce the fertilizers and biocides is exponential.
Lawn-maintenance requires constant upkeep. This upkeep also demands the removal of important plant species also known as “weeds”, which are actually building healthy soil and providing important pollination habitats for pollinators which are a cornerstone species to healthy environments.
Lawns are the opposite of a resilient system.
So why work so hard to ruin the health of your property?
Permaculture design takes an ecological approach to yard maintenance. In fact, permaculture systems are inherently low maintenance high yielding systems. Meaning you do a whole lot less for a whole lot more!
Imagine taking a stroll through your yard and seeing beautiful butterfly’s fluttering around, hearing birds chirping all around, you’re collecting the edible leaves from edible plants to munch on during your stroll or to make a healthy salad later, you’re collecting the ripe fruit from your fruit tree guild then you take a seat under a beautiful tree soaking in the magic of nature. Imagine relaxing in a cool oasis on a hot summer day while your neighbors are forced inside because they have nothing but dead polluted grass outside.
Permaculture design creates systems that not only benefit you but creates an eco-
positive micro-ecosystem as well.
Whether you desire a beautiful yard and/or a useful one, permaculture designers can create a system for you. A permaculture system creates an ecosystem in your yard that not only supports your local environment but also can sustain you for many years.
3. Transforming your Home Garden into a Yarden
Having a home garden is a great thing to invest in. Your garden will provide you a space to destress, feed yourself, and will give you a sense of real accomplishment. But what most people find out quite quickly is the amount of upkeep the home garden requires can be overwhelming and the garden soon goes to the wayside. Another quick realization is all the pests that hone in on your perfect little garden and quickly demolish your beautiful bounty. What a nightmare! How do people do it!? Well what if I were to offer you a solution that not only massively reduced the amount of maintenance, removed pests issues all together and provided you more food than before?
Too good to be true? Not at all!
I am talking about a Yarden or perennial garden system. That’s right, a yard garden. Transforming your entire property into a resilient low maintenance high yielding system that provides you with nutrient dense food, beauty, and a biodiverse ecosystem. But wont an entire yard create more maintenance? Again, not at all. Remember permaculture is low maintenance and high yielding and when you transform your entire yard into one of diversity you gain in leaps and bounds.
Transforming a yard into a Yarden is a great way for an urbanite to create a resilient system that will produce some of their food, improve the environment, and create a sanctuary to relax and enjoy in. This is truly one of the most important things any homeowner could do.
Not only will you benefit from a Yarden but your properties resale value will be strong, especially in todays real estate market. This is the era of millennial buyers and they don’t want the typical big house, grass, neighborhood vibe. They are looking for a unique, ecofriendly, low maintenance vibe and Yardens check all the boxes! Trust me I’ve been a realtor for the past five years and I see this trend growing rapidly. I’ve even created my own niche brokerage around it: NativeJax Permaculture Design and Real Estate.
Check out my real estate page.
4. No Land? No Problem! Container Garden.
No yard to garden in? Have a concrete space you want to spruce up? Is your deck looking lonely? No problem! Container gardening is here!
Container gardening is a great way to grow anything without having to plant into the ground. It’s great for people living in condos or apartments, who have a deck or driveway, even on the roof! Container gardening offers you the ability to practice permaculture anywhere. You want to make sure you have a compost system in place so you have a good supply of soil. If you are already low on space I suggest a vermiculture system, it is super easy and effective.
Container gardening is fun and will get you started if you don’t know where to begin. All levels of gardeners should have a small container garden. I have one on my front porch and back deck. I love being surrounded by plants. I’m working on my house plants now!
5. Transforming a Monocrop system into a Resilient System
Many traditional farms are monocrop farms meaning they are only growing one crop at a time, not caring for their soil, and are poisoning their land with fertilizers and biocides. This unfortunately includes many “organic” farms as well. This style of farming causes major problems within the farming industry including unhealthy crops, bankruptcy, and suicide. Because of the lack of diversity farmers are dependent upon fertilizers and biocides to obtain a yield without their crop succumbing to pests or disease. When in fact it is totally unnecessary to use fertilizers and biocides to obtain yields. It all comes down to soil health. The healthier the soil is, the healthier the plants are in which the more nutrients the plants have and in turn the healthier we are. Soil health is the most important aspect in any garden, yarden, farm, and permaculture system.
The transformation from a monocrop farm into a permaculture-based farm system will take a few years to transition but the outcome is astounding. The health of the system skyrockets as does the yields. Pests will disappear, maintenance will be a lot less, and profits will exponentially increase. It is up to no one but the farmer to accept these new methods. Once they decide to change their point of view and open their mind they have unlimited potential.
If you would like advice, a consultation, or design work on any aspect of permaculture design or real estate I would be honored to assist you. NativeJax is based out of Northeast Florida but we are able to assist anyone anywhere. We are passionate about creating resilient landscapes in any capacity. Please feel free to reach out to us for any of your permaculture needs.
We also offer online classes to educate you on implementing permaculture.
Thank you and Happy Yardening!
Founder | Designer | Broker