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Learning from Nature

Updated on January 10, 2012

Nature has a Design

Having been introduced to permaculture this past year, I see it as a small piece in fixing the way we live. The beauty of permaculture is that it does help us reconnect to nature and nature is designed to keep going. Nature can teach us a lot about survival. Nature never falls apart; it keeps the soil mulched at all times from the top down as well as from the bottom up. Plants provide the bottom up fertilizing pulling nutrients up from the deep. Once these nutrients are brought up they are also shared with other plants. Because of this, there is little need to add a lot of fertilizer. Mulching and composting keeps the soil alive.

Nature has a stacking function. One element in nature has many functions. An arbor of grapes over a deck can provide shed as well as fruit to eat and make wine with. Its leaves in the autumn can be used for mulch and cover an ugly looking rain barrel. Nature relieves redundancy. Nature squeezes all she can out of a berry bush. The berries are food eaten by birds who dispersed its seeds to germinate more bushes. Its leaves gather up solar energy and are channeled on the branches to draw down water into its roots. Our homes can be designed to ultilize solar power and collect rain water. Stacking creates a high level of production by integrating several components to work together whether they are plants or animals.

Nature has designed communities of plants who help each other. Ginger grows in the woods from Virginia to Minnesota. You can find in the East many oak/hickory forests with maples and dogwoods growing beneath their canopies. Pinon and juniper are found in abundance in the desert land of the West. Mingling the right flowers among vegetables help keep the insects down. Nature joins together plants and trees that will support each other. 

Stacking promotes cooperation and reduces competion. Everything in the garden performs more than one function. Every living thing has something to contribute whether it is energy or matter. Nature bends, curves, and climbs taking what energy it can from the sky and earth. It builds upon a network of connections that works as a single being. Nature really can teach us how to design our lives.

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