What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an integrated design system based on ecological principles that create resource efficient and productive human environments. Permaculture provides a framework for consciously designed landscapes that mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature. Theses systems yield an abundance of shelter, water, energy, and food for the provision of local needs that provide diversity, stability, and resilience for local populations. Permaculture design basics include: integrated design, micro-climate strategies, zone and sector analysis and energy efficiency. 

Permaculture Principles 

Permaculture does not necessarily mean growing your own food, although that is a possible form of using permaculture. It can also mean providing a niche product or service within a group. On our farm the main aim is to provide our own food (subsistence farming) while following the principles of permaculture. Some principles of permaculture are: 

  • Observe nature and integrate your observations of your environment into your plan: take good notes and learn from your experience

  • Plan the whole, then go into detail

  • Use changes to your advantage; respond to the unexpected with practical creativity; integrate rather than destroy

  • Produce no garbage: reduce, reuse, recycle, low level of consuming / high level of composting 

  • Collect and store energy: use and protect renewables/ energy-awareness

  • Retain water on your property for as long as possible and make it work for you

  • Use border zones and value the marginal 

  • Protect, enhance, and make use of biodiversity 

  • Bring in a harvest: humans must be benefited, as well as nature

  • Maximize multiple use: anything you do should serve many purposes simultaneously 

  • Know your limits: set your boundaries and accept these

In Harmony with Nature 

Permaculture means benefitting humans in a way that goes hand in hand with nature. In our version of permaculture, all life forms are equal. However, sometimes we destroy something natural in order to create something new, some thing better (more diverse, serving more purposes, benefitting more life-forms with greater stability). 

Biodiversity

Permaculture for us means molding the natural environment in a way that adheres to nature's principles, yet creates a greater diversity while providing for human needs. For example, if you let a forest go wild here in Switzerland, it will end up with LESS biodiversity and will not provide enough food to support humans. Permaculture philosophy teaches us to find a way to work with nature in order to nurture ourselves as we create a diverse system that can adapt readily to change.
The benefits of biodiversity include:
  • Optimal usage of light, water, minerals Through the right combination of plants, insects, animals and humans, all available resources contribute to the cycle of life.
  • Protection agains erosion.  A variety of surfaces, obstacles, and substances reduce the negative effects of wind and water and prevent the escalation of damaging extremes. This is especially important to conserving soil.
  • Increased flexibility for a more secure future.  Like a natural insurance policy, a diverse ecological system can more easily adapt to extreme temperatures, drought or flood, pests, and disease.
     

On our Farm

At Schmid's Permaculture Farm we:

  • Estimate our yearly food needs.
     

  • Plan gardens of annuals and inspect perenials to meet those seasonal needs.
     

  • Collect seeds/tubers from our own crop in order to provide for the following year.
     

  • Record weather and other factors such as insects or predators, that affect our crops or produce. We then find ways to work with these factors, not agains them.
     

  • Plant, tend to and harvest as many traditional and local fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs as possible, as well as limited animal products such as eggs or goat milk, to create security through a hearty biodiversity in case of drought or plague.
     

  • Process or store these products properly in order to provide food throughout the year.
     

  • Treat all our animals as beloved family members and do our best to assure their health, comfort and happiness as they each contribute to our farm in their own way.
     

  • Secure and maintain drinking water as well as water for our gardens through the upkeep of our well and maximum collection of rainwater. We also maintain two small ponds for wild-life, keeping water levels stable through the use of rooftop-rainwater-collection and well-water run-off. These ponds are beneficial to amphibiens (frogs, etc.) reptiles (snakes), over 20 kinds of birds and our many wild animals, including a fox, badger, deer and even a lynx.
     

  • Save and produce soil. We rotate our gardens and crops; plant green cover plants to reduce erosion when they are not in use; build wind barriers using trees and hedges; compost our garden waste, animal hay-bedding, and human waste, using these appropriately to produce humus.
     

  • Make the most of the sunshine and warmth through the use solar panels, stone walls, the walls of buildings, various greenhouses, a dehydrator, a solar oven, and by careful placement of trees, bushes and gardens to use the sun as well as shade properly.
     

  • Estimate our yearly energy needs and chop the necessary wood for cooking and heating. We make sure our needs do not exceed the natural growth of our forest:  our one hectar provides 8-9 cubic meters of wood per year and we consume and average of 5-6 cubic meters for fire- and cooking-wood. 
     

  • Continually rediscover our connection to nature, deepen our understanding of its needs and learn to live more and more in harmony with our surroundings while enjoying life to its fullest!

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