25 February 2014

Permaculture inside the home - 2

Yesterday I wrote about the inside work done in permaculture zones. Today we're focusing on the principles of permaculture and how they might apply in your home in addition to your outdoor area and gardens.

The 12 principles of permaculture:
  1. Observe and interact 
  2. Catch and store energy 
  3. Obtain a yield 
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback 
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services 
  6. Produce no waste 
  7. Design from patterns to details 
  8. Integrate rather than segregate 
  9. Use small and slow solutions 
  10. Use and value diversity 
  11. Use edges and value the marginal 
  12. Creatively use and respond to change 
I'm not going to write about how we apply every one of these principles here because I want everyone to think about it themselves, and maybe tell me how they could work in your home. But I will write about a couple of them to give you the general idea. You'll see that a few of them are self-evident, some will need a bit of thinking, but that's why this is helpful - it gives you different ways of looking at your work and how to remain productive in your home. Just remember that one of the interesting concepts of permaculture is that one zone, idea, action, method or principle often has multiple outcomes over several other areas. So when you apply these principles to your home, you'll probably find that one principle relates to one or two others.

For example, catch and store energy marries up with obtain a yield in my home because we have solar panels for electricity and hot water. Self regulation feeds into this too because we had to train ourselves to turn off light switches and when buying new appliances, to buy energy efficient products that cost more up front but save money and energy over a long period of time. Of the moment cash savings are often overshadowed by long term savings, fewer products being bought and less white goods waste.

Observe and interact
This is the easy one. Observation and taking time are the keys here. It requires us to not operate on automatic pilot but to be mindful, to observe and take in what we're doing in our daily work, change what we can to make our home a more productive place and to simplify our work practices. We interact with each other, discuss problems, come up with combined solutions, and, when they spend time with us, invite our grandchildren to help with the simple tasks. This interaction with Alex and Jamie taps into principles 3, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12.

Catch and store energy
This incorporates the obvious solar panels on our roof that catch solar energy and produce hot water and electricity to use in our home but it also applies in other areas too. The jams, chutneys and sauces in the stockpile cupboard that have been produced from the garden produce out back, prepared and stored in such a way that all the energy that went into the growing of that food, is captured and stored for our use later in the year when those foods are no longer available.

Integrate rather than segregate 
This is an important principle here because for me, it deals with the family and how we all work together. Our aim has been to bring our family into the way we live - even though they don't live here and we don't expect them to do what we're doing. It is enough for us that while they're here, they respect our lifestyle, help us when they can and do not want to separate themselves from what is considered to be an unusual life. When our grandchildren are here, we show them how to plant seeds, how to pick fruit and to collect eggs. We integrate them into our living systems to slowly teach them these life skills and to help them understand us.  All our children love eating the foods we grow and share with them. They all eagerly take our home produce when it's offered to them and in that way, even though they don't live here, they show that support and become part of our home on their visits.

Last weekend, we were asked to look after Alex while Shane and Sarndra went to a concert in Brisbane. Of course we jumped at the chance to have our grandson stay over night. We had a wonderful time together and even though they didn't have to, by way of saying thank you, Shane and Sarndra bought us a kumquat tree to add to our orchard. That showed me they understand our productivity ethic, and they are part of it through that understanding. While he was here, Alex ate what was here, he integrated seamlessly into our home and we didn't have to go out and buy special food just for him. It was a real pleasure to see him standing at the blueberry bushes eating the berries he picked. While he was here, he was part of what we've created and I hope as he grows, that will develop and he'll always feel part of it and want to spend time with us.

Design from pattern to details
This encourages you to step back for a moment, look at your work practices, study your patterns of work and to decide if they're working for you or against you. For instance, if the way you do your washing/laundry isn't resulting in clothes being clean and available when they're needed -  the overall pattern isn't functioning as it should. Instead of abandoning the washing altogether, you tweak the components of that pattern - where the clothes baskets are, who is responsible for loading the washing machine, is the washing machine working properly, what cleaning products are you using, how much do they cost, where are they stored etc. All these smaller components need to be looked at individually to see what the weak points are, and then changed to make a better and more efficient system. You modify or change the details to improve the pattern.

As I said, I had no intentions of deciphering these principles and how they may work in your home for you. My intention instead was to show you a few quick examples of how they might be applied in homes and have you think about the principles in your own home and see if applying all, or some of them, might help you understand and do your work. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and I'd like to know if you think you can use permaculture, or part of it, to help you work in your own home.

And in keeping with the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share, I'm passing on some information that came by way of a comment yesterday. It might encourage you to get involved in a community project that needs support from like-minded folk.  malleepermaculture wrote:

Something that may be of interest, on this topic, to you and your readers, is a new Australian permaculture magazine that's going into print in the next few weeks. Pip Magazine is its name and it aims to help people build, connect, create, eat, grow, and nurture their way to a better life and better world. They are running a crowdfunding campaign in the spirit of the permaculture principle, "share the surplus". The campaign ends tomorrow so if you could maybe share the link in the comments or in a post, that will help them put together an Issue #2. 

Pip Magazine: pozible.com/domain/rd/pipmagazine

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