Engage Nature – Learn to Prosper

painting of a mother Koala and fire burned joey awakening the god of Mars with a conche. Wake up call for humanity.

Engaging nature supports our health and the creatures that surrounds us. Learning how nature creates and supports life is a great guide to help society prosper.

Nature is persistent and collaborative. It creates systems that support diverse users. There are lots of side-projects happening. To the human eye, it often seems chaotic and intense. But nothing is wasted. And the power for growth is exponential, pushing all the boundaries.

With wisdom , humanity retreats from destructive industrial systems that pollute, over-heat and disrupt nature. And the healthier options are winning. We have discovered alternative production systems that harmonize with and benefit from nature’s powerful forces.

2004 then 2021 regeneration by capturing rainwater and encouraging worms – our site, Mt Kembla.

“In the slider, I stand in an orange hat with a good friend Sister Mary Darcy in 2004. At first we covered an area of compacted subsoil with a layer of cardboard. And we created a border of reused bricks and covered the cardboard with grass clippings and fallen leaves. We made little pockets of soil to hold pioneering plants such as parsley, garlic chives, flax, bromeliads native raspberries and strawberries. After a couple of years, the cardboard broke down and new elements were added including a tyre pond which is now covered in plants and protects frogs. We also added quick growing shrubs such as Tamarillo, Jabuticaba, passionfruit vines, chilli bushes and a few small trees such as jelly palm and lemon tree.

Sr. Mary is gone now but her legacy lives on. My hat is red and our son’s dog visits to keep eagles away from the chickens. The chickens are unseen in the bushes. Most notably, the edges have moved back to allow more room for people to use the space. Yet the growing area is more productive because the initial flat area has become a complex vertical space with many layers.

April of PermacultureVisions.com

Admire, Analyse and Engage Nature

Unlike most man-made factory systems, nature is more complex. This makes it tricky to understand and work with nature. Mankind likes to streamline and focus on one idea at a time. Nature seems chaotic, experimental and wild.

Most education is reductionist, studying special parts. Few of us get the chance to put parts together, step back, and admire a whole system.

In Permaculture, we try to start with a wide lens of ethics and respect for systems. Within a bigger-picture- framework, we examine how the parts work and interact. First up we read the wider landscape. Then we consider the details ie. water channeling or soil enrichment.

Michael ‘Skeeter’ Pilarski on building an uplifting spiral of understanding and respect

In theories about systems, there is the acknowledgment that a system has a power that can be greater than the individual parts. A good example is a human body. Each human is different. Whist the systems are very similar from one to another, they are in different states of wellness, growth, and stability.

Same, Same, Different Nature

Likewise, even natural systems with similar parts will be in different states of health. Some systems are degrading due to natural or man-made pressures such as fire or erosion. Other natural systems are overridden by a dominant species such as weeds or feral animals.

Some natural systems had lost important parts such as top predators. As a result, destructive browsers thrived.

Furthermore, the exclusion of heavy browsers from fragile key elements of the system in degraded landscapes builds diversity.

https://www.basscoastlandcare.org.au before and after shots
https://www.basscoastlandcare.org.au landcare in gullies photo by Lew Potter

Dynamic and Optimistic

In natural systems, the sum of the parts is a constantly changing sum. It is a moving, dynamic balance. A dynamic balance is different from a static balance. We experience a dynamic balance when we stand on a balance board or ride a bicycle. Whereas we create a static balance when we stack pebbles on top of one another.

Without the ability to adjust and find balance, the system collapses. Sometimes some of the elements within the system emerge to take advantage of the changes and create a new balance. Life is ever hopeful and new systems emerge. Over time, the sum declines. Diversity of life wanes. And our options fade.

In a permaculture systems, we use nature to create a system that helps people prosper by providing clean water, air, food, and shelter from harsh weather.

Harmonize to Engage

Mankind is a powerful industrial entity. Yet, mankind is also a vulnerable natural being. We often use selfish reasons to divorce ourselves from nature citing natural disasters and pandemics. But the simple choice to maintain natural systems nurtures our supportive world.

Vandana Shiva urges us to value diversity and look beyond mechanical solutions.

We all benefit by supporting and co-existing with natural systems. Rediscovering our love of nature, and building admiration of complex systems will enable us to design for balance and a sustainable future.

Vandana say “Diversity doesn’t mean exclusivity – It takes a bee and a flower to create life…We are interbeings with all creatures, we are not supreme beings.” Realising that we are part of the web of life will preserve diversity and our part of it.

Relinquish Control – Set Nature Free

In the end, the hardest part of working with nature is relinquishing control. Honest engagement shows trust. Letting go, gives us the chance to watch and learn.

Learn how to see. Realize everything connects with everything else” Leonardo Da Vinci

Koalas officially near extinction due to climate change and deforestation.

Learn more about Permaculture Design with us.

Silk – The Fabric Of A Forgotten Culture

Recently we sent a request to advertise our Silkworms in a local agricultural newsletter. We received a curt rejection stating:
‘Silkworms are just pets for children…What do Silk-worms produce anyway?” 

Actually, Silkworms produce a lot more than just their famous Texan-Horn-and-Silk-armchairhigh value fabric which is strong, beautiful, soft and insulating.  Silk-worm pupae are also edible and the worms produce neat pellets of fertiliser.  Agriculturally speaking Silkworms definitely are ‘childs-play’. They and their hardy food source, carbon-building Mulberry trees, are very easy to grow and harvest. Silkworms are probably the most domesticated protein source on the planet.  The worms grow to 70 times their body size in just a few months. They are easy to handle using simple tools and require no fancy farming machinery.

chinese-pedlar-ming-dynasty-chicago-museumSilk was one of the first agricultural products known to man. The silk route facilitated trade from far eastern countries to the middle east and Europe as early as the dark ages. Whilst silk was quietly being made by farmers for Royal families in Asia, European hunters were chasing the brutal undomesticated forefathers of sheep, cows and horses.  Silk is still considered one of the best fabrics for high fashion products such as suits. In Asia, the trade secrets are heavily guarded and recent technological innovations have made it much easier to process the silk.

Why has Silk been forsaken?

  1. Fossil fuels now produce silk-substitutes such as nylonchicken-finds-worm and synthetic polyester.
  2. Fossil fuels have also changed the way we farm. Fossil fuels enable farmers to cheaply transport, shear and process high fibre yields from larger animals such as sheep.
  3. Many small products like silk, tea, cacao/chocolate and coffee beans are labour-intensive and hard to mechanise.

What’s So Great About Traditional Knowledge?

Gene’s can be altered but not created. Why let any genetic material be lost forever? Many people have fought to retain valuable genetic material in the hope that this genetic material will be valuable for future generations. Furthermore, it is easier and cheaper to keep producing living seeds than to store them in a seed-bank.  Bio-security controls also make it risky to move species from one bio-region to another. If you have a genetic strain in your bio-region , this strain has probably adapted to your area and could be hard to replace even if you were able to import it from another region.

In the same way we are losing gene material, we are also at risk of losing traditional knowledge.  Many ancient crafts, techniques and recipes are distant memories.

One of the most powerful principles of Permaculture is to build diversity. By encouraging diversity we broaden our options and we foster resilience in our own designs and in our community.  Silk farming is one little example of thousands of years of research and living in harmony with nature.

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