Permaculture in South Africa

Permaculture, a term created by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in 1970, is defined as a “consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organize themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture”.

Because South Africa is still a developing country with many townships that still face hardships, Permaculture is an effective way of producing agricultural products and other services. As reknown Permaculture designer Larry Santoyo famously states, “people don’t do Permaculture, you use it in what you do.” Therefore there are many applications.

Permaculture in South Africa can help further maximize biological solutions to human needs

Permaculture is based on sustainability and the support this sustainability receives. Permaculture focuses on the use of what is available as well as the implementation of cultures and agricultural methods.

Because what is available is used, no money is spent on modern machinery. Instead, people are used, creating not only jobs, but learning people invaluable farming skills.

Organic farming is at the top of Permaculture’s aims, as it is a concept that considers the environment and the influence we have on it.

Imagine a rural township. Shops are far away and people need to walk for kilometers to reach a place to buy vegetables. Yes, there are small stores, but they are expensive and do not have the healthy range of produce many urban markets have.

Imagine land that is cultivated and land that produces agricultural crops. The people from the township or village work there. They are paid in terms of food and this food in turn feeds his or her family. Others start their own gardens and can sell or trade produce from their gardens for services or even money.

Trade can be done not only involving money, but services as well. Something like five potatoes for a haircut to put it very simply. Permaculture can, in rural communities, start and further develop sustainability.

If you have a big imagination and can see permaculture catch on and spread, it will have many great benefits. If people can survive with ease in their villages and communities, they will not have to move to cities, relieving the economical and environmental pressures put on cities.

It is something catching on in South Africa. One of many results is the Bonteheawel Environmental Forum as well as The Market Place, which sell locally produced agricultural products and the Wellness Natural and Organic Market.

Courses on Permaculture design is also offered to further promote the advantages of this initiative. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN

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