I’ve been doing a lot of planning for the future in the past month. While i was at Kerikeri Organic, i set myself up with a hot pink room in South Minneapolis, a third season with the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers’ Market, and an ongoing gardening partnership with the fabulous Abby Rae LaCombe. I have been really excited about going home to live this life!
I also made a little time for a final New Zealand hurrah – at last weekend’s Permaculture Hui.
At what? Where?!
I know…i know. I haven’t even defined the term permaculture for the workingmembership reader, and here i go jumping ahead and tacking a Maori word onto it. Bear with me…
Hui more or less means gathering. This Hui was structured like a conference, with workshops, site visits, and shared meals. Amazing ones! (I was on the kitchen crew, so i suppose i’m a little biased…)
And permaculture…well, that one’s a little more complicated. In conversation, i often describe permaculture as designing food production and human habitation systems based on natural ones. A better explanation might include the Permaculture Ethics – Earthcare, Peoplecare, and Fairshare – and perhaps even delve into the Permaculture Principles. And a more thoroughgoing academic explanation would inform you that permaculture was developed by a couple of Australians in the ’70s around a set of practices that save time and energy through good design. In the garden, these include “zoning,” which sites the elements of the garden system according to the frequency of their use, polyculture (as opposed to monoculture), and integrating animals, a food source in and of themselves, to do much of the work of weeding and fertilizing.
These descriptions have their place, but i much prefer Whanganui Permaculturist Lisa Talbot’s: Permaculture is revolution disguised as gardening.
To the people in the present day permaculture community, it’s not just about “permanent agriculture.” It’s also about “permanent culture” – redesigning from the ground up to create sustainable human scale systems for all of our activities. It’s not prescriptive or reductionist thinking – in fact it’s the opposite. Every context needs its own solutions, developed on the ground, designed around the situation and using what’s available.
I’m a little green, so i’m gonna let that stand as the workingmembership definition of permaculture for the moment.
And the Permaculture Hui?
The Hui was really inspiring for me. Okay, so i napped through a lot of it, and i cut myself twice while working in the kitchen, and i found most of the workshops boring – but that wasn’t really what it was about for me. It was about sharing space and ideas with other people who share my values – and, in a lot of cases, my confusion. There’s no straight line for which way to go with this stuff. Should we start intentional communities, build food forests, learn to forage? Or travel to distant lands to learn about traditional ways and new innovations? To really dig into the dirt in Minnesota, do i have to go to the Southern Hemisphere?
After my five months of permaculture exploration here, i finally found a peer community to explore these questions with. So leaving, now, is bittersweet for me. My heart aches with love and the sadness of separation from all of the amazing people i just met.
But, on the other hand, i am looking forward to coming home to join the revolution.