Permaculture is a set of design principles and an agricultural system based on the use of the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. The purpose of permaculture is to optimize the effect and minimize the efforts by creating stable, productive systems that meet human needs and harmonize the environment with its inhabitants. To achieve its goal, permaculture takes into account organic processes of plants and animals, their food cycles, climatic factors and meteorological cycles.
The term permaculture is derived from “permanent agriculture” and was established by Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer. He was the first to practice permaculture as a systematic method in the 60s. Afterwards his ideas were adopted and developed on a scientific basis by Australian researchers Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 70s.
The productive human ecosystems are created and maintained: on one hand, they provide the resources we require to meet our own needs, but, on the other hand, they maintain the stability of natural ecosystems. In other words, we produce food, fiber, building materials, energy and other things that people require, while improving soil quality, biodiversity, air quality, saving water and allowing other natural ecosystems to grow without human intervention.
Permaculture can be considered a concept, a science, a philosophy, or even an art. But the majority of practitioners and theorists of permaculture agreed that this is primarily a design system.
One of the most interesting about permaculture is the fact that it has a very wide area of applications. It does not require special knowledge, and its principles can be applied to:
- apartments or courtyards;
- houses and gardens, in suburban areas;
- households and small farms;
- public places;
- farms and plantations;
- commercial and industrial premises;
- rural and nature conservation areas;
- abandoned lands.
A stable and functional ecosystem requires a solid foundation and the design of these ecosystems is based on three ethical principles of permaculture:
- Care of the Earth;
- Care of People;
- Return of surplus to Earth and people (also called “Fair Share”).
Permaculture as a form of sustainable agriculture
In permaculture, one can use the same land plots constantly, as in agroforestry. While growing various crops, traditional activities, such as plowing, are reduced to a minimum and are replaced by procedures such as “mulching”, when the soil is covered with straw or leaves in order to retain its moisture and prevent the growth of weeds, as well as “companion plants" that help each other. The farm is usually segmented into specific areas according to its needs in order to minimize the consumption of resources.
People who practice permaculture use the following methods on their plantations and farms:
- establishing of a balanced farming system using natural control methods of pests;
- use of quality seedlings;
- use of solar and wind energy;
- use of ecological soil fertilizers;
- use of the keyline design method;
- use of compost and green crops;
- use of agroforestry systems;
- use of integrated waste management.
Based on the ecological design system, permaculture has become increasingly used, in various regions of the world. Communities using "permaculture" continue to expand and develop original ideas based on various publications, curricula and online forums. Around the world, there are currently several hundred thousand permaculture specialists. This form of design can be used in small areas in rural or urban environment, as well as in plantations and farms covering tens of thousands of hectares.
Therefore, permaculture becomes a form of natural architecture, as well as an informal institution for alternative social ideals. It reduces society’s dependence on industrial production and distribution systems, which are often considered guilty of systematically destroying the ecosystems of our planet.
Permaculture in Moldova
Constantin Furtuna has been involved in permaculture for several years, he has a beautiful garden where he grows a wide variety of plants, herbs, fruit trees, berries. It also sells organic seeds or seedlings of wild varieties, plant roots and flowers, shrubs and fruit trees grown from organic seeds. The garden is located next to his house, in the southern part of the Republic of Moldova, near the town of Cahul, in the village of Rosu. The young man has been practicing permaculture for more than five years, and, in order to share his experience in this field, he offers video lessons in which he shares his own experience, while applying the principles of permaculture.
Ion Platon is another young man, inspired by Sepp Holzer’s book “Permaculture”. On an area of six ares which he received from his parents, the young man planted 46 natural plants: cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, arugula, white and brown spinach, parsley, dill, lemon, onion, garlic, corn, sunflower, around 6 kinds of beans, watermelon, melon, etc. He bought the seeds from his friend Constantin Furtuna. Ion Platon is also an adept of raw vegan lifestyle. He does not consume animal products and he eats all the fruits and vegetables in raw form.
The Grădina Moldovei brand was founded in 2015 and has some experience in the field of ecological gardening, using various methods (permaculture, crop rotation, allelopathy, etc.) with respect to the environment and the consumer.
Vasile Niculita is a young farmer who returned from abroad to carry out his dream project at home. He cultivates his land with devotion and passion, he loves to live in the village and cares about the environment. He also wanted his family to consume quality and healthy foods. He began to grow tomatoes and other vegetables on five square meters, and over time expanded to 500 ares, on which he now grows several varieties of fruits and vegetables. Vasile Niculita says: “In order to practice permaculture, you must love nature, love everything that surrounds you and love people. Therefore, in order to create an agricultural system based on permaculture, we must first take care of the soil. If we maintain it healthy, balanced and keep all the microorganisms and creatures living in it, we can get high-quality, tasty and healthy products”.