Khidria, Inc. maintains a zawiya (religious/educational retreat) in the Town of Spring Green: The Pinewoods Permaculture Paradise, or 3P Zawiya.
The zawiya includes permaculture demonstration facilities and a small masjid and library. To learn about activities and get on the mailing list, email: khidria (at) gmail (dot) com.
What is Permaculture?
The key to the permaculture philosophy is to live with nature, not against it. In other words, go with the flow and submit to the Real.
Traditional agriculture involves waging war on the land to create mass destruction. Grains are very special plants that thrive in the aftermath of mass destruction: fires, floods, landslides, and so on. They put most of their energy into producing seeds, so they can spread fast in a freshly-devastated landscape. And their seeds are not only human-edible and easy to store, but downright addictive! By hoarding grain to pay their thugs, and turning people into grain addicts and slaves, early warlords became tyrants...and "civilization" was born. (Dr. Weston Price informs us that grain-based diets have devastated human health wherever and whenever they have appeared.)
Once humans started eating and cultivating grains, it wasn't long before they also learned that the way to grow grains is to devastate the landscape before planting the seeds. Axes, machetes, plows, fire, chainsaws - these are the weapons of mass destruction that destroy mature ecosystems (usually forests) so that grains may be planted in the rubble.
Today, this war on the earth has reached a critical point. Modern mechanized farming - monocropping with the aid of chemical fertilizers and pesticides - amounts to strip-mining the soil. Good soil and water are the two basic ingredients for growing food, and modern farming is using up the reservoirs of both.
Permaculture aims to produce food and other necessities sustainably by mimicking natural processes. In the long run this may actually be an easier and more efficient method...especially as fossil fuel reserves are depleted and human labor returns to center stage. No-till gardening, food forests, favoring perennials over annuals, plant "guilds" of symbiotic species, water-retention, and soil-building are some of the activities favored by permaculture practitioners.
Permaculture demonstration activities at 3P Zawiya include:
*Building using local, renewable resources
*Passive solar heating
*Heating and cooling with other renewable resources
*Maximization of natural lighting
*Advanced composting and soil-building using minimal inputs
*Advanced mulching using minimal inputs
*Carpet mulching and cardboard mulching
*The many uses of pine hay
*Food gardening with trees and perennials
*Gardening with raised beds
*Hay-bale and lasagna gardening
*Natural erosion control
*Recycling run-off water
*Solar-only 365-day greenhouse project
*On-site recycling, i.e. "Don't throw anything out, find a way to use it!"
There are also aesthetic and spiritual dimensions to permaculture. Let's face it, monocropping is ugly and boring. A field with nothing but corn or soybeans as far as the eye can see would be stunning if it were the only one in the world. But paving the whole earth with fields of corn and soybeans is overdoing it! Something about huge, flat, devastated/monocropped fields is anxiety-inducing. If you don't believe me, check out this scene from Hitchcock's North By Northwest!
A permaculture landscape of food forests, small but intensive gardens of irregular shape, rain gardens, ponds, intermediate zones, wildlife areas, and so on is much more attractive to the eye...in part because no two of them are alike.
As to the spiritual reasons for becoming a steward of the earth by practicing permaculture, many are ably explored in Ibrahim Abdul-Matin's book Green Deen.
Remember, Paradise is a "garden beneath which rivers flow." Since neither the earth, nor humanity, are "fallen," it is up to us to make this earth as close an approximation of Paradise as possible. Permaculture holds many of the keys to doing so.