Ecology–Permaculture: Obtain and Apply

Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. The principles of permaculture invite us, if they do nothing else, into ongoing conversations:  with the land and soil, with plants and trees, with animals and other human beings, even with the minerals of this Earth.  We become aware of the take and give.  When I garden using permaculture principles, the third principle acknowledges that I will “obtain a yield” and the fourth that I must choose to “regulate myself and accept feedback.”

We harvested from our herb spiral last summer enough to use through the winter and to share with others.  These below still remain.  We saw our strawberry plants more than triple in number, and so we anticipate quite a harvest of berries this next summer.  The spiral also required some self-regulation.  I wanted to plant about twice the number of plants that I did simply because more is always better, right?  Not in a permaculture garden.  In fact, if we practice the right kind of self-restraint, the permaculture landscape will produce an abundance–on its own terms. Those terms always align with the natural patterns of the Earth herself.


These principles call us to deep listening.  Listen to the land.  Listen to the garden space. Listen to the plants.  Listen to one’s own body when it comes to eating.  Listen to what farming practices to do the land, to plants, to animals, to people.  Listen to what we stand to gain.  Listen to what we are called to release for the good of other beings.  Listen to the experience of others.

This is our challenge.  If you tell me that deep listening calls you the vegan path, I must honor you and your path.  If you tell me that deep listening calls you to choose only animal and plant food that has been humanely and ethically raised, I must honor you and your path.  An ethical ecology listens deeply, cares for the Earth, cares for people and all beings, and stands for a fair share for each.  Without doubt, this kind of deep listening will ask me to let go of a narrow minded certainty that almost always does harm.  Permaculture is cultivating an enduring life for all, and it requires us all to listen deeply.

Bob Patrick

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