Sunday, April 6, 2008

Permaculture: An introduction by Bill Mollison

Bill Mollison and David Holmgren founded the permaculture movement. In the following years, Bill Mollison travelled extensively and brought the ideas of permaculture to many countries around the world. In the following series of video clips, Bill Mollison explains what has been happening to our beautiful planet and what we can do to return degraded areas back to a Garden of Eden. (Note: If you have a fast Internet connection, you might also be able to watch the same video clips as one continuous google video Unfortunately, my own Internet connection is not up to that, so I couldn't check whether the google video works.)

In the following video clip, Mollison shows how even somebody living in an apartment can turn their balcony into a permaculture haven and produce around 25 per cent of all food required for two people with the help of a small aquaculture system. This sounds like something I should try next year!

Mollison also looks at the history of agriculture and the mechanisation of our food production. Since the end of World War II, 70 per cent of the world's soils have been destroyed. 40 per cent of our water has been contaminated. In our quest to feed the masses, agriculture has become a weapon against nature.

In the next segment, Morrison describes the reaction he got from the establishment when he began teaching his permaculture ideas. In his words, "Modern agriculture is not a system for producing food but for producing money... No-one pays for the damage at the end of the chain."

In this segment, Mollison also gives some practical ideas, such as how to grow potatoes in a no-dig straw patch and how to use mulch for successful gardening. He shows how careful planning results in a highly productive food forest, explains his system of "swales" to harvest water and shows the role of poultry in a garden forest.

The next video clip expands on the theme of poultry in the garden, that is how the garden uses poultry for clean-up and fertilising, and how poultry use the garden for food. Mollison also speaks about transforming cities into a food production area. Food sold in our big cities would be 95 per cent cheaper in energy cost if it was grown in the cities themselves. Our modern system also makes cities highly dependent. A three-day transport strike would leave the supermarkets empty.

The segment ends with some thoughts on genetically modified organisms.

In part 5, Mollison explains the connection between forests and rainfall, and the many roles forests play in the nutrient cycle. In some parts of the world, the system has been destroyed. Haiti, for example, has not only lost its trees but also its topsoil.

Mollison's message is reaching many parts of the world, as shown in a permaculture project in India. But it is not only the developing world, the so-called "developed" world needs sustainable development, too, and permaculture designers have begun working with property developers to achieve better planning for our suburbs and cities.

The documentary finishes with a visit to a Garden of Eden - planted seven years ago, left to its own devices a few years later, the garden produces without further human input.

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