When I was growing up, my mate Dave’s dad had the best lawn I’ve (still) ever seen. It was glorious! Now, Dave’s dad was a big, burly bloke, who happened to be a steelworker, and his attention to his lawn was surprising to me. But this lawn stood as testament to the enormous amount of time and effort that he put into it. It was truly immaculate. As far as I could tell, it was the purest, most perfect lawn that has ever existed.
One day, when I went over to Dave’s house, I was horrified to see the whole lawn completely dead. I immediately assumed some sort of sabotage from a lawn care rival down the street, but it turned out that Dave’s dad was convinced that his lawn was hopelessly riddled with weeds and couldn’t be salvaged. His only choice, it seems, was to nuke it and to start from scratch.
Continue reading Pioneer Plants & The Kingdom of God
Sometimes, it just doesn’t work.
Sometimes, no matter how deeply you’ve studied a site — spending a whole year mapping out seasonal changes, the path of the sun, rainfall and water flows, etc., etc. — and no matter how much you’ve studied soil conditions and plant possibilities in order to find the best possible solution, it just doesn’t work.
Sometimes, plants that, on paper, should thrive in precisely the conditions you’ve identified, die with (what seems like) no good reason.
This can be really disappointing and deflating — especially if you’ve spent quite a lot on a particular plant(!).
Continue reading Permaculture & Playful Failure
In a permaculture garden, a significant amount of thought is given to how the individual elements work together — all towards the goal of ‘closed loops’ (i.e. self-sustaining systems) and the best possible yields (a system where each element properly plays its part can be incredibly productive!).
Continue reading Integrated Design & Human Communities
This is the second in a series of posts drawing out some of the applications and implications of permaculture principles for life, work, and mission (you can find the first post here: “Food Forests and Change Management”).
In this post, I want to look at the concept (and practice) of Observation — which happens to be the first principle of permaculture (as articulated by one of the ‘fathers’ of permaculture, David Holmgren).
It’s a simple but profound thought: you need to know the site before you start designing your garden/food forest/whatever. If you don’t adequately understand what you’re working with, you’ll no doubt run into trouble later on due to unsuitable plant selection, misplacement of structures, unhelpful drainage, and a whole host of other problems. You need to know the site before you do anything, and then start interacting with it slowly.
Continue reading The Power of Observation
I’ve been thinking for a while about some of the natural applications/implications of permaculture thinking (a whole-of-system approach to sustainable living) to all areas of life, and thought I’d tease out some of those ideas here. Of course, thinking through such applications/implications is actually a core part of permaculture thinking — even though it’s most often applied to gardening — so none of this is new. I think, though, that there might be some left-of-field connections that might not often be seen.
The first one concerns ‘food forests’ and possible application to change management or the strategic implementation of a vision.
Continue reading Food Forests & Change Management
A few months ago I mentioned that I was seeking to focus my attention for 2014 on three streams of thought (and practice), and the interaction and overlap between them. Those streams were missional thinking and practice, the spirituality and practice on nonviolence, and the principles of permaculture. You can find the original post here.
In this post, I’d like to tease out some of the connections—especially in the overlap between missional thinking and practice and the principles of permaculture—by way of an idea that I’ve been thinking about for a number of years now. The idea has not come to fruition for at least a couple of reasons (that I won’t go into here), but I wanted to put the idea out there both as (what I think is) a good illustration of what I’m talking about, and for anyone who might be interested in trying to implement something similar.
Continue reading Suburban Permaculture as Missional Living
I’ve set myself the goal for 2014 of centering my thinking specifically around three spheres of thought, and the possible overlaps between them.
These spheres of thought are missional thinking and practice, the spirituality and practice of nonviolence, and the principles of permaculture. Things always look more interesting in Venn diagrams, so I’ve included one here:
Continue reading Intersecting Thoughts Roadmap for 2014: Missional/Nonviolence/Permaculture