Thursday, July 13, 2006

Getting Started. I’ve been meaning to write something on this topic for a while and prompted by Liam’s comment on the 28th June blog, here goes. The perfect examples one finds in books, courses and especially TV programmes can be enough to put anyone off. Bob Flowerdew reckons that “one of the major problems that has beset gardening has been the plethora of artificial and unrealistic standards set by garden designers and the grow-it-for-show exhibitors.” He goes on to say “Television programmes are the most misleading as it so easy for them to cheat. Do not believe all that you see…” The No-Work Garden pp8,14.

There are many ways to get started and your chosen method must suit your own character; I have to say that I’m unfortunately very impatient and am keen to get away from the planning process (so important in permaculture) and into the action! So, it was music to my ears to read (a long time ago, so I can’t remember which book) the industrialist and company trouble-shooter, John Harvey Jones explain one of his theories, which goes something like this: two teams are set the same task. Team A decides to remain seated (perhaps in a semi-circle of beanbags, complete with a flip-chart) until they have thrashed-out and agreed on the “right” way to go. Team B, however, after a much more cursory discussion, get going. JH-J argues that, by virtue of the fact that they are doing something, and therefore by experiential learning, Team B will discover that they are moving in the wrong direction will turn around and head in the right direction and overtake Team A, who are still talking.

This works for me and explains our bumbling progress, full of mistakes and frustrations but at least we’re doing it. The photo above is of me trying to sort out the electric goose fencing and, yes, I did give myself a shock when trying to work out how the fence tester worked! For more inspiration, read Michael Guerra’s article in Permaculture Magazine reflecting on how he was both exhausted and confused by his Permaculture Design Course. Also inspired, however, he has gone on to become perhaps Britain’s best-known small-space urban permaculturist and has published The Edible Container Garden. So, don’t be put off by the experts and start permaculturing!


vanillablush said...

Thanks Stuart.You speak a lot of sense!
First time I heard the term 'permaculture' was in the early 90s at a direct-action environmental group meeting.People were describing this amazing no-work sustainable gardening system and pretty evangelical and frankly, a bit scary in their manner.Maybe that fairly extreme intro to PC put me off, as these were the same people who I never felt took me very seriously as a protestor as I could only do odd actions for a night at at a time and not live in the woods for months.I was told once that 'I guess if you're a student nurse-thats ok then' But there was a lot of posturing of the ego-warrior type at Newbury, Twyford etc.The best summary of this I read once in the Earth First ! journal where somebody commented 'Its our politics and not our haircuts that unite us'
I learnt after a year or two that I was suspected of being a police plant due to the shortness of my hair!
Bit of a digression there, but you are completely right-its bettter to be doing something rather than waiting for the day when you will be able commit the time and thought to PC in an idealised text-book way

Anonymous said...

There can be a huge difference between theory and practice. That is why I like reading this blog, which provides first-hand real life information. I really miss that in the available permaculture resources. Some ideas seem weird speculations for me, far away from reality (I have tried many of them, before saying this, and of course many of them fork fine, but some of them just does not work, or would simply take too much time)
Never follow dogmas, adapt them to the circumstances