I helped a friend yesterday sift through a compost pile to make two wheelbarrows of fresh compost to put on the garden where I volunteer. As a little compensation for this work, I was allowed to bring home a bucket of this precious black gold. In order to rebuild the depleted soil of my own yard I need to spread this mess of decomposed kitchen and plant waste to reintroduce life to the soil— all the way from one-celled organisms to insect life.
It is a lot of hard work to make compost— involving shovels and pitchforks and aching muscles and mud encrusted shoes. It is standing almost to your ankles in muck.
As we worked, I remarked to my colleague, “You’ve got to shovel a lot of *%*% before you can pick any flowers”. She agreed.
Isn’t that a metaphor applicable to all areas of our lives.
If you’ve been around my blog long enough, you will have noticed that I engage in a community gardening project. The garden I volunteer in provides produce to a local food pantry for those in need. But the garden also serves as a teaching tool for sustainable, organic gardening practices
For the last six months that I have been volunteering i’ve been puttering around, basically following the directions of the garden manager, but not really knowing the whats and the whys of my actions. A few days ago, the garden volunteers attended a training conducted by an expert in Permaculture. I had heard the word tossed about before but really had no idea what it meant. By the end of the presentation I walked away from the garden energized and eager to know more, in a new direction to take my creative work with the earth.
Here are the notes I wrote in my garden journal after the session:
“… Permaculture is an integrated system of ecological and environmental design—a contraction of the words ‘permanent’ + ‘culture’— originated by Australian researchers Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. It is a system of principles and tools to redesign communities to live harmoniously with nature–working with nature, not against it —to improve the health of the land and the people who tend it. Permaculture is about rebuilding much-needed relationships with people, the land and the systems that support them. It works to build resilient communities that adapt to changing climate situations….. The three ethics of Permaculture are earth care, people care, and fair share. When people work in harmony with nature, there will be a surplus which can be shared with the whole community. … Permaculture design principles arise from [a] way of perceiving the world that is often described as systems-thinking and design-thinking… These principles include
observe and interact,
capture and store energy,
get a yield,
apply self regulation and accept feedback,
use and value renewable resources and services,
produce no waste
design from patterns to details,
integrate rather than segregate,
use small and slow solutions,
use and value diversity,
use edges and value the marginal,
creatively use and respond to change…”
We will have another training in a few weeks and I look forward to growing my knowledge in this area. In this world today where so many deny climate change and the unfair distribution of food and resources, tending a garden of this sort is an act of defiance. I am so ready to dig my heels .