26 March 2009

permaculture applies

[Image: Chelsea Green via Treehugger

If there's one thing I want to focus on from a permaculture class I attended last weekend it's this: start small and intensively.

The principles of permaculture can apply to gardening, but they don't have to. Starting out small and intensive is good for any endeavor and -- like planting a small, easy-to-maintain garden -- is about not taking on too much at once and nurturing what's right in front of you. For instance, I'm building my new website (where this here blog will be moving) and I'm juggling too many elements at a time. It can be really discouraging. I've put too much on my plate. But after the concept of small-scale intensive gardening entered my little brain I realized, oh, I should apply this to my website. I'm now going to introduce small bites at a time. I'm going to practice patience by not launching the whole project all at once. I'm planting the seeds and waiting to see what takes.

Some might see permaculture as some new age gardening thing. But really, it is the very embodiment of sustainability. It's defined by the Permaculture Institute as "an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more." The much more part is applying it to all of our actions, including building websites.

On a related note...

A little birdy sent me this article in the New York Times about a guy in Jackson, Mississippi who practices "slow gardening." I think it's just another way to say "permaculture," though I guess it doesn't matter what you call it. It just makes sense. Lawns don't make sense. If you have land, grow food on it. And we don't have to return to a full-scale agrarian society to grow food on our little plots of land called yards. Start small, and intensively.

There's also this thing called SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) farming that I read about a year or so ago. I think it couldn't have come at a better time. It's a way of creating an income from food your grow in your own backyard. You don't have to have a 100-acre farm to grow and sell produce. Just remember, start small and build on your successes.