Academic comment on permaculture literature and claims

Rather than making comment on the specifics of the article I have read on the need for research into claims made by the permaculture movement, it seems appropriate to let readers interested in an academic perspective make up their own minds on the content:

Permaculture for agroecology: design, movement, practice, and worldview. A review, Ferguson R.S. & Lovell, S.T., April 2014, Agronomy for sustainable development, Vol. 34, Issue 2, pp 251-274

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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6 Responses to Academic comment on permaculture literature and claims

  1. mybrightlife says:

    Thanks. I enjoyed reading this. I have friends who teach permaculture practices at locals schools and while I had a basic idea of that this actually means, this article has been most helpful in explaining this in further detail. I can’t help but wonder though if we are simply reinventing the wheel, because surely there must be plenty of examples of ancient subsistence farming practice where permaculture was simply being implemented as an almost ‘natural course of events? But then again if that is the case then it is perhaps time we started to reinvent… the question of course is, beyond forestry, how does one produce enough for the masses using these techniques unless we change how we eat altogether – and again – perhaps that is the only solution. Join the ‘cut the carb’ wagon and loose the grain and other mass crops. Olive oil replacing sunflower oil completely is a great example of this concept in action but who can afford it? So complex! BUT very interesting.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, very complex!

      Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Permaculture is perhaps ‘reinventing the wheel’ – but then again perhaps it is bringing together knowledge from different places which would make it easier for people to access. I think, though, that permaculture is fundamentally a design system and what you do within your design depends on what is appropriate in your own environment. Which is where some people become blinkered and pious because they start thinking in terms of one size fits all.

      On the note of ‘one size fits all’ I think future agriculture will be a mixture of many methods, as it is today. I’ve found from my own garden that polycultures and perennial crops (or self-seeded annuals) can be productive but as you mention there would be the loss of most carbs. Maybe that would be the healthy way to go but current thinking is that we do need these in our diet….

      Which means more research is needed, rather than hopes and claims. That said, on the subject of diet, I think there is plenty of research, not that there are any conclusions there, really (e.g. which fat is better, butter, margarine, coconut oil?).

      I like your reference to olive oil replacing sunflower oil. Not only does that mean more trees but if it is healthier, it seems like a win-win situation.

  2. many thanks for sharing have a blessed day

  3. A really interesting read. I’m sure there is plenty of space for scientific exploration of permaculture. As far as I understand it (I’ve never been able to afford to go on a permaculture course) each site is unique and the practices, plants, systems that are given predominance are choices made by the people working the land, preferably in response to the make up of that site.
    I would think that the extreme complexity of all of the interlinking factors (soil type, rainfall, micro-climates, etc.; existing plant growth and positioning, and all the rest; as well as the decisions based on sectors and zones, and just good old fashioned personal preference) would make scientific analysis extremely difficult… If meteorology is complex permaculture is more complex again. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Yes, definitely very complex! That said, if you broke it down into an analysis of one crop in one place, for example, you could begin to build a picture. What seems to be needed is more controlled experiments in longitudinal studies, I think.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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