Permaculture & Regenerative Agriculture
What is Permaculture?
While most often heard in relation to growing food, in actuality, permaculture is a holistic design philosophy, a practical method of creating harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be applied to all aspects of life. It is a way of recognizing and increasing connection, and a technical framework to do so.
Through observation and careful thinking about needs, outputs and resource use, both material and non-material, it is possible to see harmonious connections and create abundant, regenerative systems.
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." - Bill Mollison
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative Agriculture or Reg Ag is a broad term describing a natural approach to farming that focuses on rebuilding the soil and adding more carbon to the soil to repair the landscape. It doesn't cover how we decide which systems to use or how to combine them.
While both Reg Ag and Permaculture focus on building "O.M." (Organic Matter) Permaculture emphasizes connectivity between disciplines and will give us the ethical design science and method of organizing the elements of a regenerative system.
The Food Forest & Permaculture Orchard
A food forest, sometimes called a forest garden, is a diverse planting that mimics the systems and patterns of a forest found in nature. A forest thrives and regenerates itself, all on its own, with no external inputs or outside assistance. It is self-watering, self-fertilizing with all inputs produced within the system and all outputs being consumed or utilized by the system.
Generally, there are seven layers of a food forest – an overstory (tall nut tress), an understory (smaller fruit trees), a shrub layer (fruiting bushes), a herbaceous layer (aromatics and edibles), a ground cover layer (living mulch), a root layer and a vine layer. Some include an eigth layer - the mycelial layer (mushrooms).
Using layers, we amplify co-operation, reduce competition and fit more plants in a smaller area producing higher yields.
When we apply these principles in a more patterned design, we call it a Permaculture Orchard, which also mimics a forest, but takes some creative liberties for efficient management on a larger scale.