Permaculture: No Guts

Researching the final assignment for the online course and finally had to make this observation: The permaculture community has no guts. Talk about how important failure is to development, but never risk their own personal failure by critically reviewing the work of the pantheon of mythical heros. Talk about how the science of botany, horticulture, agriculture, flow dynamics, geology, economics, organic chemistry is so important to the methods, but so far very little if any real science happening… you know, hypothesis, null hypothesis, research design, statistical treatment, replication, predictability, failure, redesign, etc.

It is my observation that the leading Fathers of Permaculture are not interested in this activity. It is easier to plant and then make pretty videos of the best results. Not having seen all of the permaculture videos, I am hopeful that someone has done the “Do Not Try This At Home”  video of failures. In this design work – as in science – failures are essential to progress.

Permaculture is a practice, like medicine and the law. The foundation of permaculture should be recognized as physical and ethical laws.  A practice is dynamic, and feels safe changing and growing and failing and recovering because it is based on those laws: that consistent, moisture is necessary; that specific levels of sunlight for specific plants is necessary; that certain livestock managed in certain ways will predictably increase the productivity of the land; that providing a useful demonstration which fits the value system of a community is more important than who is providing that demonstration.

The mythical heros (again, I’m not seeing a heroine among the vanguard in Valhalla) are a distraction.

This course and the reflective element and the belief in that reflective element by the facilitator has brought me to a new level of commitment and understanding of my role. For me it is not just about growing my own food (I do that now); not about improving my property; it is not just about making an income; it is not about saving the earth because I alone cannot do that. But I believe deeply in the fundamentals of this practice and I believe that individuals can experience a certain kind of freedom by adopting these ways, a feeling of self-determination, and some small relief from a feeling of helplessness. I also believe in critical mass: the smallest amount of material necessary to maintain a chain reaction…

2 thoughts on “Permaculture: No Guts

  1. Yep. I am in the same position, just completing an organic horticulture intro course with a permaculture component and coming to terms with how to apply that learning to my own property. And I’m in the same boat, not enough about failure, not enough about testing and measurement and far, FAR to much word salad in the videos from Geoff Lawson.

    That said, and allowing that nobody can know for maybe 1,000 years whether permaculture is in fact permanent, I am convinced that it is the best chance we have of not ending the human species in a wasteland.

  2. I agree so very much! Little is available about the failures of the process, or how to go about even recording them as we go. AND, yes, where are all the female leaders? Everything is for sale it seems and access to information and collaboration comes at a cost, always. (I mean a monetary cost) We need more collaboration with the whole process. P.s. I am a Permaculture designer also in Caper. Big internet hugs for you!

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