This week, I had the opportunity to enjoy an evening screening hosted by Transition Sarasota of filmmaker Cōsta Boutsikaris’ documentary Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective which takes a close look at a host of folks around the eastern United States who are embracing, implementing and thriving on the permaculture culture by reshaping their relationship with the land. From a farm in New England to a backyard in the suburbs to a rooftop garden in NYC, we are introduced to the idea that there are many perspectives from which we can view and apply permaculture, no matter where we happen to live.
Q: Will permaculture work?
A: Will plants grow?
-Bill Mollison, original developer the permaculture system
Most of us have probably heard about permaculture, an idea and philosophy and approach to interacting with the earth that’s got a kind of hippie-movement vibe to it (..not an insult in the least!). But what some may not know is that it applies to not just the nature-loving flower child, but to humanity as a whole.
Through the practices of permaculture, humans consciously and thoughtfully work with earth’s systems, rather than against them, ultimately helping maintain a stable and productive landscape that will, in turn, continue to support humanity and the life with which we share this planet. By approaching our relationship with the land in a harmonious, holistic and sustainably-minded manner, we are not only treating the earth with the respect it deserves, we are ensuring a healthier future for this planetary environment that we owe our very existence to.
Our control over nature is backfiring. [It’s time we] understand ourselves not as lords and possessors of nature, but rather a part of nature. –Charles Einstein, author and public speaker
Watching this film, I found myself not just educated, but also inspired and given a renewed sense of hope not just for my own future, but the future of all life. The way that humanity tends to works with the land is not “with” it at all, but rather against the balance of nature. We erroneously continue to follow traditional agricultural practices, that of manipulating the land in order to mass produce monoculture crops in avid opposition to most ecosystems’ tendency toward biodiversity. This only degrades the natural fertility of the terrain and ultimately requires massive application of pesticides in combat against the land’s natural tendencies, only further impacting the greater natural environment that’s essential functions already long lost in the face of agriculture as it is primarily practiced today.
Throughout the documentary, we are given a peek into the many approaches to the practice of permaculture, but one prevailing factor is promoting and maintaining biodiversity. The term “polyculture” is introduced, which implements a balance with nature by incorporating multiple components into the system. By promoting biodiversity in a landscape, a more natural, closed-loop system that can support itself, and consequently thrive, will result. Some examples of polyculture provided in the film include planting nitrogen-fixing plants that provide and maintain this key nutrient within the soil, incorporation of a variety animals into a permaculture system can provide pest control and fertilization, planting a new crop into an old one, instead of tilling the land, prevents soil degradation and preserves the nutrients already established in the earth. The benefits of biodiversity are reflected by a flourishing system that will, in turn, provide bountiful sustenance while also providing ecosystem services that rewards both human and nature in the long run.
For everyone, [this film] will be a reminder that humans are capable of being planetary healing forces. –InhabitFilm
Permaculture is a movement that I look forward to witness the burgeoning of over the course of the future. This film gives us a sneak peek at what benefits will come as a result. Watching this film, I already am encouraged about our future in the face of climate change and unsustainable and unhealthy agricultural methods. Thanks to the permaculture perspective that Inhabit has bestowed upon me, I’m looking forward to further exploring this inspiring and hopeful philosophy of working with the earth to promote healthy and sustainable sustenance to body, mind and, most importantly, earth.
To watch the trailer, rent or buy Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective, click here!
To explore more work by Inhabit filmmaker Cōsta Boutsikaris, check this out!
Tags: agriculture, animals, biodiversity, ecological systems, environment, farming, gardening, landscape, permaculture, planet, plants, soil, sustainability, sustainable agriculture, terrain