Is it all about the timing when planting seeds? continued…

A few people lately have asked me ‘why permaculture?’ or ‘what brought me to permaculture’ and their questions as well as my own reflections have prompted me to think of just when the seeds were planted to bring me to this point of study..

As far as I can remember or I am aware, the first time I heard the word permaculture was probably about three years ago, when a close friend of mine decided to go and volunteer at a project and do a Permaculture Design Course. The seeds were planted. Or were they already sown prior to that?

She described to me what the course was about and the kind of things she would be learning, it sounded fascinating, exciting and interesting to me (the content) but I think the word ‘permaculture’ was secondary to all this information, I just loved the idea of a course where you could study nature and learn about being more self-sufficient. However, I think the word ‘permaculture’ lodged itself in my brain and then attracted more and more people into my life who mentioned it. At this stage I never asked too many questions as to what the word meant, people always talked to me as if I would know what it meant. And, I suspect, so as not to show my ignorance I never came right out and asked “what is permaculture exactly?” That came later, a couple of years later.

When my friend went off to do her course/volunteering I was learning in other ways; about being self-sufficient, being creative with my gifts/skills, trying to work out another kind of economy that didn’t just rely on money, the art of survival, living with little or no money and I would say, desperately seeking some kind of ‘salvation’ and different way of life. I was learning through circumstance and my life situation, not because I had consciously chosen to learn this lesson (although I am eternally grateful that I did learn, and I don’t believe anything comes into our lives without us ‘inviting’ it in, but that is another story…)

Visual depiction describing permaculture by James Chapman, who is now my tutor on the Diploma

Maybe for all of us the ‘seeds’ of permaculture were sown a while back, maybe even before we were born (we probably came into being as part of some sort of ‘design’). I can certainly think of many situations in my life where I ‘designed’ something; a career move, a new relationship, an old relationship, a friendship, a house move, moving to another country, learning a new language, having a burning ambition, dreaming of a different future. Some of these designs I have ‘implemented’, some have stayed in my head the seeds still lying low waiting for the frost to pass, some have gone terribly wrong (or seem to have), some have turned out wonderfully and eventually morphed into another follow up design, some have taken a completely different direction from what I had originally imagined and yet worked even better than I could have hoped, some have bolted before even taking root, others have flowered majestically only to wither later when something else came into bloom and some are a work in progress…

I like to think that we are always planting seeds, nurturing the seedlings, cultivating dreams, watching things grow to be something other than we expected or dreamed of, enjoying the yield or sometimes finding it is not quite to our taste and then continuing our ‘designs’  in our heads and our hearts. If I look at it this way I find it easier to continue with the permaculture studies and just see it as an extension of my life, already lived, and what has still to come to fruition.

The timing of course is always ‘right’ and nature will usually find a way to help things grow if that is what is intended, or we may find that the seeds will sprout, much later, and grow into something much more sustainable. And if not, then we can always learn from our mistakes, and something else will grow in it’s place…

Which brings me back to the Design thinking Guidelines…and hopefully planting more seeds…

design thinking guidelines – Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability ~ David Holmgren

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