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on January 31, 2004
What is permaculture? Permaculture is a way of life; it makes maximum use of resources by minimizing waste and maximizing potential; it is a tool for planet-repair; it is a way of creating wealth without causing environmental damage; it is about meeting our own needs without making the lives of other less pleasant; it is about limiting personal consumption but gaining more than you lose; it is about using technology when it is the best way to accomplish a task; it is developing interdependence with the community rather than self-sufficiency; it is about reducing the work required to meet a given end; it is about giving each of us the power to influence the world from our own home. Permaculture is not about getting away from it all but taking control of our lives where we are. It is a concept and a practice with global implications because it is possible under any culture, in any climate and by people with any skills. Permacultue invites you to take care of yourself, your family and your immediate community, and to care for your neighbors in the widest possible sense, all around the globe. Permaculture is based on sound economics while making our lives more harmonious with the needs of the planet.
Put in its simplest terms, permaculture asks people to put as much into life as they demand from it; but it starts with each individual because that is what is immediate and within our control and because only we have the power to affect the future by acting creatively for the good of ourselves and others. Permaculture starts in the home because that is the central point in time and space from which all daily occupations radiate. Designing the home to supply much of its own needs and to consume its own outputs would be a massive contribution to global cleansing. Thoreau, in his book 'Walden' reviews his two-year experiment in simple living as a counter to industrialization and commerce that have driven people into virtual slavery. His remedy was to concentrate on simple requirements to free up time and energy for our spiritual needs. Our house should provide health for the family, peace for the spirit and harmony with the environment - and that is what permaculture strives to attain. Think globally but act locally is a slogan that reminds us, not just of our duty, but of our personal ability to affect change for the better. Permaculture is best expressed in your own garden because gardening exhibits all the qualities of planet-care - it is small scale, local, ethical, and a personal responsibility that brings together all strands of our relationship with nature; it is a common bond between families throughout the world. Permaculture is best expressed through the individual because leadership is so vital to building a better world. Every parent is a leader; every adult and every child can become a leader. All it requires is to do something when you see something that needs doing and that something may be as simple as creating a garden along the lines described in this book.
This book shows us how to meet our basic needs while leaving the earth richer; it helps us to relearn the value of nature; it helps us to understand new ways of being wealthy; it helps us to create a productive lifestyle without causing environmental damage. Although the specifics of this book are for the British Isles, the principles and philosophies are universal. At present, the earth cannot keep up with our rate of production and consumption. We must deepen our understanding of the land and our relationship to it. This doesn't mean that we all have to become peasant or subsistence farmers; permaculture seeks more rewarding paths to paradise. This book helps us to design our lives efficiently, not just to feed and clothe ourselves better but to take as little as possible of the earth's space for the production of those needs; to do as little damage as possible to the environment and whenever possible to return as much as possible to nature.
David Bellamy starts his preface with these words. "I have four books in my library which form the cornerstones of my hope for the future: Marcus Porcius Cato's 'Treatise on Agriculture' (about 160 AD); Robert Sharrock's 'History of the Propagation and Improvement of Vegetables by the Concurrence of Art and Nature' (1660); Hans Jenny's 'The Soil Resource' (1980); and Bill Mollison's 'permaculture' (1988). I can now add this book to the collection, for it is of great importance. This is a spring-board text, which relaunches the wisdom of almost twenty centuries into the arena where it is most needed and from which it can be most effective - the rich countries of the temperate world."
At the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development, one resolution was to declare a Decade for Education on Sustainable Development starting in 2005. We must now start thinking about what should be included in the new curriculum. Permaculture should definitely be included. If you want to move away from the consumerist lifestyle; if you want to live by more enduring values; if you are looking for answers to the question 'What can I do about curing our world?'; if you are looking for ways to improve your health and to live more harmoniously with nature; if you agree with Edmund Burke that "for the triumph of evil it is only necessary that good men do nothing"; then this well may be the book you have been looking for. This book should be in the library of everyone interested in building a better world.
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