September 2015 Permaculture farms thrive on symbiotic exchange between the elements of nature Sustainable living is the clarion call of today. Not only environmentally, but in terms of food, fuel, health and economics too, drastic system changes are needed to meet the needs of a planet with an increasing population. Permaculture farms thrive on symbiotic exchange between the elements of nature Permaculture stands out as a viable option. Introduced by Bill Mollison in the 1970s, the term means ‘Permanent Agriculture’. Says world renowned permaculturist, Geoff Lawton, “Permaculture is a design science; a system that supplies all the needs of humanity, the basic as well as the intricate, in a way that also benefits the environment.” In permaculture, all the material needed for the survival of a person, such as food, fuel and shelter is produced locally. In this process, a diverse range of vegetation and animals are utilised to support each other for abundance. Once the farm is fully functional in a few years, it naturally yields what is required for its own survival. Food for humans, animals and plants is taken care of by a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals. Water and sunlight complete the picture as naturally available resources. The trees choose their own plants to form guilds, and the farm forms its own system of self-sufficiency by attracting beneficial insects, that pollinate and disseminate to make the place thrive. This practice has proved to be highly sustainable, particularly in indigenous settlements and the method of growing food is so holistic that there is neither any loss of soil and water nor any harm to Mother Nature. Also, the food grown is highly nutritious for the body, and subsequently the mind. A number of organisations are today practising permaculture in various rural as well as semi-urban lands. Hyderabad-based Aranya is one such organisation working towards alternative agriculture. Auroville’s ‘Solitude Farm’ is also a shining example of permaculture practice.
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