Developing a sustainable homestead takes planning, but it's worth it in the end. The overall goal provides permanent agriculture combined with the ability to care for the Earth and its inhabitants by mimicking natural systems. Permaculture homestead design integrates observed systems in nature that create symbiotic relationships with plants, animals, humans, and even structures. It is a beneficial, circular concept that is only enhanced by time.
Sustainability is a buzzword in today's world. We attempt the concept through recycling, repurposing, composting, and other types of activities. In sustainable homestead farming, the idea becomes holistic, including many other variables as they work towards a main goal. The end result is a farm that is maintained with minimal effort and materials, and returns back surplus energy.
Combining the Homestead and Sustainability
A peek into our ancestral past sees our forbearers utilizing what was at hand to feed, clothe, and house themselves. Placing an order online was unimaginable, so people created their own items and carefully preserved what they owned. Nothing was wasted, and anything from the earth was returned to the earth. This cyclical brand of living yielded less waste and resulted in a healthier environment.
Today's homestead takes note of these past lessons, but expands them to include even more sustainable practices. Permaculture farming harnesses the systems used by nature as a successful model for gardening, animal husbandry, land management, and personal production.
A Beginning Permaculture Homestead Design
Whether you are developing land or it already has buildings and outdoor spaces outlined, producing a permaculture homestead starts with a plan.
Observe the land and its assets and detriments. Each can be used to enhance the other. Consider how to use energy most effectively and avoid waste. Then develop methods of implementing natural systems in satisfying goals.
Envision your goals and include them in future expansion and plans. Sustainable homesteading isn't an overnight achievement, and will not only take planning and effort, but several years for all the system components to mesh together.
Elements to Consider in Permaculture Homesteading
Every one of life's needs have to be addressed and included. Water, air, food, housing, and more are all part of a sustainable homestead system. As a start, consider these goals:
- Diverting excess water to areas where there is little
- Planting perennial food plants
- Encouraging wildlife
- Providing reliable but renewable energy
- Returning organic materials back to the soil
Solutions to water diversion come in the form of trenching, swales, and other projects. Growing fruit trees, berry vines, and other plants will provide food annually. Planting and tending to native plants that house and feed wild life and encourage their participation in things like pollination and pest control. Installing solar panels or wind turbines to harness natural and renewable energy. Composting, using green manure, and cover crops return nutrients to the soil.
As the plan comes together and each part is implemented, the natural order is enhanced and gives back to the caretakers.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.