A Lesson on Permaculture Gardens

So you’ve heard that Oaklands is empowering the Drakensberg community through permaculture. You have an idea what it’s about, but aren’t quite sure. Here’s a little crash course…

You can fix the world’s problems in a garden… – Geoff Lawton

What is Permaculture?

A quick lesson in linguistics will get you somewhat closer to the answer. Permaculture is a combination of the words permanent and agriculture – in other words, a portmanteau. With the word agriculture comes an understanding that that which is planted needs to be maintained. But the introduction of permanent suggests ongoing maintenance that is self-regulated. This is the basis of permaculture. It is essentially an ecological system that orientates itself at natural cycles.

Where did Permaculture Originate?

After 20 years of working as a wildlife biologist, Bill Mollison had made many observations – not only about the about the ecosystems in the wild, but also the human impact on them. What he realised during those two decades was the destructive nature of human activities and the ability for ecological systems to regenerate, creating balance.
Bill Mollison, together with his student David Holmgren, set out to share these findings in their 1978 book titled Permaculture One. In it, they discuss a new system to create sustainable human environments – one that is modelled on nature. This new permaculture system would, like natural ecosystems, provide for its own needs, not exploit nor pollute its environment, and be sustainable in the long term.

Removing the Work in Garden Work

By looking at how things work in nature, systems can be designed so that they basically look after themselves. The only effort required is in the groundwork – that is setting the systems up. Nature recycles, so does permaculture. Things like composting, reusing water (rainwater, bath water, etc), replanting seeds are a common occurrence.
In nature, certain plants and animals also thrive in each other’s company. For instance, some plants can assist others grow by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, or providing nutrients, shade and support. An understanding of these behaviours and planting accordingly can go a long way in creating a self-sustaining garden.
Are you interested in more information and tips on permaculture? Be sure to check the Oaklands Country Manor blog regularly.

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