Building Your Permaculture Property

Permaculture isn’t just about farming – it’s a way of thinking that learns from nature’s patterns. It’s like teaming up with nature instead of trying to control it. Instead of rushing into things without a plan, permaculture encourages careful observation and consideration.

In their book “Building Your Permaculture Property: A Five-Step Process to Design and Develop Land,” authors Takota Coen, Rob Avis, and Michelle Avis take you through the entire journey.

Building Your Permaculture

They lay out a simple roadmap to turn any property into a place that’s not just a home, but also practical, eco-friendly, and ready for whatever comes its way.

Introduction

In the beginning of the book, the authors give us a peek into what’s ahead. They lay out the reasons behind the book and who they’re speaking to. They want us to know that this isn’t just for people with massive estates – it’s for anyone, no matter the property size.

It’s crystal clear that this isn’t a book with shortcuts. They stress that it’s a full-fledged process that demands dedication, hard work, and patience.

You can read the book below:

Step 1: Clarify Vision, Resources, and Values

The starting point of the journey involves getting a crystal-clear view of your aspirations, the resources at hand, and the principles that steer your choices. It’s about defining your permaculture property’s purpose, taking stock of what you’ve got, and setting your moral compass.

The authors hand over a bunch of tools and exercises to make this part smoother. These include a ‘needs and yields analysis,’ as well as a ‘vision and values one-pager.’ They’re like guides to help you sort out your thoughts.

But they also provide some caution signs. They steer you away from common traps, like diving into the ‘what’ before understanding the ‘why.’ They also highlight language pitfalls, like leaning on future tense too much.

Plus, they remind you not to see yourself as separate from the ecosystem.

This step’s a biggie – it’s the foundation that the rest of the process leans on. Without this clear vision and a grip on your resources and values, the later steps could feel like wandering without a map.

Step 2: Diagnose Your Resources

The second step involves diagnosing your resources for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

This includes making observations about your resources using four variables: patterns, form, timing, and placement. The authors provide a detailed chart with descriptors that fit each mode.

They also introduce the concept of SWOT analysis, where you make value-based judgments about each resource.

Strengths and weaknesses are attributes within your project, while opportunities and threats are outside your project but close enough to have an impact.

This step is about understanding your current situation and identifying areas for improvement. It’s about taking stock of what you have and what you need, and identifying opportunities and threats in your environment.

Step 3: Design Your Resources

The third step is to design your resources to meet your vision and values. The authors emphasize that designs are not fixed in stone and should be flexible enough to accommodate improvements.

They also clarify that design is not just about aesthetics, but is structural, functional, and also beautiful.

The authors introduce two useful methods of design: the needs and yields analysis and the sector analysis.

Both methods are carefully explained and are designed to ensure that every need of every element is fully met within your system and that every yield is fully used.

This step is about creating a design that aligns with your vision and values and maximizes the use of your resources.

It’s about creating a system that is efficient, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing.

Step 4: Implement the Right Design

The fourth step is to implement the right design that will most improve your weakest resource.

The authors note that the ‘dirty little secret of permaculture’ is that design is the easy part, and it’s the implementation that’s challenging.

They provide a range of tools and strategies to help readers organize their workflow, make weekly plans, and make good decisions.

They also emphasize the importance of not rushing to get to your goal in what looks like the fastest way, as this can lead to problems if tasks are tackled in a poor order.

This step is about taking action and making your design a reality. It’s about overcoming challenges, staying organized, and making progress towards your vision.

Step 5: Monitor Your Resources

The final step is to monitor your resources for indicators of wellbeing or suffering. The authors stress that you can only manage what you measure, but you can measure more things than you can manage.

They provide a range of tools and strategies for monitoring, including keeping a journal, using indicators of early signs of success or failure, and monitoring your ecosystems. They also share personal stories and insights, such as Takota’s experience of figuring out when and why his cows got mastitis and making a small change that increased wellbeing and prevented mastitis from then on.

This step is about ongoing management and adjustment. It’s about learning from your experiences, making improvements, and ensuring that your system continues to align with your vision and values.

Key Takeaways

One of the key messages of the book is the importance of a holistic approach to permaculture.

It’s not just about implementing specific gardening techniques, but about designing and managing a property in harmony with the ecosystem. This involves careful planning, thoughtful decision-making, and ongoing monitoring and adjustment.

The authors emphasize the importance of aligning your actions with your values. They encourage readers to clarify their vision and values, and to make decisions that are in line with these. This includes considering the ethical implications of your actions, and striving to create a property that is not only productive, but also sustainable and beneficial to the wider ecosystem.

The book also highlights the importance of learning from mistakes and being open to change. The authors share their own experiences of trial and error, and emphasize that successful permaculture is a process of continuous learning and adaptation.

Reception

The book has been well-received, with readers praising its practical approach and comprehensive coverage of permaculture principles. It has an average rating of 4.24 out of 5 on Goodreads, based on 51 ratings and 22 reviews.

One reviewer on the Sustainable Market Farming website described the book as a “valuable and realistic resource”, and praised the authors for their practical and committed approach to permaculture. The reviewer also noted that the book restored their faith in permaculture, and appreciated the authors’ emphasis on independent thought and a holistic approach.

Conclusion

“Building Your Permaculture Property: A Five-Step Process to Design and Develop Land” is a valuable resource for anyone interested in permaculture. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a newcomer to the field, this book provides a comprehensive and practical guide to transforming your property into a sustainable and resilient homestead. The authors’ commitment to permaculture principles, their practical approach, and their emphasis on independent thought and a holistic approach make this book a must-read for anyone interested in sustainable living.

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