I recently explained to a very dear family member that my husband has a permaculture design certificate from The Permaculture Institute, taught by Geoff Lawton and we are in the process of building a business around sustainable gardening and permaculture.
They stared at me blankly.
Often when people ask, “What do you do?” or “What does your husband do”, they are looking for a job that defines our status and position in the world. I take pleasure in giving a different answer to this question almost every time it is asked. My husband and I do a LOT of different things. We “do” or are active in ministry, healthy living, natural healing, exercise/fitness, homesteading, gardening, education, reading, media, communication and taking care of the planet. While I have some titles such as public campus ministry coordinator and personal trainer, mostly we are entrepreneurs of a permaculture business. Permaculture happens to be my favorite answer when the question of what we “do” comes up, because to me, it successfully covers the vast array of things we are passionate about. Permaculture is about creating a natural, sustainable, abundant, and healthy ecosystem, both on our land and in our lives. Permaculture is still a fairly new concept and I secretly love when people are too confused by the word to make a full judgement on the status or success of our position in life.
So today, I have decided to actually delve into this strange new business we are starting. As I write this blog, I am not elucidating on the deep environmental, social and philosophical backgrounds of permaculture, but rather, expressing the practical basics of why we believe an edible and sustainable landscape is practical and necessary for EVERYONE.
What does a Permaculture Designer Do for YOU?
- They look at your particular space in the world (apartment/city home/suburban home/country home/work place/church property) and create a landscape/growing plan that fits your specific situation. They consider your geographic location, along with soil composition, sun exposure, and how much time/effort you have to commit to your property. This allows them to create a system that takes care of both the land and the people who inhabit it, at the same time.
2. They help you waste less. This may mean helping you to start a worm compost, a composting toilet, or just educating you on options for creating less of a footprint on the earth.
3. They are energy masters. They will help you use natural ways of collecting and storing water, and they are the forerunners in solar energy usage and energy conserving options.
4. They encourage and create abundance, variety and quality. While starting an edible garden on your land may take some effort and financial input at first, it ultimately ends up saving you money at the grocery store and in healthcare. The concept allows you to produce healthy food with fantastic flavor. Permaculture design is not the mono-crop planting method that we are all too familiar with, it is the process of planting a variety of different crops in such a way that the soil and the surrounding plants work in unison to create food with extra flavor and in a greater amount.
5. They combine foods/flowers/plants in a way that allows for positive integration. They follow natural patterns and mimic the way nature desires to exist, on its own. They know what types of foods work best in particular regions or settings, and they mix that knowledge with your personal tastes/desires.
6. They are kind of like a nature counselor. There is something highly spiritual and therapeutic about working in the garden. I think that is why God first put man in a garden. We can calm our nerves and find practical and spiritual life lessons all throughout the gardening experience.
Overall, they help you to make small or large changes on your property so that you can add value to the earth, while also adding value to your life. You can use your lawn for food and for plants that benefit the body and the earth, instead of growing and cutting grass, which has no practical/usable output. This aligns with the 3 main principles of permaculture, which are care for the earth, care for people, and share and obtain goods/work fairly.
And if you are interested in starting a permaculture design on your property, there are 3 main tiers which we specialize in:
- Design: the actual layout and look that would be most ideal in your given space.
- Implementation: The landscaping work. Digging, planting, creating.
- Management/Upkeep: continuously looking after the property ( i.e. prepping, weeding, composting, harvesting.)
Hopefully, this will help you understand some of our goals as a permaculture start-up, and maybe one day “permaculture designer” will be as typical a career as “nurse”, “doctor” or “lawyer”. Until then, I will continue to explain our business to confused and skeptical inquisitors. 🙂