I first encountered permaculture ideas while studying Building Biology. A video recommended in the coursework showed a man in England growing a food forest, explaining that the world gets most of its calories from annual plants, while we could be getting a better variety of nutrients getting food from trees and other perennial plants, saving ourselves the work of planting huge fields of crops every year and leaving a less disastrous footprint on the land. The efficiency of this idea immediately resonated with me, and since, I have been exploring permaculture ideas, stories and concepts with great interest.
I just started taking an online course on permaculture in which the ethics of permaculture were stated as Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Seeing this triumvirate, I began to think how building biology measured up, and it seems there is a substantial overlap.
Earth Care – as building biologists we focus on using materials with low embodied energy and renewable resources.
People Care – we hold up built environments to a rigorous standard meant to protect the health of those who live or work in these environments.
Fair Share – many building biologists in the IBE network give back by teaching new generations of students, mentoring and offering feedback to fellow practitioners. And many of us, including myself, offer sliding scale rates so that we can help everyone who needs the help.
I like the overlap of these two domains of knowledge and would like to see more interactions between the two worlds to create even more dynamic, nurturing environments. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my own personal mix of the two. What healthy home would be worthy of the name without a healthy, sustainable garden?