Saturday, January 11, 2014

A permaculture life?

Hello and welcome to everyone visiting from Purple Pear Farm, where Kate has been kind enough to link to this blog. I've been reading through her blog and musing on the meaning of permaculture.

In my local collective garden here in Brussels, there are a small number of potager gardens (the closest thing to an allotment here, but a fraction of the size - less than a metre square). One of the conditions of being allocated on of these potagers is that you have to observe the rules of permaculture as it is understood here. This means that you can sow seeds, but are not allowed to remove weeds, hoe, turn the soil, or add compost or fertiliser. Permaculture here is defined as planting stuff and then leaving it entirely alone.

This is not quite the same concept as I've seen expressed elsewhere. As far as I know, permaculture in the English-speaking world is based around practices which are sustainable and could be maintained permanently. This definition allows a more active human role, something akin to stewardship perhaps, where you can manage the soil by ensuring that manure or compost replaces the nutrients taken up by plants etc. (Please forgive any inaccuracies here - I'm no gardener!)

The kind of simple life that I - and I'm guessing you my readers - are trying to built is very much based along the same principles, but in different ways (financial, emotional, physical). Make sure your spending is at a sustainable level, that you can match what goes out with what comes in. Built relationships and communities which nourish rather than numb or drain one another. While we all work hard, either at home or in the workplace, we need to make sure that we get the food, sleep, exercise, and down time to keep ourselves physically and mentally healthy to continue working the next day.

What I like about this concept of permaculture (at least as I've understood it) is that it is about balance. It doesn't mean not spending on the things that matter, but making sure that spending can be sustained not just in the short term while you have an income but in the far less predictable long term. Living without possessions may work for some, but the important thing is that your life is not drowning in clutter. This seems a good way to evaluate what I'm trying to do here - not am I living simply, or even am I living simply enough, but am I living in a way that I can continue to enjoy and thrive indefinitely? And I think the answer to that is definitely yes!


  1. I think you have quite a good grasp of what permaculture is all about. certainly for me it is much more than gardening but includes a shift in thinking about the way we live our whole life. I think I will enjoy visiting you here.

  2. Thanks, good to know I'm not too far off in my grasp of the concept. It's not one I've really thought about before in terms of life as a whole, but one I think meriting further thought.

  3. Hello Nickie, I'm here via Kate's post. I agree, you have a good understanding of the meaning of permaculture. It seems to me that in the potagers, they're taking permaculture as a literal meaning. I think, like Kate, that permaculture encompasses the lifestyle of the gardeners as well.

    Balance it a great target to aim for in most things. I'll be back later to read more of your posts. :- )

    1. Thanks. Balance is great to aim at but much easier said than done!



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