I like the fact that around 100 years ago—not such a long time back in history—we were all organic farmers and we had a good understanding of the life’s major skills. There was no system to aid us, while books on the subject matters were rare and scarce. So where did we get the knowledge on when to plant stuff, how to build a house or where to dig for water? Most of these questions were covered by a solid social fabric and based on common sense brought down from generations to generations.
As such the information was well stored in the culture of the people and shared in a particular common space on our planet with its very own unique eco-system. We truly have covered a long journey since then.
As we added expertise and continued to store information in institutions that were supported by public funding while selling the insights to the highest bidder (read corporations) experiments grew more in depth and our ingenuity became an isolated affair.
Soon corporations started to tell us how to live life, when and what to plant and to leave the water business to them. These unidentified entities took over and eroded the hard earned freedom of humans.
Even if we acknowledge all the greatly designed stuff and the things invented or technologies at our service, we have to admit that we have become more slaves of the systems than partners who equally participate or benefit. With all the great things surrounding us, we can stare the truth in the face, yet a simple truth that in the end life is about the simplicity surrounding us. As technologies amaze us, they also tend to take away our participation in the design process and life’s pleasures. We have become consumers and very good ones at that. We behave in the system that has been built as a trap around us. We have lost the skills and guts to design and take stuff into our own hands.
It can’t get any worse with the loss of our ability to grow our own food or to even understand what is growing how, when and where. Which are the plants that nourish us and how can we cultivate them?
This is not just a matter of organic farming, but an appeal for a deeper understanding of the design of a food production system. This is where permaculture comes in. Permaculture is a system that designs based on how nature designs living systems. These are the same simple, yet complex living systems that bond us with all the other elements in the eco-system.
When we apply permaculture on the growing of food, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg once we have designed our food system and have put all the plants and animals in place that we expect to be part of the farm. What we do not see is that the abundance that we create is not only about cash crops, but about food, sharing meals and celebrating diversity. With permaculture farming comes the idea of planting rare and exciting varieties and sharing the seeds with others to grow them as well. Permaculture farming is not about ripping off customers with high prices for their farm produce. It is about earning and sharing the profit or surplus with others.
Permaculture farming does not jive well with the current capitalist economic system. Unlike the very competitive nature of our current economy, permaculture is an open source system. What this means is that true permaculture practitioners will share what works well or what needs improvement so we can all focus on the one thing that makes sense: How to gain back what we have lost in our modern society. A permaculture design and integrated farm is so much more than an organic farm. It shows us that the system just doesn’t stop at the produce itself, but started long before and ends long after all crops have been harvested.
The more we grow locally the more we remove hunger from our issues. The more we grow, the greater our experiments will be, the more exciting our food will become and the better tasting our concoction become. By buying organic you support real people, you keep resources in a closer looped circle and you get to know some fantastic people along the way.
Indulge in all the different carbohydrates out there. Next time try to plant or eat some root crops, different rice varieties, heirloom corn, and less known grains among others. If you can’t grow try to connect to networks or farmers who are growing food naturally. If you have the time join them in planting or harvesting or just go there to tend the food gardens so the appreciation of wholesome food will be ingested.
Check out the following organisations or networks. There may be others:
Good food community @ E.Rodriguez – Timog st, Quezon city, every other sunday
Mara’s Organic Market @ Legaspi park, Makati, every Sunday morning
Featured image by Cholita Dantes
Photos by Cholita Dantes, Yohann Salazar and Smart Parenting