Locating elements in logical relation to the other elements with which they interact optimizes energy output while minimizing energy input. Placing ready-to-eat fruits and berries along paths makes snacking easy.
In a resilient system, every function must be reinforced by more than one element. By protecting young fruit trees (e.g. rambutan) with a number of other species (e.g. leucaena and moringa) that provide shade, we ensure that if one is damaged or dies, others will continue to shelter it. These groupings are called guilds.
In order to get the most out of a system, every element must fulfill as many functions as possible. The trees that provide shelter (e.g. leucaena, moringa) to our fruit trees (e.g. rambutan) carry out other functions as well, such as nitrogen fixation, biomass production, soil stabilization, and the production of secondary yields like food, firewood, and habitat for beneficiary animals.
Get a Yield
Obtaining a yield is important not only to maintain one’s livelihood within a system but also to thrive within a system. This is achieved by producing resources such as food, building materials, and medicine; and by transforming the abundance into value added products.
Creative Problem Solving
Permaculture views waste as an unused resource. In the famous words of Bill Mollison, “You don’t have a snail problem, you have a lack of duck problem.” We apply this concept by turning food waste from the kitchen and an ever-expanding termite population into fodder for our lovely heritage chickens.
One of the primary methodologies of permaculture design is observing and interacting with nature to create synergistic relationships. We accelerate natural successions that occur in the ecosystem by directing the flow of energy (water, nutrients, sunlight) to the species and elements whose functions we value most. One way we accomplish this is by using biomass from nitrogen fixing trees to create piles of mulch that mimic the moisture retaining and nutrient rich humus of a forest floor.
The interface between two elements, ecosystems, zones, etc., is always a space of heightened activity. By maximizing the surface area of edges, we are able to achieve optimal diverse yields. Hugelkultures (or piles of woody biomass) placed beside swales (on-contour water catchment ditches) and held in place by vetiver (erosion controlling grasses) create a variety of microclimates.
A key principal of permaculture design is to preserve and increase energy within the system. To maintain and regenerate soil fertility we catch nutrients by collecting food wastes, store nutrients by composting, use nutrients by amending our gardens with compost, and recycle nutrients by putting food waste back into the soil through compost. We upcycle nutrients by introducing worms to the composting process, which further increases nutrient density in the soil.
Project Bona Fide uses the diversity of agro-forestry and permaculture design to support the rural economy and environment on Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua. The project’s goals are to demonstrate and offer diversified horticultural technologies to expand cropping options that have both higher market values and promulgate food security. Perennial food systems that promote food security and iversified economy may also resist the vagaries of global weirding and contribute to re-forestation of abused landscapes. With more permanent and economical farming systems farmers will be less inclined to sell their land to incoming expansive tourism and cash cropping, thus keeping the culture and environment intact.
Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human ecologies. The word itself is a contraction not only of permanent agriculture but also of permanent culture, as cultures cannot survive long without a regenerative agricultural base and land use ethic. The aims of Permaculture are to create systems that are ecologically-sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and therefore are sustainable or even regenrative in the long term. Project Bona Fide practices many different types of agro-forestry. Plantings of fruit, nut, and multi-use trees on contour are spaced so that “alleyways” are left for the inclusion of annual crops like cereal grains and annual legumes. Alley farming allows for multiple yields of tree and annual crops throughout the year. The use of vertical space is optimized when this type of poly-culture is employed.