South Cariboo resident Rod Endacott recently gave a presentation on permaculture to the South Cariboo Sustainability Committee (SCSC).
The local landscaper has been spending his winters in Portland attending Oregon State University, and one of his courses was learning about permaculture.
So, what is permaculture?
That question is subject to many different answers and opinions, he explains.
“Inherent in the word ‘permaculture is ‘permanent culture’, and so, what is it that is permanent? We are coming to a time when we don’t know what is going to replace fossil fuel….”
Endacott says the defined and copyrighted word “permaculture” as invented by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s has associated documentation reflecting how things are done without dependence on fossil fuel – such as in nature.
Today, “permaculture” may refer to the natural care of land and animals, he explains, such as Aboriginals have done since the beginning of their time.
“Your grandfather [likely] did it. He fed the horses and took care of the land and collected the rain water.”
It is all about the footprint you leave on the land and all its inhabitants, and how you nurture the ecosystem, Endacott adds.
He says energy comes into a property in the form of water, sunshine, wind, natural gas, electricity, people, and so on, so permaculture harnesses that energy to glean as much benefit out of it with as little consumption as possible.
“You look at a setting, a piece of land, and a house, identify the energy that goes in and then figure out how to ‘slow it down’ and reuse it. That’s permaculture.”
This might be draining rain water into a barrel for the garden or to fill a pond, or “slowing down” fuel usage by further insulating your home or designing windows and roofs to harness passive solar (natural sunshine retention), he notes.
Catching sunshine can be as simple as using a greenhouse, rocks or bricks, or solar panels, Endacott says, “but whatever you do, the more energy efficient the better.
“Terrace the garden with rocks and it’s radiating heat all night long to the plants that were otherwise struggling at 38 F. Now, they are in a little microclimate of 45 F.”
The technical design parts of permaculture have the land divided up into zones in concentric circles, he explains.
“Zone 1 is where your home [or shelter] is; Zone 2 is where your gardens are; Zone 3 is probably your [livestock] animals; Zone 4 is where you have your woodlot, your orchards, or your hayfields; and Zone 5 is wilderness.”
Upon a request by the SCSC, Endacott also volunteered his time to apply permaculture to its proposed Community Place Garden.
Endacott says he designed the planned new community garden plot on an empty lot at Birch Avenue and First Street, which is currently awaiting available funds to cover insurance costs for the intended public use.
Endacott considered basic areas, such as vegetable harvest storage, fences, and meeting place shelters for garden users.
“We’ll have some benches, and they can watch the potatoes grow and go squish an aphid or a weed if they want.”
He adds environmental sectors of wind, sun, or even potentially noise, smells, or chemical pollution from a farm or an urban source, such as he saw in Portland, are also considered in a permaculture design.