Sunday, November 29, 2015

Introducing Permaculture: A Follow-up to "INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective"

By: Kathleen Ahamed-Broadhurst

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INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective is a movie showcasing some of the key leaders and projects of the permaculture movement in New England and abroad.  The film shows many beautiful scenes of life in rural and urban setting. But what is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a philosophy that was born out of an Australian garden. It is a practice of sustainable agriculture whose 12 “principles” or guidelines are a framework for creating intuitive system assessments.

In my 2013 article for the Valley Advocate “ Permaculture Goes Public” I explain that “Permaculture revolves around three goals: caring for people, caring for the Earth, and giving a fair share to everyone. Incorporating elements of organic farming, biodynamic agriculture, sustainable development, forestry and natural building, permaculture is a way of thinking holistically about natural systems.”

The twelve principle of permaculture are simple common-sense type statements, accompanied by a saying or phrase that sums up the idea of the principle. Each principle is a key to maximizing sustainability and balance within an ecosystem.

The twelve principles are:
  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy 
  3. Obtain a yield 
  4. Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback 
  5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services 
  6. Produce No Waste 
  7. Design From Patterns to Details 
  8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate 
  9. Use Small and Slow Solutions 
  10. Use and Value Diversity 
  11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal 
  12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change
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In the movie INHABIT we see some great examples of urban permaculture including a number of permaculture examples within the state. In fact Massachusetts is one of the states leading the nation in Permaculture initiatives and education. UMass Amherst has a devoted Permaculture garden that won the 2012 White House Champions of Change Award.         
Permaculture started in the rural garden and its practitioners are overwhelmingly agriculturalists. However, increasingly permaculture is being used in urban areas, within businesses and at the management level. Permaculture explores worker owned co-ops and non-traditional management styles as well as helping to improve the effectiveness of traditional businesses .

Permaculture it is not a passive philosophy -- it is active and solutions based. It hopes to be a blueprint for human success in a time of climate change. Across the world, permaculture is proving that it can be helpful with giving communities localized food security, cleaner water and better understanding of local systems.


Kathleen Ahamed-Broadhurst

Kathleen is a writer and photographer with a focus on travel, the environment and global public health. She is a certified Permaculturalist as well as an Area Director for the historic Fenway Victory Gardens. Currently she is a master’s degree candidate in Sustainability at Harvard Extension. You can follow her on Instagram @kat_abroad

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