Permaculture is a set of ideas and agricultural practices helping promote sustainability and resilience. It encourages the natural building of homes and communities, and encourages the restoration and development of robust, healthy ecosystems, utilizing lessons of stability and diversity that come from nature.
In March, permaculture experts from all over the world will gather in California for the Permaculture Voices Conference. The Conference is a four-day event taking place March 13-16, 2014 in Temecula, California, and is designed to inspire attendees and promote change about the potential of permaculture to transform food systems.
This conference will feature many world-renowned speakers, including keynote speakers Elaine Ingham, a soil microbiologist who aids farmers in growing more resilient crops; Geoff Lawton, managing director of the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia (PRI Australia) who won the Humanitarian Water & Food Award in 2010 for the initiative “Greening the Desert;” Joel Salatin, a third generation farmer-activist who has authored eight books on farming; Allan Savory, a farmer, game rancher, politician and founder of The Savory Institute; and Paul Wheaton, “The Duke of Permaculture” who operates a permaculture forum. I’m also honored to be speaking on a panel with author and food expert, Michael Pollan. Michael’s most recent book “Cooked” talks about the power the four elements— fire, earth, water, and air — in transforming food.
To celebrate the potential of permaculture, today, Food Tank highlights ten projects that embrace permaculture practices worldwide.
1) HASERA Agriculture Research and Training Center (HASERA) — Located in Sharma Patalekhet, Nepal, the HASERA Research and Training Center is an international research and education site for permaculture and organic agriculture. This center focuses on teaching visitors and community members the importance of sharing resources and has been delivering technical, social, and economic backing for the planning and execution of development activities. Govinda Sharma founded HASERA in 1990 with the goal of developing the Patalekhet village as a model eco-village.
2) IDEP Foundation — IDEP is an Indonesian non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Bali, Indonesia. IDEP was founded in 1999 and is focused on developing and delivering training, community programs, and media related to sustainable development through permaculture. According to IDEP, “the Permaculture approach is an important alternative that moves forward in producing healthy organic plantations, home garden designs, more efficient village layouts, healthier environments, alternative energy production methods, and sustainable economic development.”
3) Istituto Italiano di Permacultura (IIP) — The IIP is working to promote permaculture in Italy through project consultancy, education, and publication. The idea behind the IIP is to design resilient settlements with the diversity and stability of natural ecosystems. This project will be promoting permaculture at community councils and to public and private companies in order to “redesign the Italian landscape and the environmental development.”
4) Never Ending Food — During their work with the Peace Corps, Stacia and Kristof Nordin were introduced to permaculture in Malawi, Africa. They were quickly infected with the philosophy of interconnectedness between all living things and the importance of food production to improve nutrition, preserve biodiversity, and improve soil fertility. Today, the couple continues to live in Malawi, with their daughter, and their house serves as a permaculture demonstration plot, where they practice permaculture every day. Their blog, Never Ending Food, is dedicated to the dissemination of permaculture ideas and practices. According to the Nordins, “the Permaculture approach has been ideal for implementation at the community level because it uses all existing resources.”
5) Permaculture Association of South Australia Incorporated (PASA) — PASA is a non-profit organization based in Adelaide, south Australia that promotes, practices, and represents permaculture. As stated by PASA, “permaculture has practical applications in many domains, from backyard to bioregion, city to bush. It provides strategies to develop vibrant communities, sustainable food production, healthy ecosystems, energy-efficient homes, personally fulfilling lifestyles, and much more.”
6) Permaculture Institute of El Salvador (IPES) — IPES is based in El Salvador and instructs families that participate in subsistence farming on how to adapt to climate change and develop their environment. IPES focuses on sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and providing structure to community organization. IPES uses the “Farmer to Farmer” methodology to promote permaculture and ensure that subsistence farmers utilize sustainable agricultural practices. According to IPES, “some of our permaculture community workers think our greatest success has been in stopping farmers from using the slash and burn method, and training them how to protect and rebuild the soil.”
7) Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) — PINA is a grassroots organization designed to support permaculture students and practitioners in North America. According to PINA, “permaculture is becoming widely recognized as the premier strategy for transforming culture and agriculture in North America.” PINA aims to raise and maintain permaculture standards, support permaculture education, and structure permaculture communication.
8) Red Soil Project — Based in Malawi, the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology runs the Red Soil Project to promote farmer networks that share permaculture knowledge, resources, and practices. This project works to increase food security through affordable enhancements to family farms. Households that utilize permaculture practices in Malawi have access to healthy produce, with improved nutrition, diet diversity, and access to food, as compared to households that employ conventional farming methods.
9) Sustainable Food System Development Project — In Owen Valley, California, the Sustainable Food System Development Project has planted 40 fruit trees, created a demonstration permaculture garden, grown a food forest, and established an organic seed bank. This project is working to erect a self-sustaining agricultural ecosystem on the Big Pine Paiute Tribe reservation with the intention of increasing the community's access to food. This project also aims to increase understanding of sustainable gardening practices and native plants.
10) The Permaculture Project LLC — Based in Carbondale, Illinois, The Permaculture Project LLC aims to promote land and structure design rooted in permaculture through its educational and consulting services. In agreement with the philosophy of permaculture, this project uses “tools and technologies that create positive and ethical lifestyle changes, sustain rather than diminish resources, harmonize relations between ecological and human systems, and stabilize these systems for future generations.”
To learn more about permaculture and register for the Permaculture Voices Conference, click here.