Introduction to Permaculture
Garden Therapy Yorkton/Prairie Permaculture
by Stacey Tress
Typing my article here at my computer, behind closed blinds with towels overtop to aid in blocking the sun/heat, my heart knows we need a better solution. Although cool on this main floor with just the ceiling fans circulating the air, I know as the day goes on, things will continue to heat up in here. COVID restrictions have been recently lifted in Saskatchewan and we are now “free” to get out there and enjoy life/family/friends again. But here we are in our second “heat wave” in the Prairies (July), and when you add in the poor air quality from the numerous forest fires in northern Saskatchewan, that feeling of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” comes to mind.
What could be a better solution?
“Work with nature, rather than against natural elements, forces, pressures, processes, agencies, and evolutions, to assist rather than impede natural developments.”
—Bill Mollison (one of his permaculture principles)
I know that any system is more likely to succeed if it serves more than one function. Blinds on a window do look pretty, offer privacy and in the summer, block out the light/heat, which are all just “human needs,” but let’s put on our permaculture goggles, and think outside the box.
Being inspired by Bill Mollison’s quote above, let’s creatively design this “window with a blind” into something that works with nature. One option could be to build an overhang (or a pergola-type patio cover) over the exterior window. Could we source materials for re-use? What if this overhang was designed to not only block out the summer sun, but allow in the winter sun? Could it support a solar power system? What if it could also capture the rain water, and that was used to water the plants below? What if that overhang also had a trellis that ran up alongside it, so that say, perennial vines and/or food crops could thrive? And please invite the neighbours to build community! Now you’ve got functional seasonal shading/cooling that not only looks good, but increases diversity, produces food, harvests water, improves air quality, and so on (kind of like a tree). And yes, you can still keep the blinds, but maybe now you can have them open to appreciate the view. :)
After my intensive trainings in permaculture, which started in 2012, I was very active as a consultant, designer, and educator. Soon after our second child was born, something called me to once again get my own house and garden in order, and so with that we moved out to Rhein, SK, in 2017. As you can see from my first line of this article, I haven’t got my overhang up, but so many other developments have been happening in these few short years, including thoroughly enjoying watching our girls grow up here, homeschooling, and continuing my education. I’ve spent that last few years being almost hermit-like, which I know has prepared me for new adventures.
So….what is Permaculture?
Permaculture is the conscious design and co-creative evolution of agriculturally productive ecosystems and cooperative and economically just social systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of “natural” ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. The practice of permaculture design is greatly enhanced by the practice and development of liberating mental, emotional, and spiritual ways of being. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth. Permaculture has a foundation based on ethics and principles.
Ethics of Permaculture
Care for the living soil. The state of the soil is often the best measure for the health and well-being of society. Rebuild Natural capital. By reducing our consumption of “stuff,” we reduce our impact on the environment, which is the best way to care for all living things.
People care starts with ourselves, but expands to include our families, neighbours, local and wider communities. If peoples’ needs are met in compassionate and simple ways, the environment surrounding them will prosper. By recognizing that the wisdom lies within the group, we can work with others to bring about the best outcomes for all involved.
Taking of what we need and sharing what we don’t, while recognizing that there are limits to how much we can give and how much we can take. By finding the right balance in our own lives, we provide positive examples for others, so that they can find their own balance.
The scope of permaculture can range from small systems on balconies, in households or urban yards, to acreages, farms, eco-villages, communities, municipalities, and beyond.
Permaculture is a design system for a sustainable habitat. It is guided by ethics and principles. It’s about taking responsibility for you and your children. It’s about getting your house and garden in order so that they feed and shelter you. It’s about increasing diversity and beauty to your surroundings. It’s about building community and getting to know your neighbours. It’s about growing food and building soil. It’s about doing random acts of kindness. It’s about reconnecting with nature. It’s about reconnecting with yourself.
Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, Bill Mollison
Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability, David Holmgren
The Permaculture Handbook, Peter Bane
Stacey Tress has an educational background in Horticulture, Holistic Nutritional Therapy (HNT), and Permaculture Design. She lives in Rhein, SK, with her husband and two daughters. Owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton, she sells culture kits like sourdough, milk kefir, and kombucha. She teaches a variety of workshops including fermentation, offers Permaculture Design, and nutritional consulting across the Prairies. To learn more, call 306-641-4239, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
Facebook “Garden Therapy Yorkton” or visit www.gardentherapybliss.ca. Also see the display ad on page 15 of the 27.3 September/October issue of the WHOLifE Journal.