I want to share my thoughts on something related to gardening, provident living, and freedom. Over the last year, I have found information on an idea called permaculture that has intrigued me. So much so, that I’ve consistently had one book or another at hand to read about the topic. I came across permaculture as a low effort/high return regenerative gardening method. That appeals to me because I have a back injury from when I was younger that is slowing me down just a bit. While looking for productive perennials that need less tending, what I found was a philosophy on the topics of peace, abundance, and freedom.
Permaculture is the idea of permanent culture, or at the least permanent agriculture. It incorporates taking care of all people, the earth, and everything on it and in it. What’s done, made, or consumed in one region doesn’t damage or harm people or the earth (ecosystem: plants, animals, habitat) in another region. What is taken is returned in a form that will promote growth, compost, for example. Resources are sourced and used locally and contribute to cycles of growth, use, replacement, replenishment, and renewal. Each step in the process, each person or thing (animal, plant, fungus, bacteria, etc.), has a place, a purpose, in the process. Each is a necessary part. There is no waste or excess, only abundance.
This notion of purpose, regeneration, and abundance appeals to me. I have a sense that God created this earth and everything in it with purpose. Everything has a place, has a task to perform. This includes people of all intellects, backgrounds, experience, and cultures. This includes all plants, even “weeds”. This includes fungus, microbes, insects, worms, and all other creepy crawlies. Each of us makes a contribution to how this self-contained world functions and each of us must use our freedom to play our part that allows the world to continue its cycles abundantly.
Sometimes we see pictures of or visit places
that seem barren or stripped of any growth, resources, or beauty. Yet I know I’ve witnessed time and time again
the efforts of the natural world to reclaim these waste places. Grasses and then trees begin to grow after
wildfires. Amazing, forty-foot deep
“weeds” begin to cover ground that has been cleared for a construction
site. Even the gravelly side of the road
above my home springs forth with sunflowers each year. No one has planted or tended them, quite the
contrary. They just thrive on the little
rainfall we get in the spring and, if not mowed down for wildfire control, grow
to maturity by fall. Nature just seems
to have a desire to fill the measure of its creation.
The idea of permaculture, of living with the earth’s regenerative process, inspires me to change how I do things, and even think, for several reasons:
1-I see how our lives have become physically disconnected from the earth over the last century or two, and the effect that has had on people’s health and well-being. Sick building syndrome is “a condition affecting office workers, typically marked by headaches and respiratory problems, attributed to unhealthy or stressful factors in the working environment such as poor ventilation.” (https://www.google.com/search?q=Dictionary#dobs=sick%20building%20syndrome) Yet once people are able to return to nature, they have a sense of well-being and can work to rebuild their health. We don’t have freedom without our health. I have met children who think that eggs come from grocery stores without realizing that there is an animal called a chicken that actually lays the egg. This disconnectedness contributes to how people treat the earth and environment. Reconnecting with the earth benefits our physical and emotional health, increases our understanding of our world, and provides us opportunities to connect (or reconnect) with the people in our communities.
2-I see how our efforts and resources in the 1st world have gone toward things that are not regenerative and are therefore not creating abundance:
lawns instead of gardens – we mow before the plant has had a chance to complete its life cycle
theme parks instead of nature areas – again, being in nature helps rejuvenate us
eating food shipped around the globe with high percentages of waste instead of eating locally grown, flavorful, and nutritious food
classrooms that isolate children by age, cubicles in which people are isolated from one another instead of home and community gardens in which a variety of plants and organisms are encouraged to grow and thrive together, including the humans who tend to them
My husband, children, and I are evaluating how much play space we need in our yard and what can be turned into more garden and orchard. When we have the freedom of leisure time, it’s nice to have some space on a green lawn to run and play, but the opportunity to wander through an abundant garden and orchard is a joy in which to take part!
3-I see waste from improper use of resources or a “pick and choose” attitude of only eating “prime” cuts of meat instead of the whole animal. We have evolved a “throw away” mindset in a world that was created to be self-sustaining, not one in which the trash needs to be taken out weekly. (Where could we possibly take it?) Because of what I’ve learned with permaculture, I’ve taken some small steps that make a big difference. I decided to start a compost pile with the vegetable peelings, cores, etc. from our kitchen. I just gather them in a bowl and at the end of the evening, walk them outside to the spot we’ve chosen for composting. Combined with the spent bedding from our chickens, I’ve started a nice sized compost pile that will enrich my soil in the coming months. I’ve also reduced what is placed in our trash can by half!
4-Our society has been dumbed down -
We came from a culture of producers who understood how local, regional, and even world economies worked and how the multiple roles of individuals influenced these economies, as well as the environment, governance, education, and communication.
We now live in a society that largely understands little of the interplay that exists in these areas. Many people work their specialized job, buy stuff and consume it, all in an effort to be entertained. They are missing out on the interactions that take place and their influence on those interactions. Living regeneratively restores an individual’s understanding of not only their role and potential, but the role of others (including other living things from trees to termites) in sustaining the abundance of the earth.
promotes freedom. With so many niches
that are available when we move away from monocultures (growing only one thing
or producing only one item) to abundant polyculture (plants, animals, and
people thriving in the same area), niches become apparent for each person to
fill with their own interests and abilities.
This leads to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship helps promote and
If permaculture seems like something you want to
learn more about, or you think it might help you on your path to freedom, go
ahead and check out www.thepermaculturestudent.com. They have some free resources there, as well
as a Regenerative Career Guide with fantastic resources that lead to
entrepreneurship and an Advanced Permaculture Student II course online. There is also an abundance of resources
available in libraries and on the internet from other great permaculturists, as
What can you do to be more connected in your life? Take time to connect with nature, evaluate your life in the peace you find there, then take time to strengthen your connections with the people in your life who really matter to you.
What can you do to live more regeneratively? Could you recycle paper and cardboard you use? Could you compost your kitchen scraps? Could you give them to a neighbor who does compost? Could you purchase a reusable water bottle and fill it at home instead of buying water bottles? This may seem like more work, but it makes you less dependent on systems that you don’t control.
Is there a spot in your yard, patio, or windowsill that you could grow a plant to feed you? Is there a local farmer’s or gardener’s market for you to find locally grown produce? Provident living is using your freedom to provide for your own needs and growing your own food is a good start at that.
Meet a local farmer or gardener, or, if you already garden, invite
a neighbor or friend to see yours. Help
spread the knowledge of how to grow things and that people can be producers. By
doing so, you are helping to spread freedom!
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Return to Finding Personal Freedom Home Page
Go to Be a Producer
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I was given the opportunity to share this free audiobook from Matt Powers. It's his "5 Steps to a Regenerative Lifestyle" and is worth a listen. Matt is a permaculture teacher who has made a profound impact in the lives of thousands of students. His work is inspiring, too, not gloom and doom. Enjoy!