Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Permaculture Vulture

Kate took a food politics course at Genesis Farm last fall and really loved it. We consider ourselves pretty savvy consumers and gardeners, but we learned about some new concepts like deep vs. shallow organic farming and permaculture, among other things.

Have you ever been suspicious of a corporate behemoth like Land o Lakes labeling their products “organic?” You may have good reason to be, since some companies use “shallow organic” methods that follow the letter of the law when it comes to organics, but not the spirit. “Deep organic” farmers try to mimic the patterns of nature to control pests, fight disease, and maximize harvests.

Permaculture takes the concept one step further. The word is a mash-up of “permanent agriculture” and “culture,” and the idea is that in order for humans to achieve a fully sustainable existence on this planet, we have to understand our place in nature. At first, this sounds hokey and woefully unscientific, both of which are an anathema to Mark’s finely tuned rational mind. But if you think about it, permaculture is really just the science of ecology applied specifically to humans and what we do.

Okay, now we’re veering dangerously into didactic territory. But there are folks out there doing some creative and controversial things with permaculture, and later this week we're going to let you in on how these practices can be subversive and downright revolutionary.

In case you're interested, we'll point you in the direction we're headed. Right now we’re really into Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, which is an excellent primer on permaculture, as well as Sally Jean Cunningham’s Great Garden Companions, which uses similar organic gardening solutions that dovetail beautifully with the permaculture philosophy. Be warned that this is the Coltivi’s Playhouse Not-So-Secret Word of the Year.


christina said...

I had read about those big "organic" lines but didn't know the shallow/ deep terminology. Horizon, Shop Rite brand are others.
I'm psyched to read those articles.

christina said...

Have you come across any lists of better organic brands?

Kate said...

Yes! Organic Valley treats their animals well and is pretty widely available.