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Permaculture Design

In addition to critical practices we employ at SweetSoil, smart Permaculture Design is our underlying impetus.

Permaculture is sustainable land-use design based on ecologically-sound principles and ethics. Its aim is harmonizing habitats and inhabitants within sustainable cultural, food, shelter, energy, water, and waste systems that both restore degraded ecosystems and produce resources.
When we say that we practice permaculture, it means that we’ve stepped into a new way of relating to and interacting with nature. We look to see how nature works. If after all this time nature has persisted, she’s proved her tools are successful over quick fixes. So we observe nature and we ask questions like, “How does nature water?”, “How does nature make a garden?”, “How does nature handle cattle, chickens, droughts?”

In sum, we look to the patterns of nature for successful, regenerative, holistic solutions. We base our designs on principles we find repeated again and again in nature. Principles like spreading, slowing, and sinking water, for instance is always far more efficient than rushing water in a straight line to the ocean. Rain goes a long way in the farm or garden when it sheets off the roof, gets shuttled to a holding tank, and is released to slither through the backyard.  Or, even better, when the rain caught in a keyline pond and is held there until dry, late summer when it’s released to irrigate acres of land under baking sun. All with rain!

With this powerful design tool, we sculpt all your systems into a symphonic ecosystem that builds soil, boosts production, decreases work, holds water, and nurtures happy cows and happy humans!

Permaculture unties the two words “Perma,” as in “permanent” meaning *regeneration, and “culture,” as in both agri-culture and people culture. Permaculture is a holistic way of designing everything from farm systems to backyard systems, to human systems. Coined by two remarkable visionaries and scholars, David Holmgren and Bill Mollison, Permaculture is governed by ethics that benefit people and the earth in union. Any student who’s ever taken a Permaculture Design Course will conclude that the way they see the world has radically changed:

It has truly has changed the way I look at the world around me… I highly recommend anyone taking this course whether you want to apply it just to your personal life or if you want to go big and spread it around the world. It’s truly a life changing experience.” -B. Ryan, SweetSoil’s SayPermaculture Permaculture Design Course Graduate. Click here- for more quotes and course listings.

In looking at the solutions nature has to offer, we come to find the way we “modern” humans do nearly everything is completely against the flow of nature. A permaculturist will observe that human cultures have gotten far away from working like nature and in doing so we throw away much energy (cheap oil) fighting against nature.  Systems that do not work like nature collapse every time, guaranteed.

Take our prime example: Monocultures.

When we strip our land bare to make way for our crop of corn, problems hit from the get go. We’ve got to use herbicides and machinery to get rid of weeds. We’ve got to battle bugs, virus, and weeds trying to crowd out our corn throughout the growing season. We’ve got to use so much water to feed our corn it’d be impossible for us to pay for it alone, so our government has to subsidy it. And then we’ve got to use more expensive machinery we still haven’t begun to pay for after years when we harvest. By the time everything is sold and paid for, we’ve just broken even.

This is surely not the path nature would take, how could she? Nature’s never built or used heavy machinery, never relied upon fossil fuels to ship her fruits. Nature never strips her land bare to expose her top soil to wind and water, washing her precious nutrients out to sea, nutrients that have taken years and years to build.

With a vision of holistic design and decision-making, sites fit together fluidly, just as they do in a healthy ecosystem. No external feed or fertilizers are needed- a healthy ecosystem has those inputs built into the system. With polyculture systems (growing more than one type of plant or animal), we harvest all year long. And if the market is down in citrus, we cash in on our mulberry crop. In this way systems can replant, replenish, and regulate themselves.

Permaculture is all about seeing how everything is connected to everything else. This is a huge boon to farmers and homeowners alike. An amalgamation of practices, we use permaculture to design each site according to its own resources and landforms.

Imagine all the systems we can string together at your site to yield new products you’ve never even thought of! The problems become the solutions. Each site yields abundances and wastes that can be transformed into abundance for you and your family. And since each permaculture design is catered to your site and your wishes, the yields also become individualized to maximize quality of life, as well as market price.

*We define the word “sustainable” as that which is just eking by and not creating anything new. We see that the Earth needs a lot of healing and it’s going to take regenerating lands to sustain life now and in the future by building top soil, holding water, and sequestering carbon. The Earth’s population of humans and animals can’t get by on what we have currently. We’ve got to go beyond sustainability.

Just as equal to regenerating and making sense of land design, permaculture is interested in forging compassionate and helpful human connections. If the technologies we use at SweetSoil resonate with you, give us a call and we would love to talk more! 626-278-8299