The Permaculture Journey

It is filled with surprises both delightful and not so delightful. After receiving my certification in permaculture design, these past few years I have primarily been focused on spreading the word because it is only known by few in my area and that knowledge is very limited. I can not share my design skills if nobody knows what it is that I have to offer. And so, I started volunteering where I could apply these skills.

First, I started by offering my services to our cities community garden committee. I was mostly welcomed, but the idea of permaculture was initially laughed at and rejected. Others before me were given permission to try these principles in a public green space and did not follow through with the initial work needed to develop it into a sustainable system. Hence, the reaction of rejection.

They left a wild uncontrolled area, as I was told, and ignored it after only a few plant installations with minimal follow up care. This left an impression that was not reflective of the very basic principles of permaculture. I was already one step behind and they barely knew me besides this fact. So, I looked like a fool selling snake oil. I had much explaining to do just to defend the idea of permaculture itself.

I explained that if applied improperly it was no more useful than trying to hammer a nail into wood with a rake. Any tool misused ends in unintended results, most times I find. Making this connection and more deeply explaining permaculture helped to heal their wounds from the prior experiences with others that had gone before using the name of permaculture.

Going through this I was uncomfortable and it put me in a defensive position with that group, immediately. This was a difficult place to start from especially considering I was also new to the group and mostly unknown to them. I was grateful to have studied permaculture deep enough and to have had the opportunity to be able to explain it to others in a manner in which they could understand. A new step in my journey and exactly the one I needed to take.

Many people are representing this word permaculture out there in our world. Many before us and many to come. I just ask that we all share permaculture with care as is listed in it's core ethics. Tread carefully with others and share this information with the concern and care you would give to a seed you planted. Be respectful to the information for the sake of the idea itself. It is in all of our best interests.

Also, as permaculture purveyors we are instructed to present this information with care in the prime directive listed out by Bill Mollison in his book Permaculture: A Designers' Manual (1988, p1):

"The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. Make it now."

We must take responsibility for our existence as permaculture practitioners' and purveyors. To work within our human social structures to respectfully share this idea where it is most needed. We need to take responsibility in the ways we purvey and practice permaculture itself in the language and living models we choose to use. Treat the idea of permaculture carefully. 

I don't know of anyone screaming permaculture from the rooftops, even though many might want to do so. There is a reason for that. It is not in the foundations of permaculture even though it might be in our hearts. We are to observe before interacting. This method of yelling permaculture at everyone would break this very principle. I know this is an extreme example, but it sets a tone.

Be careful when sharing permaculture by looking for opportune moments in which that information would benefit those involved and open discussion. Be careful when you choose to share the idea of permaculture, who you share it with, and how you present the idea of permaculture in the words you choose. Because, you are representing a young idea which must be handled with care.

You are part of a global community as a certified permaculture designer and your journey will also reflect upon the entire culture. There is much responsibility in that. Do not take it lightly and tread carefully along your journey. If we all do so, we will help to build a sustainable permaculture community for the generations to come. And, we will be respecting the work that has been done by those before us.


Effie Trucheon is part of the organizing team for the Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence. She lives in West Allis, Wisconsin where she is active in her community. Effie is the owner of Permaculture Designs by Effie and offers design and consultation services.

Effie Trucheon is part of the organizing team for the Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence. She lives in West Allis, Wisconsin where she is active in her community. Effie is the owner of Permaculture Designs by Effie and offers design and consultation services.



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