Story by Ian Lillington who attended the International Permaculture Convergence in London. September 2015.
David Holmgren and Jonathon Porritt addressed the opening session of the International Permaculture Conference (IPCUK) in London on September 8 this year.
Cooriginator of the permaculture design system, David Holmgren, talked about the ‘waves’ of permaculture’s growth and says we are in the middle of the fourth wave. Former head of Friends of the Earth, Jonathan Porritt, acknowledged that permaculture’s principles were an influence on both his thinking and his spirit as he advocates for a mindset that is not dominated by greed and overconsumption.
Permaculturists from at least 78 nations were in the unique structure called ‘The Light’ in central London for two days, representing the 135+ countries globally, where permaculture is happening.
David’s voice and ‘big-picture thinking’ is familiar to most of us, but it was news to hear Porritt focus on food security and setting limits to population (as well as consumption). Porritt said that conventional statements about ‘doubling the food we produce by x’ makes no sense unless we address food waste. Around 30-45 percent of food at the farm does not turn up on the plate, and more is wasted once it is scraped off the plate uneaten. He also adressed meat consumption as much demand for new agricultural land is geared to producing feed for meat production, such as soy production in Latin America.
There is not a sensible conversation about soil nutrients, water etc, that have to be part of debate about food security and also to ignore waste and meat obsession.
As with energy, the answer is to reduce the need for more, not to obsessively produce more.
Both intellectual and spiritual
Porritt has been central to the organic food movement and has been part of GM debates. Looking back, he realised that debate hardly touched on the relationship between humans and the earth, especially the reciprocities involved. In contrast, the heartland of permaculture is different as ita is set of design principles that underpin the way humans produce our food.
Permaculture allows us to be part of intellectual and spiritual process that is going on. Porritt places a strong emphasis on the spiritual. He has learned to end his deep apocalyptic fear and to come back to the story of hope.
Conferences like this are important in making us dig deeper and draw on the wealth of resources that are available to us and connect to web-based stuff like www.foodtank.com, who’s analysis of the world of permaculture reported more than a million people certified in permaculture of some sort.
The value of enclaves and outposts
Enclaves – refuges – are places where people can withdraw from th world of modern agriculture, says Porritt. He went on to say that permaculture has a role in creating such places.
Outposts are different and they are connected, They are where people access the front line to engage in where there is difficulty and danger and where they can grapple with daily issues of food insecurity. Outposts are created when people join with local communities to address of social justice as well as food production.
In the mix of action and dreaming, there is a balance to be found and the permaculture movement provides opportunity to find the right place to be to act for a better world.
It’s an exciting world to Jonathan Porritt, one of creative chaos in which we permaculture practitioners have big role to play.