The more I garden, the more I want to garden. The more I research permaculture, the more I recognize a huge gap in my knowledge about sustainable practises. The courses I might undertake all appear to be prohibitively expensive. For now I must learn what I can find online.
The choice to plant a vegetable garden this spring depended on our decision to remain in this rented house until at least next spring. We like living here a lot, although we would prefer to set down more permanent roots and buy a house. That will have to wait until our finances are more stable. However, one cannot help dreaming.
My dream has begun to include things like raising our own chickens and planning a more authentic permaculture landscape. Such artificial habitats include features such as fruit trees and shrubs, heirloom and native plants to increase biodiversity, and of course some kind of livestock. Unfortunately it is impractical to implement most of these changes if we expect to move within a year or two.
This calls for patience. Meanwhile, I have a lot to learn. I have been gardening more or less organically since childhood, but an authically sustainable approach requires much more than building a compost heap. To my dismay, much common knowledge about permaculture principles seems to have been commodified into training courses I can ill afford. If I cannot afford them, neither can a host of low-income urban dwellers. These are the ones who need the knowledge most.
Our civilization cannot become sustainable as long as it ignores poverty. These expensive permaculture courses reaffirm my cynical notion that environmentalism is classist. Too often, wealthy consumers seek to assuage their guilt by waving a green banner. Obviously, I am over-simplying the issue and cannot defend my own place in the class structure. Permaculture receives increasing interest from young people with limited incomes. They may be the most committed practitioners.
While the world gets on with solving its problems, I have a lot to learn. On the theme of permaculture and sustainability, here are a few websites and blogs I have been appreciating:
- Permaculture Institute: this site turns up many resources about principles of permaculture, and an informative blog, Lots of Life in One Place, with topics like managing a sustainable woodlot and herbs for dental health.
- The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia: includes abundant resources such as multiple daily blog posts by various writers, online forums and a catalogue of permaculture projects around the world.
- Out Here in the Fields: Martina is an aspiring organic farmer I met locally before discovering her blog. She posts infrequent but thoughtful, informative essays such as On ethical farms and animal advocacy and Food labels: deciphering the mysterious code. I look forward to learning more from Tino.
- PopcornHomestead: Joan Lambert Bailey, an American expat living in Tokyo, writes about urban farming and many related topics of interest especially to city dwellers, such as farmers’ markets. I met Joan through the 2012 WordCount Blogathon and published a guest post from her here at Speed River Journal: Tokyo Waterways: the City’s Other Wild Side.
- Shape of Things to Come: Writing from Hobart, Tasmania, my friend Toni blogs the path to a sustainable future.
- Outlaw Garden: City gardeners must often operate under ridiculous restrictions, such as: no vegetables on the street side. Cristina Santiestevan, another Blogathon participant, breaks the rules and tells the story.
- Compost Happens: Daisy, yet another Blogathoner, is a gardener, mom and ecological writer. Her blog is as diverse and fertile as a compost pile.