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Permaculture as a Means of Sustainable Living and Survival

Emergency preparedness is a necessary reality in today’s world. The ever-changing climate and terrorist threats mean that our food and water supply, and therefore our survival, could be compromised at any time without notice. It is up to us to prepare ourselves to be able to survive if there is a disaster by storing water, survival food and supplies. We can also incorporate some of the principles of Permaculture into our emergency preparedness.Simply put, Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability. It is an understanding of the relationships between elements in nature and the ecology of how things interrelate. The system is laid out in zones to use minimal energy and effort to live sustainably, with each zone supporting the others. There are three core values that remain constant, whatever a person’s situation:

  1. Earthcare: recognizing Earth as the source of all life and recognizing that mankind is part of Earth, not apart from it.
  2. Peoplecare: supporting and helping each other live in ways that harm neither ourselves nor the planet and develop healthy societies.
  3. Fairshare : using Earth’s limited natural resources in ways that are equitable and wise.

While not all of us are willing to go to the extremes of Permaculture as laid out in the book Permaculture One, written by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (Transworld Publishers, Australia 1978), we can integrate some of their concepts for more sustainable living and less use of outside resources. Try these ideas:

    •Minimize your ecological footprint. Work to contain your sprawl, and that of your community, into nature.•Become less reliant on fossil fuels. Think about how to use passive solar power to your advantage. Ride a bicycle or use human powered devices when able.•Use renewable resources that have been recycled, salvaged, or minimally processed.•Use animals such as chickens or goats for eggs, milk, cheese and meat, weed control, and fertilizer.•Capture rain water to use for irrigation and watering animals. It will also serve as a good source for water in an emergency when run through water filters.•Compost all of your organic material to use as fertilizer and top soil. This will also greatly reduce your impact on landfills.•Try beekeeping or set up simple blocks to encourage mason bees to pollenate your plants.•Work towards a very low maintenance landscape. Take advantage of the unique nature of your environment.•Value diversity in your natural environment. It reduces it’s vulnerability to a variety of threats and disease.

If you are wanting to delve even deeper into Permaculture ideas, read Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison (Tagari Press, Australia.) This book explains how to design and lay out buildings and gardens to maximize your property’s efficiency.Permaculture reminds us to look at the whole system or challenge, observe how all the parts relate, plan to mend inefficient systems, and see the connection between key parts. Ask yourself if all the parts of your emergency preparedness plan are as efficient as they can be and if they work together.-Gary Jenkins-Gary Jenkins is a father and husband living in Oregon who is a wildlife rehabilitation and outdoor adventure enthusiast.

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