Permaculture the Mainsprings WayJune 13, 2018 10:36 am
Over these past couple of months, we have had a series of blogs to help highlight the details and importance of our programs or ‘pillars’, and how these set Mainsprings apart from other organizations. Today we are going to uncover just a few things that make our last pillar, the permaculture program, so unique…
First of all, what is permaculture? Permaculture stands for “permanent agriculture”. It’s a method of farming that seeks to replicate nature in a food producing farm, so people are better cared for (by having more and varied foods), developing a healthier environment (by reducing chemical usage and returning valuable nutrients and water to the soil), and still have enough excess produce to sell for a profit.
This is why we chose permaculture as a method of farming in order to set us apart from the rest:
- We are drought resistant! When laying out our permaculture farms, permaculture experts Mark Sheppard and Sophie and EJ Oppenheimer taught us how to read the slopes of the land and cut “keylines” which help to catch water and keep it on the land, and started to redirect the gray water from showers and sinks to different areas of our farm in order to reuse that water. We also planted lots of trees to help prevent evaporation and have much deeper roots that can draw from deeper water sources. When neighboring farmers use these techniques, it helps them weather those low-rain years, because even when the annual crops suffer due to lack of rain, the fruit trees give them something. And, on good years, this means a beautiful surplus that helps a family thrive.
2. Very limited chemicals needed! Because we integrate so many different types of plants together and use animals in our farm, very few chemicals are required to make our plants thrive. Manure from the pigs and chickens, as well as integrating diverse crops that work together, help to ensure our soil continues to increase its fertility. And, because of this integration of various types of fruits, vegetables and wood trees, it creates an environment where much fewer pests like to live- helping our produce survive to maturity without those pesky holes.
3. Variety, Variety, Variety! Since we try to have our farm replicate nature, we make sure to integrate lots and lots of types of produce together, ultimately giving us a wider variety of fruits and veggies to choose from. This not only helps with the fertility of the soil, but also enriches the diets of our children and staff.
4. Maximizing the power of the sun! When you think about large farms, many people think of a large field filled with a single type of produce. It’s a fairly common understanding that the sun drives the development of plants. So, instead of having a single layer, with one crop that can be vulnerable to disease, pests, or drought, we have layers of crops, from tall trees, to vines, to low growing annual vegetables that are all capturing the power of the sun and photosynthesizing as they normally would, but in a much smaller space. This helps to give a much greater output per acre than a traditional farm or garden would give.
While we could go on and on about the many unique strategies our permaculture programs implement, these are just a handful of the most important differences. Stay tuned for more blogs in the coming weeks about our other programs and even more ways Mainsprings stands a step ahead.
This post was written by Mainsprings