Permaculture and Pumpkins

Permaculture and Pumpkins November 19, 2014

Recently I had occasion to meet a new friend.  I’d posted on my FB page that we would host a ‘demonstration-class-work-party’ on processing chickens.  From that post, she contacted me about helping her with a bunch of roosters that were just starting to crow and needed to be dispatched.  Last weekend, we went down to help her.

She lives on several acres, pretty well off the beaten path, on a piece of property that includes a fringe of woods surrounding a few acres of meadow.  There’s a slope down from the trees to the flat area, and the gardens are at the base of the hill.  She is a certified permaculture designer, so took those principles into account while designing her space.

When she moved there, there were no dwellings; it was all overgrown and full of trash.  It’d been used as a dumping site for a long time before she became acquainted with it.  She saw the land in its abused state and got the vision of how she could help it heal.

If you are familiar with the principles of permaculture, you know that it involves becoming intimately attuned to how the laws of nature play out in any particular environment.  First, one learns how the world works; how are the parts connected?  What supports what?

Then one studies the location to understand how the world’s-workings are manifested there.  I know that water flows from high to low (IT’S THE LAW!) and here’s a hill, so all other things being equal, rain (and the things it carries with it) will over time end up at the bottom of the hill.  And so forth.

One chooses where in the system to place tweaks that will benefit us humans.  If it wasn’t for us, the land would find its own balance.  But we want something from the land, so we ask nicely.  We ask by seeing where our intervention will do the most good and the least harm.  All that water is coming down the hill anyway, so we may as well plant things that will provide human-food (veggies!) and critter-food (soil nutrients!)

For a System to be sustainable, energy must be exchanged.  We traded knowledge for pumpkins!
For a System to be sustainable, energy must be exchanged. We traded knowledge for pumpkins!

And of course, the concepts of permaculture are applicable, not only to land-use, but to all sorts of systems.  What is the natural flow in your community?  In your family?  Your body?  Where is the power stored and how does it move?  What are the nutrients and are there enough?  Is the system sustainable at this level of output?

As Pagans, we recognize that we are not only dealing with physical reality.  All these same questions apply to our mental experience, our emotional patterns, our spiritual philosophy.  Maybe we consider the role of the Spirits of the place, the Fey, the Gods of the wood and the meadow, predator and prey.  What have they to teach us about the nature of our whole selves and how we fit into the One-Song that is the Uni-Verse?

P.S. We intervened in the chicken-pattern and slaughtered 6 roosters that day.  Thanks be for steady hands, thoughtful minds, bright willingness, curiosity, and sharp knives.  

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