Every stay in the Valley creates a great opportunity for new thoughts and reflections to emerge. This past week I was especially absorbed by the harmony of the jungle ecosystem. The untrained eye would look up to one of the ridges that embrace the Valley and see a chaotic muddle of brush and bugs. But in reality it is a shining example of nature working in perfect order. Every animal, plant and process has its place in the system. Kalu Yala is designing itself around working the human community back into harmony with its physical environment. As far as agriculture in that new community is concerned, permaculture takes into account the values of working with nature to create the perfect food and resource system.
Permaculture, as described by Bill Mollison, is “a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single project system.”
At the heart of permaculture rests a set of three core principles and twelve design principles that encompass the ethics of sustainability and harmony with nature. The three core principles are care for the earth, care for the people and fair share. The second two values ultimately stem from the first. The fair share principle aims to set limits on reproduction and consumption and to see that all surpluses are shared. These three core values set the stage for the following twelve design principles.
- Observe and interact. Learn from nature how to best assimilate into its system
- Catch and store energy. Sun, Wind, Hydro
- Obtain a yield. Human labor is an important resource and needs food to fuel it
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback. Self-regulating systems are the most robust and adaptable.
- Use and value renewable resources and services. Proper stewardship of the land guarantees its condition for future generations
- Produce no waste- The proverbial Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at its best
- Design from patterns to details. Look at the big picture.
- Integrate rather than segregate. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Use small and slow solutions. Local food, Keep it Simple
- Use and value diversity. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
- Use edges and value the marginal. “Nature does nothing uselessly.” –Aristotle
- Creatively use and respond to change. Embrace change and use it you your advantage; design for adaptability.
Here at Kalu Yala, these same types of principles are being used to create a thriving community both with nature and between the residents and locals. The ethics of permaculture are inspiring and applicable to so many institutions. Through our next trip into the Valley and beyond I will be considering the values of permaculture and how they really create an ideal model for sustainable design.
Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by: Bill Mollison