Sunday, 14 April 2024

Liberty & Nation Debate (1) – Can Permaculture Ensure Self-Determination & Food Sovereignty?
WELCOME to the first debate hosted by Liberty & Nation – the voice of the National Liberal Party.

Several months ago, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg staged a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. Since then, a growing number of schoolkids have been attending ‘Fridays for Future’ strikes. In fact, the climate action movement has seen around 70,000 children per week striking and marching in 270 cities around the world.

National Liberals are deeply interested in the environment. Indeed, as our artwork notes: ‘We believe that it’s the duty of man to live in harmony with nature and not destroy it. We need to live a more sustainable way of life – being less greedy, being less wasteful, using less natural resources and knowing where our food comes from. We feel that this will lead to a more rewarding, healthy, considerate and possibly ‘simpler’ life.’

National Liberals are also deeply interested in Self-Determination. But to achieve true Self-Determination we need to achieve Food Sovereignty. This means a move away from the global food system (which is dominated by corporations and market institutions) and move towards a system that is run by – and for – those who produce, distribute and consume food.
With all this in mind our attention was recently drawn to an article about Permaculture – – which was written by Marie Daffe and published over two years ago in the Dublin-based Green News.

So what is Permaculture and can it ensure Self-Determination & Food Sovereignty? Bill Mollison (1928 – 2016) who is regarded as one of the founders of Permaculture, described it thus:

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system”

Liberty & Nation invites its readers to consider the article below and to examine if Permaculture could help us ahieve Self-Determination and Food Sovereignty. Readers are then invited to share their thoughts when this article is reproduced on either of our two Facebook sites – National Liberals and National Liberal Party It goes without saying that there are no official links between Marie Daffe, Green News, Liberty & Nation and the National Liberal Party.


How permaculture can produce more per hectare – without pesticides, fertilizers and mechanization – than intensive farming

National Liberals believe in a more self-sufficient and rooted way of life - Small Is Beautiful! Of particular importance to us is Self-Determination and food sovereignty. We need to build the home market and get away from transporting food half way around the world. Permaculture may provide us a way to, ultimately, improve the health and wellbeing of our peoples – and thus the health and wellbeing of our nations.

THE IDEA of permaculture was conceptualized in the 70′s in Australia by the environmentalists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Its main goal is to create human installations modelled on natural ecosystems. Nature is the ultimate inspiration. The concept still can sound vague today, as it is usually seen as an agricultural technique only. It is actually more a conceptual and an holistic approach, based on three essential ethical principles.

The three ethical principles of Permaculture are:

• Earth care
• People care
• Fair share of resources and surplus

Permaculture puts emphasis on useful connections between all the elements of the garden, including human. It determines how and where they have to be placed to achieve maximum productivity. It thus gives a major role to the design of the garden, whose synergy is absolutely crucial. Practicing permaculture requires taking time. Being able to create the perfect arrangement is indeed first a matter of observation and reflexion. The result will be optimal if the whole system is well thought: interactions between elements will be maximized, so does the productivity, while the need for inputs and energy will also be reduced.

Permaculture is first of all a matter of common sense. Some people practicing it without even knowing it. Here are of the key features Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer highlight in their book Permaculture: heal the Earth, feed people (in French only) (1). The couple are running the Bec Hellouin Farm (2), a pioneer farm of permaculture in Normandy, France. They have received a massive coverage after appearing in the famous ecological documentary Demain (Tomorrow) and the place is now visited by people from all over the world.

In nature, everything is connected
Ecosystems work cyclically
Each element benefits to the others and receives from them
The waste of one is the resource of the other
Everything is recycled
Each important function is filled by several elements, and each element potentially fulfils several functions
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Each ecosystem operates largely autonomously and contributes to the entire biosphere

Find out the practical application of these principles in the below video, shot at the Bec Hellouin Farm.

Quality of the soil is actually the main key of productivity. Having a good soil takes time but is the basis of everything. Permaculture makes it possible to create humus and thus to restore the soil, while traditional agriculture destroys it (4), contributing in particular to its erosion. In fact, traditional agriculture simply feed plants with chemical fertilizers but stopped feeding the soil a long time ago. Mechanization also contributes to the destruction of soils. Recreating fertile soil is possible, but only on small areas, because it requires precisely to work without mechanization.
The Hervé-Gruyer couple realized when they started their farm that their soil was actually quite bad to grow vegetables. They took a couple of years to conscientiously restore it and to make it fertile, thanks to the supply in large quantity of organic matter such as compost, manure and mulch. Today they grow more than 800 different kinds of fruits and vegetables at the farm.

Nicky Kyle also insists on the crucial role of soil in plant growth. She is co-founder and a director of the Organic Trust (5) and was one of the speakers at the launch of the People4Soil campaign (6), supported by the Environmental Pillar (7), December last. With forty years of experience in growing organic vegetables, she explained how exhausted soils can be restored. Even if she doesn’t claim to practice permaculture, she is clearly implementing its principles. First of all: never leaving the soil uncovered. Mulch and compost are the best allies when it comes to protect and nurture soil. Nicky Kyle also gives a great importance to the cropping plan. Crops rotations and cultures associations are designed to maximize productivity, thanks to the mutual benefits they bring to each other. Each plot contains multiple vegetables. So where the intensive agriculture grows only one kind of plant, permaculture grows three of four kinds at the same time.

Permaculture supporters are truly convinced that this kind of production is the future of agriculture, as it can fulfil a lot of purposes. As the Hervé-Gruyer explain in their book: “We produce much on a small area, while creating jobs, making the environment richer, soils more fertile and while stocking carbon and preserving biodiversity.” Knowing that we will soon be 10 billion human beings on the planet and that extensive agriculture is anything but sustainable, permaculture farming might be the solution. It is necessary to come back to a local production, in small farms like the Bec Hellouin or even in a context of urban agriculture, very trendy right now. To take back control on our food and not depend anymore on a globalized intensive agriculture is essential, for our health and the nature’s. But it would take a lot of people to go back to the countryside and become peasants as their ancestors were. A return to earth in short.

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