Permaculture is an agricultural design system that fulfils the needs of humans whilst increasing ecological health.

I am a computer programmer and my partner is a graphic designer. We have decided that we would like to develop a small permaculture homestead and grow our own food.

A number of factors have lead to our interest in permaculture.

The key concept that we like about permaculture is that instead of subtracting, as modern agriculture does, it continually adds and increases diversity. An example is that instead of poisoning pests, the idea is to add habitats that support species that prey on these pests. Instead of covering an orchard in plastic to keep the birds out, the birds are offered something they would rather eat. For example, birds prefer to eat rowan berries to cherries. If we grow enough rowan berries, the birds will leave the cherries for us. The birds also keep certain insect populations under control.

Another huge benefit to permaculture is that it can provide a tangible improvement to the environment. By improving the quality of top soil carbon is taken out of the air and stored in the earth. Basically, plants use nitrogen (from the air or urine) to produce chlorophyll, a compound that plants use to turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar. This sugar is what fuels plant growth. When an animal eats the plant and turns it into manure, it soon becomes soil. It gets much more complex than this but basically this is how carbon dioxide can be stored back into the earth.

We are both very conscious of what it happening to our environment but we are not really the activist types. Having felt somewhat powerless, we appreciate being able to play our part in improving our environment by improving our own little piece of the earth. As people come to visit us, we can showcase the benefits of this respect for nature. Instead of just preaching what others should be doing, we can set an example and share the tangible benefits of what we are doing with our friends. Since food is such an essential part of our lives, it is a great means by which to communicate the advantages of animal welfare, environmental protection and even positive race relations.

By using permaculture principles in the stewardship of our land, we hope to eventually produce superior food, living in a beautiful location, learning practical skills and sharing it all with the people around us.