Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Permaculture: It's not just for hippies and homesteaders anymore

James Islander Shirley Brown has turned her front yard into a permaculturist's 
dream with productive plants  and a sustainably designed garden.

Permaculture may conjure up images of drum circles and people of the patchouli persuasion, but it's much more than a hippie lifestyle handbook. In fact, many people are practicing its principles without even realizing it. If you've recycled, composted, planted a garden, bartered with a neighbor, or canned vegetables, you are already on the road to becoming a permaculturalist. Although the definition is as ever-changing as the environment it seeks to imitate, permaculture is an ecological design system that aims to create efficiency using three main tenets: take care of the earth, take care of the people, and share the surplus. In practice it can take the form of solar panels, straw bale houses, bicycles, aquaponics, backyard chickens, or rain barrels, and it's often associated with homesteading.

At the most recent meeting of the Charleston Permaculture Guild, attendees ranged in age from 20 to over 60, a diverse group of people who work in affordable housing, agriculture, medicinal herbs, and computer science. The common thread among the group is learning how to utilize permaculture principles to help themselves and others live more efficiently, with a smaller footprint, and with increased self-sufficiency.

Chris Carnevale, a co-founder of the guild, admits that he was surprised at the mix of people that attend Charleston meetings compared to the more granola audience he saw in Colorado. "Our membership is over 120 people, and it is very diverse. Our members are looking for practical solutions." (Read further: Source)