Ecology–Permaculture: Observe, Interact, Catch and Store

Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.  These three relationships of permaculture principles reflect our Unitarian Universalist principles, not the least of which are our respect for the dignity of all beings and our recognition of the interdependent web of all existence.

The first two principles of permaculture speak to caring for the earth, caring for people and insuring a justice and equity in all things.  They are fundamental:  1) observe and interact;  2) catch and store.

Last year, as a next step into permaculture, we built an herb spiral at our house.  I had learned how to build the spiral, but the first step was to spend time observing and interacting with our yard, the space into which we might build the spiral.  What do you know about the beings and the space, the environment, into which you wish to interject yourself?  It’s a helpful principle whether we are talking about building a new garden or having a conversation with another person.  Observe first–then, interact in accord with what you observe365

The second principle is really about what we value.  When we observe our surrounds and the beings in them, how can we “catch” the value?  How can we safeguard and make good use of the value without doing violence?  I can plant a bunch of stuff in my yard and spray it with pesticides and chemical fertilizers and produce an immediately beautiful garden, but I may, in the process, fail to see the value of the land and surrounding animals who will be slowly poisoned by the run-off from my yard.


The herb spiral is built in such a way that we can use composted materials to create a deep and sustainable container of rich soil, and the spiral gathers rainfall and holds water well so that I never have to water the plants growing in the spiral.  No fertilizer.  No extra water. No poison.


Finding the right place; joining my efforts with the earth and other beings; respecting and preserving natural resources.  These principles of permaculture work in all of our human interactions.  Observe.  Interact.  Catch.  Store.  Earth care. People care.  Fair share.

Bob Patrick


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3 Responses to Ecology–Permaculture: Observe, Interact, Catch and Store

  1. Lorena Griffin says:

    Love the spiral. It’s really beautiful

  2. Bob Patrick says:

    Thanks, Lorena. It was such fun to build, and I cannot express in words what growing things in it was this past year. I can hardly wait for spring to take action this year. Last year we had chives, three kinds of mind, thyme, parsley, sage, strawberries, and petunias. All but the petunias will come back in abundance this next year. It took such small space and created both abundance of items for our table (physical) and our souls (beauty)–for half a year! I never watered the spiral at all. Tadpoles grew into frogs in the small water container at the end. I’m thinking about a water lilly there for next year.

  3. Bonni DeMarco says:

    This is moving. Thank you for sharing.

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