Permaculture: A New Baseline for "Thriving"

When Permaculture Designer Mark Lakeman recently visited with Kalamazoo, I spoke with him about our American mindset of seeing everything as either a problem to be solved or as just another utilitarian tool for survival. 

Our homes, yards and communities are such a problem for us that we spend all our time dreaming, planning, saving and working so that we can go someplace else where people live more beautiful lives in more beautiful surroundings. Then, when it’s time to come home, we get depressed. And as soon as we’re back, we start saving up for the next trip away. 
What if instead, we spent that time dreaming, planning, saving and working on where we live,  so that when we came home we’d drop down to our knees and weep  because our home is so beautiful and our community so beloved to us. 

That’s the new baseline that Permaculture can provide us with. It’s time to stop trying to solve all the problems we continuously create, and start envisioning ways of living that are truly beautiful. 
This is true of our gardens, our homes and also our food. 

As farmers and gardeners, our baseline is often the same: gardening is fraught with problems and the food from it is just another tool for our survival. It’s always shocking to me when farmers refer to fruit and vegetables as “units.” 

There are places in the world where instead of utilitarianism, growing food is art. The San Mariano tomato, The Charentais cantaloupe, “Black Dirt” onions…. These aren’t just “units” to the people who grow them, they’re life!

By teaching us where to put our energy, which crops can be grown “extensively” and which ones “intensively” Permaculture frees up resources for us to reimagine our baseline of food, too. This year at Lillie House, we’re shifting our perspective from just growing food, to growing some of the best quality food possible. 

It’s time for us to change our baseline, to start dreaming about what food, gardens, home and life in Southwest Michigan could REALLY be like…. 

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