Permaculture: a holistic approach to life

When we tell people we practise permaculture, we usually get some questions. The interesting thing is the type of questions we are asked. Usually the person asking us has a plant or tree that has some sort of disease and we are asked what they can do about it. It is interesting how we are all so indoctrinated into thinking that someone who works with nature, plants and animals should just know how to treat something that is diseased without doing any further research or knowing the circumstances…

We are so used to go to a doctor with our own ailments and being given a prescription of something or other which will “fix” the symptom, and we expect the same for our plants, trees and animals. Holistic medicine is becoming more popular these days, and people are starting to understand that they have to research and look at the cause behind the symptom. However, even some holistic medicine practitioners still seem to think that there should be a blanket cure for symptoms of disease in plants or animals (or soil, or other non-human life…) This attitude is one of the reasons our planet is in such a mess.

As with the human system, other natural systems also suffer under stress. This stress can be caused by lots of different factors, as in humans. We as permaculturalists are holistic practitioners, and we need to look at improving the natural environment for all elements in a system, thus improving the health of each individual element. It takes time to truly understand how to look at everything holistically, as we have been brought up in a culture of band aid solutions to everything. We also want results overnight and we tend to forget that nature works in a different time to humans. The human life span is only around 70-80 years if we are lucky. Trees can grow for hundreds or thousands of years… For nature to produce fossil fuel took millions of years! Quick fixes always have a cost, and the cost gets higher and higher every time we take a short cut.

We have to understand that we need to fix the foundation before we can build more. And this will not happen overnight, and maybe even not in our lifetime! We have to understand that EVERY action has a reaction. And usually that reaction is bigger than we can even imagine and will ever know. We need to climb out of the box and start seeing life and its elements in a holistic, interactive and integrated swirl of patterns that it is. Bandaids are obsolete, we need to move towards an age of holistic practitioners and thinkers, who can see how everything is connected.

So next time, if you have a plant or tree that is diseased, study its environment; soil, water, its companions, its position and all other factors and elements that may cause it stress. Improve its health by targeting any stressful factors and keep observing. Permaculture is observing nature. Observing nature is a holistic practice. It involves time and patience. And it is a continual learning process.


©2017 Zaia;, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast Inc., simplicity, permaculture, self reliance, self sufficiency, sustainability, food, health and homesteading; Permaculture: looking at life holistically

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