Our world is facing crises on many fronts. From global health concerns, to the climate emergency, biodiversity losses, ecosystem degradation, and waste, there is a lot to be angry, worried and upset about. But if we are to find a pathway to a better future, we don't just have to tackle problems on a planetary scale. We also have to calm the storms within us to find the strength we need to make a better world. Finding peace through permaculture is one important strategy for inner balance.
When looking at the environment of global risks, we tend to focus on the economic and political sides of the problems. However, the human side to the global risks environment should not be neglected nor underestimated. Unfortunately, for many, this world is an increasingly anxious, unhappy and lonely one. The global environment is such that anger is on the rise and often it can seem that empathy is in decline. Broadly speaking, we are ever-more seeing the psychological stress that comes from a feeling of lack of control in the face of instability and uncertainty.
Permaculture can give us hope for a better world. And hope is a powerful and often overlooked tool on the route to a better, fairer and more ethical existence.
What is Permaculture?
Permaculture is a blueprint for sustainability. It is a design system used to create food producing systems and, more broadly, societal systems, that really can stand the test of time. By using the ethics and principles of this design system, we can create permanent agriculture, permanent culture. We can find a way of growing and a way of life that works in harmony with nature, rather than fighting it.
The term was coined in Australia in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Since then, it has spread all around the globe.
At its heart, permaculture is all about three central ethics that guide all principles and practices:
- Care for our planet.
- Care for human kind.
- Fair share (returning all surplus to the system).
This simple message is one that we can all take to heart. Clinging to these three central ethics can help us feel grounded, and at peace. With a firm foundation to work from, we can feel more strongly that it is possible to make a better world.
But permaculture goes beyond this, and gives us principles that we can apply – in our gardens and on our farms, but also in our communities in a range of other ways. David Holmgren's 12 permaculture principles are:
From these principles and the body of theory come a range of practical methodologies too. Permaculture begins on the page – in the theory. But it swiftly moves on to the field, to the community, to education and practice. The design process and the practices are all firmly rooted in the real world.
From forest gardening and no dig gardening, to agro-ecology and agroforestry, and other forms of landscape restoration... From intentional communities to downsizing and other green-living approaches... Permaculture offers real, practical solutions to the problems we face.
Permaculture has creating thriving food producing systems, homes and communities all over the world. It has greened deserts, and conserved and restored many other different ecosystems.
Why Permaculture Helps Us Find Peace
When we apply permaculture ethics and principles, and adopt permaculture design strategies and permaculture practices in our everyday lives, this helps us feel more in control. By taking real, tangible steps to tackle global problems locally, we can find peace in knowing that we can make a difference.
Each small victory in a permaculture garden or another permaculture system will help us see that change is possible, and that there are small glimmers of hope in our often dark and disturbing world.
A permaculture approach often involves learning new skills – gardening, home cooking, DIY, herbal lore and natural medicine, natural building, foraging, up-cycling, and conflict resolution, to name but a few. And this too can help us feel more balanced and in control, no matter what emotional or literal storms may come.
Permaculture often takes us into our gardens, or out into nature to find the solutions we seek. And feeling a closer connection with nature has shown to have profound benefits for our health and well-being. Spending just small portions of time in green, natural surroundings has been shown to have an incredible stress-busting effect. This is another reason why adopting a permaculture lifestyle can help us find peace.
Permaculture shows us how we can take so much into our own hands, and can work to create a better life for ourselves, our families, our communities, and for our planet. Becoming ever more self-reliant and resilient, we can begin to shape our own destinies in the most profound of ways.
Hope is audacious. But hope is essential if we are to realise our destinies and forge the world we want to see. Permaculture brings hope, and that is why it is essential if we are to calm our inner storms and find a pathway to happiness, security and peace.
 “ Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability” , David Holmgren, 2002