Mulit-Functional Permaculture

multi-functional people in permaculture

Being Multi-functional

Permaculture design promotes things that are multi-functional rather than things that have only one use.  A medium-sized sharp knife can be used for a wide range of tasks indoors: even be used for circus acts. Whereas fish knife is only designed for fish. And, even then, the fish-knife requires skill and patience. Without this specialist skill we could get cold fish with hidden little bones.

A building can be masterfully designed to be multi-functional. It can shelter us in many ways. As a result, we can have natural light to illuminate many activities. We can be protected from wild-fire. The roof can collect water and shed debris. The internal walls can store heat to be released at night. The shape of the building can also serve as a wind break. An internal courtyard can provide a welcome shady retreat.

  • On the other hand, a poorly designed building requires artificial lighting during the day. A sick building can make us ill from poor air circulation and we are less likely to be productive or enjoy life.

Multi-functional People

multi-functional people in permacultureWe live in an era where workers are expected to have high levels of expertise in order to compete. Contrast this with a permaculture lifestyle where we explore new ideas. Growing food at home, connecting with others, learning from elders and reconnecting with nature helps us develop a range of skills that are productive and rewarding.

Multifunctional Plants

Here are some tropical trees with multi-function. This information was provided by our recent graduate, Keith Mikkelson. He has uses permaculture design to boost production at an orphanage in Thailand. 
1) Moringa Moringa oleifera,
  • Nutritious leaves
  • Seeds edible –  the horseradish tree
  • Seeds filter water
  • Fast growing shade cover/erosion control
  • Goats and rabbits feed on leaves
2) Madre de cacao Gliricidia sepium
  • Fodder crop for our hogs, goats and chicken
  • Living fence-grows from cuttings and used to form fence
  • High N for compost
  • Used for contour planting
  • Biomass for mulch
3) Ipil Ipil
  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • High N for compost
  • Used for erosion control on contours
  • Biomass for mulch
  • Leaves made into meal for high protein by weight feed
4) Neem Azadirachta indica
  • Shade
  • Leaves repel weevle in rice
  • Leaves prevent termites in books
  • Fuel for cooking, charcoal and wood
  • Grows vigorous after pruning
  • Berries are good fertilizer
  • Village pharmacy
  • Medicinal oil
  • De-worming medicine
 5) Bamboo [technically a grass]
  • Solid fuel and charcoal
  • Decorative woodwork
  • Furniture
  • Shade
  • Contour erosion control
  • Edible shoots.
  • Leaves for goats and geese.
  • Tea for humans high in silica. This tea can also aid hair growth.
  • Building material

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