The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see. Winston Churchill*
August has come.
For farmers, knowing the climate and the weather is important. It is how you can make decisions to efficiently manage the resources of your property.
And this is where water comes in, as much as farmers want to be in the middle, weather has its extremes—it can be a season of prolonged drought or severe floods.
This has become one of the most argued issues as its causes and effects are heavily intertwined by multiple factors, sectors, and even other socio-political issues.
But to simplify things, the larger your property, the greater power you have to effectively manage water even with lower operational costs—and that is where permaculture comes in.
In smaller spaces, it doesn't mean you can't do permaculture, it only means that the smaller the ratio of adjacent spaces dedicated to nature, the more expensive and harder it is to manage water.
How Nature Works
We do not know how nature evolves on a global scale for millennia to come. We can create computer simulations and make smarter guesses, but those are just speculations until nature does what it does.
But to simplify things, again, in prolonged absence of human activity, both direct and indirect, nature heals itself. The elements of nature and other creatures regrow what used to be barren or neglected.
The wind, birds, and other creatures disperse seeds which the seeds sprout and grow wherever they can survive giving sustenance to a more inhabitants. Shrubs and seedlings slowly dominates the grassland. In decades, trees towers over the land.
Once the trees establish and dominate, water is secured as trees invites rain and stores rainwater. This environment can host a larger biodiversity creating a sustainable niche that can thrive for millennia to come.
And this natural phenomenon is what we should mimic—not industrial and large-scale monocropping. In the age of modern agriculture, we have have been programmed to eat what has been produced in massive amounts even if we do not need it, creating even more demand for it.
The Manufactured Demand
It is a tight web between the government, the agricultural industry, the healthcare industry, the food and beverage industry, and the consumers, where at least one is sufferring more than it can benefit. It can encompass a wide variety of products and services, but let me focus more on the food and beverage industry.
While we think we have freedom and rights, our educational system and the media, among others, dictates what we consume in our lifetime and highly likely, consumers will pick what is placed on the shelves of the supermarket even if we don't really need it.
Do we need it? No. But nine out of 10 mascots recommend a highly processed Product X. And it far more difficult when it has become the norm and kids grow up not knowing it is not good for them, until they are sufferring the consequences of unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
By no means that I also dictate what you eat, it is wholly up to you to research on what you deem good for your or to your family.
Going Backwards to Permaculture
It is hard when it is the experts talks about how science and math should lead the way and not random people on the streets. Experts has lead the world for centuries and some really has destroyed the world instead.
The problem with vertical farming is it is not sustainable, they think they can fill the demand for lettuce, et cetera, but no, really, lettuce is low in nutritional value.
With permaculture, we can go back local and and make sustainability as a long-term commitment. Food forests and permaculture farms can offer variety of produce that are fresh and highly nutritious.
It doesn't mean banning of import and export, it just means to eat more locally grown and seasonal produce over resource-intensive industrial practices that harms nature, the nearby communities, and the world in general.
In food forests and permaculture farms, mimicking nature doesn't mean going primitive, innovations are still in practice, and even technology can boost it but with lesser negative impacts to the ecosystem, the community, and the world.
Growing a Permaculture Garden
Growing sustainably doesn't need to be complex or esoteric. You don't need to be an expert or spiritual, let it be just begin as an extension of your modern life and not a daily burden.
Whatever the size of your space, ranging from your window sill to an urban garden, from a backyard garden to a large homestead, permaculture does not discriminate. Permaculture must be a communal effort to grow diverse crops (and animals) to augment economic needs that benefits both nature and the community—and not as a secretive society to negatively disrupt the economy.
The best gear is always research first and apply the learnings as you go, we can limit failures, but it is part of the practice, your microclimate and property is unique and it in you to discover what works and what doesn't.
While some advocates endemic species, it will not hurt to (legally) introduce a variety of crops, ornamental plants, and farm animals—but as always, consult first to avoid issues in your community or with the authorities especially with animal waste or with potentially invasive species.
Last July, a huge effort was put into fixing damaged raised-beds and in planting of fruit tree seedlings. It was a lone and laborious activity, though, quite rewarding to see improvements after the super storms and floods.
The changing weather patterns also brought a positive effect to the orchard, specifically to the garden. I was able to successfully grow Alliums and it is doing quite well!
In farming, it easy to give up whenever you fail especially if you have developed ways to compare yourself with other successful gardeners or farmers. But one thing, it is not a competition. You grow for your household and your are building food security, not for a leaderboard.
One thing I also learned, is permaculture and practical sustainabilty is not about getting it perfect at the first try. We are just bound to whatever resources we have, if you can use fertilizer, then okay, if not, then heal the soil through sustainable methods—it can take longer, but it is worth the wait!
As an advice to any fellow stewards of sustainability, is to research, study your results, and document whatever input or changes you have in your property to have a solid reference for future plans and strategies.
|Clearing the Damage After the Storm |
Instead of falling into anxiety, it took time to make use of what the storm had given.
@oniemaniego is a software developer, but outside work, he experiments in the kitchen, writes poetry and fiction, paints his heart out, or toils under the hot sun.
|Onie Maniego / Loy Bukid was born in rural Leyte. He often visits his family orchards during the summers and weekends, which greatly influenced his works.|
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