Lifestyles

Garden Club: Permaculture, working with Mother Nature

We have officially been in winter for almost a month now. Gardens have been put too bed and spring bulbs planted and mulched in anticipation of a beautiful show when they awake from winter sleep. But just a minute ... not everything is sleeping! Gardeners who planted winter veggie crops in late summer are well on their way to, or already are, enjoying the ‘greens’ of their labor.

Indeed, when it comes to growing food, we could all stand to become a bit more self-sufficient. A good first step would be to take note of and reflect on what is going on around us and in our garden, and learn from Mother Nature herself. This is ‘permaculture’: designing and working with a plan that mimics the natural process of nature. Erik Bjornsen, Victoria landscape specialist and advocate for food security and sustainability, puts it this way, “Permaculture can help you understand how to holistically turn your garden and landscape into an abundant natural ecosystem. It can also create huge benefits, not only for your garden, but for you personally.”

The word ‘permaculture’ was coined in the late 1970s by an Australian university professor, Bill Mollison, and his grad student, David Holmgren. They had concluded that industrial-agricultural methods were poisoning the land and water, reducing biodiversity, and removing billions of tons of topsoil from previously fertile landscapes. Permaculture initially meant ‘permanent agriculture’ but was soon expanded to mean ‘permanent culture,’ incorporating social aspects that were deemed integral to a truly sustainable system. In short, permaculture can be viewed as the harmonious integration of people into the landscape, allowing the land to grow in richness, productivity and beauty. It’s a philosophy that draws people to work with rather than against nature.

Permaculture is the topic of this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club, and Erik Bjornsen is guest speaker. Educated and long-experienced in field of permaculture, Erik will discuss the principles underlying this philosophy and explain, among other things, how using this approach can reduce the amount of work needed to maintain a garden while simultaneously increasing the garden’s productivity.

If you are interested in growing food, creating habitat for pest control, working smarter rather than harder, conserving water, creating your own mulch and fertilizer, and sitting back and watching a healthy ecosystem unfold before your eyes ... then permaculture will be of interest to you! And what better time to start planning for the growing year ahead, including next winter’s veggie crops?

Please join us Wednesday, January 22, 7:30 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road.

Existing memberships are due for renewal, and new members are always welcome. Annual fee is $15. Enjoy informative presentations and discussions, in-house plant sales and parlour shows, summer garden parties, and the camaraderie of others who share an interest in gardening. For more information, email sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone Rose at 250-642-5509.

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