Ecology: Permaculture

Long before I ever heard the term “permaculture” I was drawn to the earth, to the soil, to the woods and sky, trees and birds and earthworms.  I grew up in a rural community where we had large spaces for gardens, and I had family whose lifelong habit was to work with the earth to grow much of our own food.  In every home I’ve lived in since those days, mostly urban and suburban, to go outside and begin to work with the land around our house has seemed as necessary to me as breathing.

How do we work with this Earth, or even the yard of our homes in ethical and principled ways that observe and join in the patterns that nature has long established?  One of my favorite permaculture sites offers us 12 principles that relate interchangeably with three sets of relationships:  Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.

You can read more about each, but allow just the names of these principles to invite you to inquire about the extent to which you practice caring for the Earth, People and Fair sharing:  1. Observe and interact; 2. catch and store energy; 3. obtain a yield; 4. apply self regulation and accept feedback; 5. use and value renewable resources and services; 6. produce no waste; 7. design from patterns to details; 8. integrate rather than segregate; 9. use small and slow solutions; 10. use and value diversity; 11. use edges and value the marginal; 12. creatively use and respond to change.

As we focus on Ecology this month, I invite you to explore permaculture as one way of entering a practice, a spiritual path that makes ecology a way of life that is in harmony with our Unitarian Universalist principles extended to all beings and being on this our “blue boat home.”

Bob Patrick

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