Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
What is ‘permaculture’? One definition is that it is ‘ an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living; a practical method for developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere.’
This definition sounds very scientific and unattainable by the person in the street but the last two words tell us that we can all work towards a world that is not reliant on oil based chemicals. It was first conceived in the 1970s at the time of the first oil crisis and called ‘permanent agriculture’. The idea of moving away from annual cropping and monoculture to a multi-layered approach that made use of trees and perennial plants was developed in agriculture and soon spread throughout society, being seen as a culture of permanence.
Of course, permaculture was looked upon as an odd form of gardening, recycling old car tyres and growing strange plants that no-one wanted to eat and that few would want to follow but now we have reached peak oil, the principles of permaculture more than fit this different, future world.
Our agriculture has become reliant on chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides produced from oil, and over time these chemicals have destroyed the natural nutrients in the soil and effectively made the soil dead. They have destroyed the habitats of many beneficial creatures that we should work with, not against, to produce our food. Many people believe that the cocktail of chemicals delivered to our fields has helped to put the lives of our bees in jeopardy, and so food production may be even more threatened.
Permaculture is not just a way of growing things, although this is more than a good start. If you have even the smallest space you can grow some things to eat and in so doing have the great satisfaction in knowing that you have helped make a better world.