|On the Ferry|
The Bullock Brothers brought an unusual approach to the property they farm on Orcas Island. Like all permaculture approaches, they approach farming like Tai Chi Chu'an. The purpose is not to work against Nature in farming but to observe, adapt and observe again using Nature as a partner more than an opponent to be subdued. Everything about growing must be considered: climate, microclimate, companion planting, water source and water treatment, the farmer's own consumption and waste generation, non-farm animals like bullfrogs and songbirds. It is this reflective engagement with farming that makes most people in the permaculture world consider the Bullock Brothers operation one of the most interesting examples of permaculture being employed, and one with obvious results.
|A multiple-grafted apple tree or "Frankenfruit."|
One skill builder, Jane, conducted our group's tour today. For three hours she walked us through the farm's kitchen, herb garden, tree forests, ponds, chicken pens, plant and flower nursery, water management system, living quarters and a host of other elements at work. While we walked around the property she showed us example after example where the land had been healed, where innovative production methods were at work, where plants and soil and critters all seemed to buzz in a harmony that made me think, this is what farming ought to look like.
|Jane explains the solar-powered water pump system|
Presently the world relies on a global corporate system that uses chemical and petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides and questionable land clearance practices to provide the world's food. That approach has limits that seem more and more apparent every day. It seems to me that trying to be a partner in growing makes more sense than growing food in a global, highly mechanized and chemical basis in the long run as quality local food becomes more valued and appreciated. Could it be that permaculture and examples like the Bullock's Permaculture Homestead are going to show the way to make agriculture a much more meaningful and proximate part of human life? Do we have the time and means to fulfill the promise of permaculture?