What is Permaculture?

Permaculture: from Permanent Culture, a set of agricultural or social design principles which simulate or directly use the patterns and features of natural ecosystems and create gardens and communities which are sustainable and self-sufficient.

Permaculture offers a set of values and guiding principles we use to cultivate our garden in balance with nature. We choose to garden in this way because it builds up the resilience and productivity of the garden, making it a more complex and dynamic system which needs less resources and input from us.

Nasturtiums attract aphids

Nasturtiums attract aphids

One of the major differences between permaculture and organic gardening is the focus on long term stability in the system. For
example, in an organic garden we might spray for aphids with soapy water. Though effective and safe for humans, the spray can still harm other helpful insects in the garden and needs to be applied repeatedly. In a permaculture garden we could plant nasturtiums, which the aphids love to eat instead of our vegetables, and yarrow which helps attract lady bugs to eat the aphids. Our intention is to encourage nature to do the work for us and to find balance with the aphids.

In our garden program, we value the way permaculture integrates systems thinking, care and respect for nature, and collaboration. We animate the design principles and values in everything from how we plant our garden beds, to how we greet one another and make space for all voices. Our students can see permaculture working all around them in the garden, and experience it in the way we teach, work, and learn together. It is our hope that the ideas and values of permaculture carry forward with students beyond the garden and are tools we can all use to create a more just and sustainable future.

Learn more about Permaculture principles in action by joining other families at the Spring Garden Build – Saturday April 23rd 10 am to 2 pm. What a great way to get your family outdoors to celebrate Earth Day, and there will be pizza!

– by Tara Migliore-Potter