If you’ve read anything about growing veggies in your back garden or had Gardening Australia in the background while cooking dinner on a Friday night, you’re bound to have heard the term ‘permaculture’. This approach to agriculture is as much of a philosophy as a method – it emphasises food production in harmony with the natural cycles of the seasons, reducing the use of synthetic chemicals, and a cyclical system using nature’s own ecosystems to benefit both people, animals and the environment.
Bill Mollison is a Tasmanian gardener and coined the term in the late 1970s. While permaculture principles have been a part of human agriculture for many thousands of years, it was through Bill that the modern world rediscovered this time-tested approach to food production.
“The conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”
For example, a permaculture gardener may keep free range chickens, which roam the vegetable patches and leave their manure as a natural fertiliser, and also eat any bugs which eliminates the need for harsh pesticides. Egg shells are composted, along with any vegetable scraps which then are returned to the land to help new growth – and the chooks may get to enjoy some veggie offcuts too.
All components of a permaculture system are carefully considered to form a mutually beneficial relationship with one another and a healthy, natural ecosystem.