Monday, January 20, 2014

Guest post

I wrote a guest post at Farmer's Liz, Eight acres, because it was about a subject close to my heart. Permaculture endeavours to translate the natural environment into our culture, so that we don't live separate to the natural systems which sustain us.




The very fact we can breathe, is thanks to the natural systems which have been quietly working in the background. Permaculture and its principles, tries to interpret that system into our every day being. Whether we live on acreage, or whether we live urban, permaculture has a design solution for any location.

I apologise for getting this post up so late. Feel free to comment should you wish to discus our permaculture experience - or indeed, your own. I would very much like to hear about it.



14 comments:

  1. Congratulations again Chris. I am heading there now:)

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  2. It was a great explanation about swales. I have always struggled with the theory of permaculture but I am finally getting it and I think this is in part that I had stayed with the "observe and interact" principle for long enough that I get it on a deeper level. I can't find a comment button on the 8 acres site but would have commented if I had. If Farmer Liz is reading here, thanks for including Chris in your series:)

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  3. Thanks for the feedback. :)

    I thought Liz had a great idea, posting about how permaculture is used in practice and the people behind it, so figured I'd put my hand up to contribute. I never would have learned half of what I have, without people sharing their experiences with permaculture.

    Swales are elusive things, until you start constructing one and seeing how it redirects water. If you do a google search on swales and chose "images" you'll see some pretty spectacular pictures of them. Like owning chickens, I will always keep swales on my landscape now I know how valuable they are.

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  4. I need to actually see one in person I think. Most images are not sufficiently dimensional-i.e. there are usually lots of gorgeous greens things around the swale-for me to get a good gist. I do know what they are supposed to do because you have explained it to me time and again:) But I am not entirely sure of where to put one on my land and if I actually need one to begin with. If I can dig one, I could understand it better.
    I agree that Liz has a great idea on this writing project. I think it really will help a lot of people to understand where permaculture can fit in. And I like how you say that you don't really need to go full force into it. That can be off putting for busy people.

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    1. It put me off thinking I had to do everything if I was really serious about permaculture. I wasn't ready for full conversion, but as it happens, no-one has to be - you can engage at whatever level you feel comfortable and capable doing. So take it as it comes, dabble, or take it seriously; whatever works. :)

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    2. That is exactly how I came to start seeing it as a user friendly system actually. Each piece of land or house or person is too unique to apply a generic formula.

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    3. Its funny how you first have to learn the principles, in order to recognise which ones may not apply to a particular situation. I was chatting on another farm blog about their swales, and its interesting they said you don't want to overkill on swales. They had a unique quality to their soils which meant they needed bucket-loads of water to fill their swales. So they settled on a few strategically placed ones instead.

      To put it another way, if your soil is already preventing erosion by absorbing run-off efficiently, a swale is overkill. The land could be used for a different system to address what could be lacking instead. It's the first time I've heard limiting rhetoric directly applied to a permaculture design system.

      We tend to view waste in nature as harmless (opposed to man-made fossil energy waste) but it's actually quite toxic to lifeforms when the natural balance is too out of kilter. That's why I appreciate working by hand on a lot of our earth moving projects. Nature often tests our systems before they're finished, so we get to tweak with nature's feedback.

      But the short of it is, as you said, each piece of land/house/person has unique needs from what is explained as a generic permaculture formula. It's up to the individual to experiment according to their needs. :)

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  5. Chris, I really enjoyed reading your post. We have lots of swale ideas for our place but further out in the orchard and paddocks. And I only recently discovered the Geoff Lawton site. It is so good!! Trouble is, I'll be taking a break and on the computer to have a physical rest and after watching his videos, I'm so inspired I get out and attempt to do twenty men's work! Linda M, I wonder if you DO understand the swale but possibly it's contours you need to learn about. Once you understand contours you 'get' where to put swales. :-)

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    1. Linda, I do think I understand swales but contours seem really intimidating to me. I will try a little more focus on contours to see if I can get over this hump. Thanks for the suggestion!

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    2. Linda, I took forever to get the contour idea but once you've got it, you've got it. I explained contours to my ten year old last week and next thing I knew she was in the paddock helping me mark them. Why couldn't I catch on as quickly?!

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    3. LOL. Because children don't know the term, "I can't". lol.

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  6. Thanks for the feedback Linda, and I hope you enjoy your break. That's if the Geoff Lawton videos don't keep you awake all night, thinking about what you can do to your land, lol. I must confess, the 5 acres of abundance video had me eager to get digging. But then he demonstrates successful roof top gardens and urban permaculture design too. Something for everyone.

    You make a good point about contours in relation to swales. I understood what a swale was before relating it to contour too. It's where to place them at optimal sites on a slope. I'm a hands on learner though, so as much as I read about the theory behind it all - it really only sank in once I started digging.

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  7. Chris, I was fascinated to see the Taj garage on your reading list. Do you know them personally? They are one I've watched as well.

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    1. They live in Victoria, and we're in Queensland but there is no direct association. I actually came across the Taj through "Build your own house" discussion forum. We were considering owner-building our house many years ago, so I frequented the boards, and that's how I came across it.

      I like blogs with a DIY approach to building dwellings, furniture or whatever makes life easier - or harder, depending how you look at it, lol. It's not easy building something for the first time, but then the project might make life easier once it's finished.

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