An Introduction to Permaculture by Maddy Harland

I am never happier than when I am out on the land in all seasons, observing the cycles of nature, growing plants or appreciating wild species, foraging responsibly, and feeling the grace of being alive at this time. I want to share this pathway to health and happiness with as many people as possible. The more we appreciate and celebrate the natural world, the more we will seek to not only conserve but to regenerate it. This way of life has a spiritual context – it is a ‘Medicine’ that will ultimately heal the Earth.

Permaculture is a toolkit to help you live a greener, more creative lifestyle. It is all about understanding the elements that make up your life and organising them so that you can create cycles of abundance rather than ‘sinks’ where energy pours away. Permaculture is based on observing Nature and decoding natural principles. It is both intuitive and a process of design. It is also very powerful!

We can apply this form of creative thinking to our gardens, and this is often the context in which permaculture is best understood, i.e. organic, perennial, and no-dig edible gardens that are full of biodiversity and food.

Permaculture, however, goes beyond the garden fence as natural principles and intelligent design can be applied to how we design or eco-retrofit our homes, renewable, money saving technologies, how we interact in our local community, or our local economy. Permaculture can also influence how we design enterprises, whether they are a private business or a charity. Natural principles are adaptable. The only limits in applying them are our imaginations!

I have tested this out for myself by growing a permaculture garden over two decades, designing a company, and being part of a wonderful educational charity at the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire. I have used permaculture to help design all three projects. It has been invaluable.

Permaculture is not all about design, however. Its framework is based on three ethics: Earth care, people care, and fair shares. They are not exclusive to permaculture, of course, but they provide a tangible form of navigation through life. They also ensure kindness in action.

The people who have had the greatest impact on me in the course of my life are not those who are wrathful and unkind, they are those who work from the heart and communicate the power of love in whatever they do. They are discriminating – able to see the truth of situations – and also able to acknowledge the good and hold the possibility of transformational change.

It is therefore my honour and pleasure to share with you this book by one such person, Glennie Kindred. It comes from the sincerity of her heart and engages us with practical, nurturing actions that can help us to connect on a deep level with nature, navigate the pathways to right thinking, and allow us to live a more constructive, abundant and creative life.

About Maddy Harland

Maddy Harland is editor and co-founder of Permaculture magazine – practical solutions beyond sustainability, and Permanent Publications, a publishing company dedicated to regenerative, ecological solutions. She helped set up the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire, once a military base, now a thriving learning centre, and is a co-founder of Gaia Education which developed the Ecovillage Design Education course endorsed by the UN. Maddy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is a Visiting Knowledge and Exchange Fellow at the Institute of Theological Partnerships at Winchester University.

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