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Permaculture at Bogata Suma
"Permaculture" as a vision of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren started as PERMAnent agriCULTURE.
However, since the principles can be applied to anything in life, it is now more thought of as PERMAnent CULTURE.
What is permaculture?
Permaculture is a design method to make life easier. It can be used to design gardens, buildings, towns, water management, human culture and even financial systems, to create a sustainable future.
Permaculture gathered the best practises from around the world to design for maximum benefit. It brings together many sustainable ideas and ethics for permanent solutions.
12 permaculture design principles
David Holmgren wrote down 12 permaculture design principles, "thinking tools", that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour in a world of less energy and resources.
Pictures of permaculture principles:
1. Observe & Interact
2. Catch & Store Energy
3. Obtain A Yield
4. Apply Self-regulation & Accept Feedback
5. Use & Value Renewable Resources & Services
6. Produce No Waste
7. Design From Patterns To Details
8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate
9. Use Small & Slow Solutions
10. Use & Value Diversity
11. Use Edges & Value The Marginal
12. Creatively Use & Respond To Change
Permaculture uses at our place
Since we came from city life and had very little knowledge about living from the land in harmony with nature, we started our life here with a year of observing (principles 1 and 12) and learning the basics. We got to know our terrain and were suprised by the diversity of growth! It surely was a "Rich Forest"!
We decided to start with transforming the "ruin" on our terrain into a comfortable, smart, low maintenance house (principles 2: catch & store energy and 5: use & value renewable resources).
We did that by replacing almost all windows by doors, for easy access and more natural light in the house. During the day we don't need to turn on lights (principle 4 Apply self regulation and accept feedback).
Our electricity still comes from the grid, but at the top floor we started with solar panels to provide us with electricity for laptops and phone charging (principle 5 Use & value renewable resources).
The house is insulated by strawbales, wood and wool and has big windows to catch the warmth of the sun in winter (self regulation & renewable resources). Heating (only necessary from October to April) we do with wood stoves. The wood ash is used as fertilizer on the terrain and in the chicken coop to get rid of mites (principle 6: Produce no waste).
We aim to produce as small amount of waste as we can (principle 6 Produce no waste).
We reuse glass that comes into our house for our home made jams and wines, with old paper we make paper bricks to burn in the wood stove, old clothes we give away or are used as rags. Food leftovers go to the dog or cats, compost goes to the rabbits or the chickens. With old car oil we paint the wooden constructions on our terrain and old metal goes to the scrap yard.
We don't use much electrical equipment; we do a lot by hand (principles 5 & 9). We don't need an electricity consuming vacuum cleaner because all floors can be swept and the rugs we use in winter, can be aired.
Permaculture & Food
Our ecological vegetable garden has small, usually round beds with a big variety (principle 10: Use & value diversity) of colorful vegetable and herb combinations to help each other (principle 8: Integrate rather than segregate).
We have fresh vegetables all year round and we grow our own seeds for years to come.
We also grow a lot of edible flowers between the vegetables to spice up salads and atract even more bees.
When necessary, we bring a chicken into the garden to hunt bugs.
On a more sloping part we have built terraces to keep the nutrients in the soil.
Our young forest garden will (in the future) provide us with more fruits and herbs. We designed a nice area and we're setting it up as a self regulating eco system now (principle 4: apply self-regulation). We're propagating our herbs and berry shrubs to fill up the gaps. In this way it takes more time to get a mature food forest, but it saves a lot of money (principle 9: use small & slow solutions).
Our food savanna is not only meant to give us more fruits (and nuts), but also to attract more birds that keep snails and slugs from the garden.
Part of the food savannah is the branches wall that acts as a compost generating fence. In winter we feed the wall with our tree prunings (principle 8: integrate rather than segregate), in summer the raspberries and Japanese wineberries use it to climb on.
Eventually this grassland with trees and shrubs will grow more dense, into a food forest.
The old plum orchard has a net and pan system for catching runoff rainwater.
Permaculture and water management
The rain water we catch is now only used in the garden and by the animals, as drinking water. In the future we want to use part of the rain water as shower water, and part of it can go to the grey water cleaning swim pond.
We already have pipes going from the house down the hill, to an open spot in the forest where we dug a pond. The pipes collect rainwater, bath water and kitchen water (not the toilet water), that will be cleaned first by sand, then by charcoal, and after that by waterplants in the pond.
>> More about the natural swim pond