One of my favourite lessons on the farm had to be Animal Systems with Tamara. I grew up around animals my parents have always had horses, sheep, and chickens and my best friend’s family owns one of the largest dairy farms on the Vancouver island. The use of animals for labour and production has been a part of human history since modern humans began to abandon the traditional nomadic way of life and settle, domesticating animals as an alternative to the energy intensive process of hunting them. Agriculture is possibly one of the most intensive and most revolutionary revelations in human history and it is a practice that continues to evolve. One of the most interesting concepts that Tamara spoke of was the idea of rotational grazing. I first came across the concept in my first year of university at Dalhousie University where it was being studied as a possible solution for stopping desertification from occurring. It was fascinating to see the practical application of this process and that it really did seem to work. It makes me ponder why this practice isn’t used more! It is clearly a far cheaper and less labour-intensive way of fertilizing than running a tractor to spread manure which most industrial farms do. I was also kissed on the face by a cow that day which was pretty neat; its not the first time this has happened to me, but its always nice to be loved. I don’t have any photos of that so if anyone does, send them my way!
Now that the field school has concluded and life is beginning to slip back into its natural rhythm (consisting mostly of work and sleep), I find myself thinking about permaculture far more than I did before. I’ll see or do something at work and think to myself “Hey, that’s permaculture!” These little moments of epiphany have got me thinking about what permaculture really is, but more so, what permaculture is to me. I think it’s fair to say that everyone approaches the concept of permaculture in a very different way it’s one of the things I like about it, a permaculture design can be as imaginative and unique as the individual whom has crafted it. I believe that I likely look at permaculture in a different way than most but in many ways, I think I view it in a very similar way as well. Permaculture to me is a way of thinking, it’s a way of reconciling (in the Canadian big C kind of way) my fiscal Conservative values, Libertarian Social Values and my environmental values which are way out in left field so too speak. I have always been surrounded by nature. I don’t like living in the city; it’s simply an unavoidable evil I must deal with if I want to go to school and as such I have always felt that we need to protect the things that make British Columbia and Canada some of the most beautiful places on earth. I have long subscribed to the idea that it is not possible to have economic prosperity without environmental sustainability and it is something that I think Kevin and the Klahoose First Nation not only subscribe to, but highlight rather effectively. The First Nation has been able to generate prosperity through industrial means yet in a sustainable way, through small selective forestry endeavours to hydro electric projects and non-invasive low intensity aquaculture. I also have a lot of respect for the fact that the First Nation has been able to create economic stability while simultaneously maintaining and promoting the history of their people. I also admire Kevin’s determination to work with the members of the First Nation through consultation and his desire to bring people back home. Permaculture is a lot of things to a lot of people But I would argue first and foremost that it is a way of thinking, that it is a way of challenging the status quo, and in most cases, makes our world a little more sustainable and a little less scary.