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The principles of permaculture

Some people may recognise it as ecological or regenerative agriculture, others as a hippy movement. But permaculture goes far beyond the realms of conventional farming to offer natural and healing alternatives for the environment and society.

From its origins as theory-based permaculture by Australian naturalist Bill Mollison in the '70s, permaculture is now an international movement and applied design system.

Permaculture in action

The principles

The permaculture practice operates around three main ethical principles – care of the earth, care of people, fair share. A need exists to invest in the world-wide adoption of permaculture to regenerate what has been destroyed by generations of chemical fertiliser and pesticide usage. This chemical-based monoculture approach to farming has been responsible for the depletion of the world soils, destruction of habitats and also has detrimental health and financial implications for farmers. The earth now struggles to sustain itself due to the destructive cycles of this ‘modern’ approach.

Permaculture (aka permanent agriculture) insists on working with, rather than against nature. It’s built around studying the patterns of ecology, then mimicking these patterns to transform deserts into productive ecosystems. This is done by observing the diverse functions of each species and understanding how they complement each other to create closed-loop, species-rich food forests. The leafy branch of a coconut tree may be essential shade for an understory species. The nitrogen-fixing roots from a moringa tree provide the nutrients needed and absorbed by cover crops. A balanced ecosystem ensures a long-term, regenerative system which is also productive for humans needs.

Finding a balance

The majority of the world’s supermarket fruit and vegetables are grown in the developing world, passed through processors and distributors before ending up on our plates. This often forces farming families to sacrifice their own food security for little income through cash crops. Through the adoption of this alternative approach, smallholder farmers are able to grow the family’s annual medicine, food and cash crops in a back garden. Moreover, a species-rich system enables a nutritious balance in the family diet for improved wellbeing.

With the ethics and practice of permaculture at its core, The Sustainable Lush Fund (SLush) has helped to create organic alternatives for farming networks, develop permaculture demonstration sites and training centres, and set up income generating projects from scratch. With the evolution of the SLush fund into the Lush Regeneration Fund (RE:Fund) the stories of inspiring people doing inspiring things will continue to be told, but in a slightly different way. The RE:Fund is about finding ways to not only stop causing damage to nature but to repair the damage that has already been done because sometimes sustainability just isn’t enough. Through the RE:Fund Lush will continue to collaborate on further regeneration projects by establishing regenerative communities with the simple message of ‘pass it on’.

"A balanced ecosystem ensures a long term, regenerative system which is also productive for humans needs."

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