Peter Bane – How I’m Preparing for the Local Future: Permaculture

Permie Peter Bane discusses permaculture as a philosophy and form of knowledge that enables self-sufficiency.  He suggests that permaculture has worked through grassroots education and self-education.  Capitalism has hollowed out the home as a site of production, and permaculture aims to re-establish the home as an economic unit; it’s about returning to (or moving forward to) subsistence: the ability to derive food/heat/water/etc and relate to your neighbours.  Permaculture can tap into biology in a more sophisticated way [than traditional peoples].  These are many old arts, he says, that have been “recollected” from traditional peoples and “our own” history, combined with modern science and engineering insights, and empirical work and experimentation.

Food and animals have been globalized, but it hasn’t been intentional.  Permaculture wants to be more intentional about these combinations and find new plants/animals to exploit.

He discusses some basic permaculture strategies and the attempt to mimic forest ecosystems in our agriculture.  He argues that contemporary agriculture is basically about cultivating domesticated weeds, which require constant disturbance.  What’s needed is more perennial agriculture, less disturbance.

He suggests that moving to permaculture at a large scale would require lots more gardeners/farmers, and suggests that unemployed people (“surplus labour”) could be funnelled into farming.  1/6 or 1/7 people need to be farming/gardening so that the rest of us can eat.

More of us can implement permaculture now: “we” have plumbing, arable land, and can be gardening our landscapes to grow more food.  He argues that we need more forests to capture carbon and prevent climate change from spiraling out of control.  We still have access to fossil fuels now, and we should use it for strategic interventions: earthworks, ponds/lakes, sustainable buildings, renewable energy infrastructure (like greenhouses).

He spends the last 1/3 describing his own suburban farm and what they’ve been working on there.


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