The past week has been a whirlwind of permaculture activities for me. I am fascinated by this subject, though I still have trouble adequately explaining what it IS when asked. Fundamentally, permaculture is a practice of sustainable design based on ecological principles, and although usually associated with farming or gardening, it can also be applied to urban settings. It addresses all aspects of a human habitat from food and shelter to disposal of waste. To be more specific, a permaculture site can be anything from an organic garden that includes plant “guilds” and a compost heap with a super-fast 18-day cycle, to a water purification system that uses gravel and reeds to “lock up” toxic contaminants. It has been said that permaculture contains “everything we need to be doing voluntarily, but will ultimately be forced to do.”
For a variety of reasons permaculture is capturing the imagination of a diverse group of sustainability-minded people in the NYC area at the moment. Energy efficiency folks like the idea of resource-efficient design. Food activists like to see infertile or unproductive land (including vacant lots and suburban lawns) turned into plentiful food gardens. Those who believe the world’s oil supply will run dry at any moment like the idea of being able to produce all one’s essentials locally.
So where do I fit into this picture? What would a permaculture site in Flatbush look like? These are the questions I’m trying to answer by observing permaculture in action.
To be continued…