Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
also involves deliberately choosing plants and animals which have more than one yield. An
example is the false acacia tree, which as well as being highly decorative can yield seeds
for chicken forage, flowers for bee forage, leaves for cattle forage, timber which is durable
without the need for preservatives, and increased soil fertility through nitrogen fixing.
. . . stacking two or more crops on the same piece of land, as in the forest garden. Anoth-
er example is growing sweetcorn and pumpkins together. The tall thin plant and the low
ground cover plant make use of different layers of the air space, so rather than competing
they complement each other and make fuller use of the available sunshine.
Producing enough food is only half the picture. Taking no more than our fair share is
equally important. Currently enough food is produced to feed everyone in the world, but
people are hungry because it is unfairly distributed.
A great deal of food is imported from the poor southern countries to the rich north, often
to pay for interest on their debts. Much of this is protein food, such as soya, which we feed
to our farm animals. Meanwhile, people in the south go hungry. We could make a good
start towards fairer shares by moderating our meat, milk and egg consumption to what we
can grow from our own resources.
It may work in the tropics, but can it work here?
People often point out that in our climate only a small range of plants can be grown com-
pared to warmer parts of the world, and that this is a limitation on permaculture. True, but it
is equally a limitation on conventional agriculture. The range of plants which can be grown
under either system is less in our climate. The contrast is really between the tropics and the
temperate lands, not between agriculture and permaculture.
The work of Robert Hart, the Hollins and Bruce Marshall is evidence enough that per-
maculture works here.
The idea that permaculture is more suited to the tropics sometimes arises from the mis-
conception that it is nothing more than forest gardening. A forest garden is a direct copy
of an ecosystem, but the way in which permaculture learns from ecosystems is not usually
so literal. The main lesson is that what makes an ecosystem work is useful connections
between its components. So a chicken-greenhouse or a field where wheat and clover grow
together are just as much permaculture as a forest garden is. So are food links, where the
connections are between people rather than between plants and animals.
Permaculture is also very much a matter of working with the land rather than imposing
our will on it; of carefully observing what the land has to offer and what it needs; of
tuning in to the unique nature of each locality; and of working with these insights to pre-
pare designs which meet the needs of both land and people. This can be done anywhere on
Earth, and there is a glaring need for it here in Britain.
Isn't permaculture just organic growing?
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