We are using an approach called permaculture to design our farm.
Sorry if permaculture is a new word to you. It was first used in the 1970s to describe ways of managing the land to produce food in a sustainable or permanent way (permanent agriculture). The big idea was to consciously design better ways of working with nature, rather than against it.
Put simply, agriculture tends to be about designing a system for growing one crop as best you can. This is often at the expense of other parts of the system, especially the soil. Then you have to work hard to keep things healthy by adding fertilizers and pesticides.
Permaculture considers the whole farm as the system. Everything on the farm – plants, animals and man-made structures are carefully designed to work together to bring out natures best. The result is something that is resilient, fruitful, abundant.
Over the last 30 years the principles used by permaculture designers have been developed into a framework that is useful in areas beyond producing food. The principles can help us organise our households and communities in a more sustainable/permanent way.
Find out more
There is an excellent summary or permaculture in a free download on David Holmgren’s website. You can also get his book Permaculture – Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability from October Books in Southampton.
Here is a quick exciting example of the permaculture approach. The first 5 minutes show what was done and then the original farm is revisited: Greening the Desert
Here is a video from a farm in Devon highlighting some of the ways permaculture thinking is influencing the way livestock is managed to build soil rather than deplete it.
Here is a short video from Australia about a similar sized small holding. Quite a few permaculture principles are discussed: Limestone Permaculture Farm.
Explore for yourself here: www.permaculture.co.uk.