A lot of us know the three ethics of permaculture, care of the land, care for the future, and care of people. There are a few different versions of this but I’ll leave that for later discussion.
What I want to discuss is the 12 principles of permaculture. The first one is “observe and interact”. It’s the first because it’s the first thing you should do when planning to create a permaculture lifestyle, garden, home, farm, food forest, or any other aspect of permaculture. That seems a lot, right. Heck, I just want to create a permaculture garden, ok? You might create a garden using techniques found in permaculture but without the inclusion of the 3 ethics and 12 principles, it’s not permaculture.
Now, let’s get back to the first principle, Observe and Interact. What exactly does that mean?
Some have said that you should observe your land for at least a year before making any changes. But, what are you looking for? And, is the always possible when you move onto a piece of land and need to start producing asap so you can eat?
My take on the observe part also means you should understand the forces that can come to play on that piece of land. Observe where the wind comes from. What could it be carrying? For instance, it could be carrying moisture from a large body of water, dust from a barren field, potential toxins for adjacent fields. Does it rise and fall or rip across flat land. Does it carry pollen or seeds from a distant forest or commercial farm? Does it change direction like the seasons? Is it different depending on the time of day?
This is just one aspect of what should be observed, not to mention water flow, rain frequency, sun direction, elevation, type of soil, wildlife, domestic animals and many more too numerous to describe here.
What other things should you observe?
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