Self-Reliance Not Self-Sufficiency

difference between self-reliance and self-sufficiency

Self-Reliance Is Empowering

Permaculture is not about self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is not as simple as the idealised ‘GOOD LIFE’ TV series in the 70’s by BBC.  It is full of long lonely days, repetitive hard work, and constant risk of starvation and disease.

If, however, you are looking for a lifestyle that connects you with nature and your neighbours, boost your Self-Reliance.

Self-reliance stimulates local production by giving, trading or sharing. Many people don’t realise what skills they have to trade. As a member of an informal trading organisation, some people offer cleaning fluids, dog biscuits, repairs. There are even systems with quick and easy exchange such a tables of free food plant harvests at the gate.

But, best of all, self-reliance enables us to care for the weak and the elderly. This strengthens community connections, improves our mental and physical health. And, as a community, we pool efforts to improve our environment.

Value your Community and They Will Value You

Permaculture promotes a sense of community because it is built on ethics: Care of People, the Planet and Fair Share. Caring for People invites us to build better communities. Then, with consultation with our community we can design adaptable community spaces. Both physical and invisible can be designed for adaptability. The physical structures for adaptability include social hubs, educational and recreational areas. Supporting this, are hidden structures such as trading centres, banking systems and news exchange facilities.

A Supercharged Design

winter harvest_cropped

When working for self-reliance, we design for whole ‘villages’ not just individual households. So, this increases the efficiency of the waste cycles. Resources (physical, intellectual, social) are more immediate and usable. As a result, the cycle of local production and disposal of the waste are tightly connected.

Self Reliance Grows By Sharing city-farm-sharing

Frequent exchanges on a small scale requires very little planning. As a result, a busy community has quick means for sharing, trading and lending resources. ‘Hand-me-downs’ are passed on as needed. Harvests and meals are easily shared. Also, valuable and timely knowledge is offered informally.

As a result of informal trading features of this ‘informal’ economy is that the consumer and producer get to meet. They tend to be kind to one another. Particularly, in his free e-book, Permaculture Strategy for the South African Villages Terry Leahy explores the power of the gift economy. In general, the gift economy fulfils the permaculture principle of ‘working where it counts’. And secondly, it can expand our circle of influence.

Self Reliance builds Self Esteem

Due to economic pressures and modern machinery, many farmers work in isolation with heavy budget pressures.  On a large property, farming is time-consuming, lonely and destructive. In contrast to this, small holdings can be highly productive and rewarding. This works especially well when the local community supports local food production directly through farmers markets. Given that Rural suicide is significantly higher than urban, healthy relationships are the key to survival. When farmers need assistance (psychological, medical and veterinary services) help needs to be close at hand. So,enriching the community bonds through localised trade helps to our social network and build bridges of understanding.

Owning a large property is huge responsibility


Because large properties have heavy maintenance requirements and the cost of neglect increases the risk of disasters such as fire, a community management team can help share this responsibility. So,owners can combine resources for tree loping, noxious weeds control, soil erosion management, water pollution filtration, and emergency response.

Elders adopt the ‘benefactor’ model

Self reliant elders

There is also opportunity for inter-generational learning where elders share their productive skills whilst mentoring young people. So, the sharing of resources, skills and know-how begins to create a closer-knit community. Also, it reduces waste.

Specifically, this ‘benefactor’ model works well for Polyface farms and many other rural communities. As a result, a succession of skilled people in a specialist field is ensured.

Permaculture values people as much as our environment.

Build your own self-reliance skills. Enrol with us today.

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