Permaculture

At Melkys school the general education program is supplemented with activities that are connected to members of the community. One of them is the theory of permaculture and it's practical application. Permaculture emerged during the latter part of the 20th century as an alternative to profligate and destructive industrial agriculture. The union of two English words gave birth to the concept of “permaculture” – permanent and agriculture – in other words a regenerative, long-term land use. Interestingly, these ideas arose independently and at the same time in New Zealand, Japan and Austria. When they had realised the way modern civilised world is destroying ecosystems and it's biodiversity, drains rivers dry and poisons waterways and soils, B. Mollison, M. Fukuoka, S. Holzer began to offer local solutions to solve global problems, based on the principles of ethics, health, creativity and intercompatibility.

Permacultural farming methods restore soil fertility, fulfill farmstead needs and establish enduring ecosystems in aid of plants and animals. The more elements there are in a system the healthier and more resilient it becomes. Permaculture is a relationship of harmony between landscape and people who produce food and energy for themselves and to satisfy other material and non-material needs. Over the years this phenomenon has begun to include an ever wider spectrum of human activities such as public administration, unorthodox economy and finance, body and soul harmonization, culture, schooling and higher education, regenerative agriculture and ecosystems' restoration, building techniques, easily accessible tools and technologies. Permaculture became an academic discipline, bringing together economy, ecology, resources and energy management, climate development observations, hydrology, seed breeding, animal husbandry, sewage treatment etc.

At the basis of permaculturals concept of social processes management many goals are achieved: restoration of depleted soils on a mass scale is performed, forest agriculture and food forests are developed; local bioenergy and utilization of local materials is encouraged as well as local organic waste disposal; intensive gardening, seed banks and exchange are promoted together with growing new cultivar varieties that are adapted to local conditions. In permaculture, as a school of thought, the world is not divided into parts but is perceived as a single living organism, deepening the understanding of those vitally important instances of mutual interconnectedness.

Permaculture offers another way of looking at housebuilding and construction in general: the place for a building is determined by taking into account its intended use, landscape, topographical “Keyline” and other parameters. Uncomplicated technologies and easily obtained tools are utilised as well as raw materials located near the building sight – wood, stone, clay. The buildings are combined into groups: homesite-greenhouse-vihicle shed-outbuildings. Here food is grown, grey water is recycled, solar architecture principles are applied, rain water is gathered and utilised, a micro climate is created inside a house using heating and cooling properties of the ground itself and compost toilets are built. The aim is to transform waste products into useful resources again. The bulk of the building work on the site is performed by its owners themselves thus taking responsibility for reliable functioning of all those systems. The aspiration is to make such a homestead autonomous and stable even in the face of natural disasters. The ultimate goal is: a ecological stability – energy efficiency - economy.

Permaculture as a doctrine and way of life is most suitable for house holds. It's knowledge base is very practical for those who do not yet have much experience of running their own kitchen garden but who would like to apply it to their lives. It will help every family to acquire deep rooted understanding of the worlds ecosystems and to keep an enriching, versatile, beautiful, creative household and kitchen garden. Permaculturalists perceive a mode of being that does not destroy planet Earth's ecosystem through small homesteads where everything is harmoniously intertwined into a closed cycle waste-less ecosystem.

We are offering these ideas to the next generation. At Melkys school we provide children with an opportunity to observe and give a try to this pattern of life by taking part together with adults in school constructions and development, in designing and forming the landscape around it, growing a food forest and a kitchen garden nearby. We are applying some basic principles of permaculture and including them in our school's educational program.