Small is always beautiful. We fully understand this statement yet we use and abuse it all the time. What does it really mean, how will we know when something is small? What is the concept of beauty going to be since it will be subjective?
One time while working with a community, I came across a group of women trying to fulfill their voluntary labor towards their organization. They had been doing this for many months already, but never focused, nor with a plan. Most members would vigorously plant trees, which were given for free by the government all over their property without a plan or without proper knowledge as to suitability.
I made a short chat with the women and we agreed to work on the kitchen garden, which was rather small and manageable and very necessary since the area was quiet isolated. We discussed and shared stories while standing on the site. My story would lead them to look at what was available, where the materials to be used could be found, and how the cute lines in the landscape could create pleasant surprises. We went on for about 15 minutes, and then I left them to start the work.
They silently went about with their business, and when the day was over they had crafted a beautiful garden of about 4 m2 being part of a 200,000 m2 area. It was not just done beautifully, for the first in all their voluntary time given to the organization, I could also see that they had really had fun. They were proud of that little curved patch of emerging garden, and they had paid attention to detail as well. Everything fitted well together; a small path crafted with stones and veggies lining the path with larger plants towards the edges. It was a cuddly little patch of land, yet manageable, and surely ready to become very productive.
When these women will take on the other parts of the 200,000 m2 they will turn it into a quilt of 50,000 by 4 m2 patches of diversity (each crafted and nurtured with love). That’s large-scale permaculture (small patches of well-crafted ecosystems that will become amazingly productive).
Featured image and photos by Bert Peeters