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Permaculture principles

Our work is based on a respect for nature and Mother Earth. The main principles of permaculture are as follows:

In permaculture, we plan for the long term not the short term, we believe in diversity as opposed to uniformity, we try to optimize not to maximize, and we live and practice cooperation instead of opposition and competition.

Permaculture works with nature, not against it

We human beings are part of nature and form an integral part of that system. As soon as we begin to work against nature, we begin to work against ourselves. We should not be exploiting and exhausting nature, we should be learning from it. The aim with permaculture is to recognize natural cycles and patterns in order to beneficially use them for our own purposes.

Permaculture is durable and resilient

Natural systems are astonishingly resilient. Their strength and durability are based on complex interdependencies and are characteristic features of well-planned and well-maintained permaculture systems. Each individual permaculture element fulfills several tasks and, at the same time, each important task is secured by several farm elements. Hence, the whole production system is closely interrelated and can cope with a partial or even complete failure of one branch of production.

Permaculture uses resources in a sparing and efficient way

Like all living creatures, we are merely passing guests in this world. Many have been here before us, and many will hopefully follow. We see it as our duty to act in a way that ensures the survival and sustainability of the natural resources and our environment. And not only so that future generations can inherit a healthy planet and allow them to live well, but also out of a deep respect for nature.

“Wildlife is under severe pressure in the EU, with 60% of species and 77% of habitats classified as having unfavorable status The number of farmland birds has declined by 57% since 1980 and there are almost 35% fewer grassland butterflies than in 1990… In France, a third of farmland bird species have vanished in the last 15 years… In central and eastern Europe, the numbers of farmland birds fell by 41% from 1982 to 2015.”

Agricultural Atlas, Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2019
Permaculture creates complex as well as flexible systems

One and the same rule applies to the economy as it does to nature: diversity enriches and stabilizes a system, it opens up possibilities for development and promotes resilience. We set great value on the diversity of our undertaking and on its flexibility to adjust to modified basic conditions. We should not run the risk of one-sided specialization, but should rather always have several branches of production as important mainstays – nature demonstrates this principle to us!

Permaculture understands ‘agri-culture’ literally

In its literal sense, agriculture means the cultivation of a limited piece of land. In contrast, the agricultural industry does not cultivate land, it consumes it. It mines the soil instead of building it up. In order to obtain cheap produce, the basic resources of soil and water are suffering large-scale destruction through overexploitation.
For us, it is essential to cultivate land in a way that ensures its long-term fertility.

According to UNEP (The United Nations Environment Program, 2014), only 11% of the earth’s arable land is cultivated. 7.5 billion people share the 1.5 billion hectares of cropland. That means 2,000 m2 for each person the equivalent of 40x50 m.

Permaculture is full of respect for animals

We are firmly convinced that the living conditions of all our domestic and farm animals should be appropriate to each species and to its characteristics and needs.
Species-adapted animal husbandry, along with sufficient space and the possibility to live out their innate behavior patterns, is the basic requirement for healthy animals. And healthy animals are the basis for high quality and wholesome food.

„34% der weltweit angebauten Nahrungsmittel werden an Tiere verfüttert.“

The Food And Agriculture Organization, FAO, 2016
Permaculture preserves autonomy

In our opinion, specialization and industrialization are the major causes of the biggest problems in today’s agriculture. Many farms are nothing more than food industry suppliers.

Apart from ethical and ecological concerns, the existing system brings enormous problems for the farming community. Due to financial dependencies caused by, amongst others, high interest rates on loans and the overriding obligation to meet delivery contracts, it is becoming virtually impossible for farmers to make independent decisions. Therefore, one of our most important principles is the maintenance of autonomy. We want to stay independent and be able to take free decisions.

"In the EU, just 3.1% of the farm enterprises manage more than half the agricultural land. Between 2003 and 2013, more than one-quarter of all farms closed down. "

Agricultural Atlas, Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2019
Permaculture respects individuality and uniqueness

Permaculture emphasizes creativity and individuality, it is considerate of differences in terms of natural conditions and personal preferences, needs and lifestyles. Hence permaculture landscapes look different wherever you go. They allow room for individual fulfillment and the realization of one’s own visions.

Permaculture recognizes potential

Everybody has specific talents and capacities. Some are just obvious, but others have to be discovered or awakened. The same rule applies to land. Each area, each region has its own potential. It is up to us to recognize the possibilities of this potential and exploit them in the most intelligent way possible. The golden rule is as follows: the better I render the prevailing conditions usable, the less I have to change. And this translates into needing to use fewer resources (energy, time, money, …).

Permaculture integrates traditional cultivation methods

Experience has told us that, even today, there are countless possibilities for the application of traditional, nearly forgotten, cultivation methods. For a very long time in the past, most farms were unable to externally source at large scale either energy or means of production like forage or fertilizers. Nobody could afford to mismanage their piece of land. Back then, sustainability was an existential necessity and not a fad.

The observation of traditional culture landscapes can deliver innumerable suggestions for the finding of solutions to present-day problems in agriculture.

Most of the techniques applied in permaculture are not new inventions, but a rediscovery or recombination of well-known methods. It is not our intention to unthinkingly glorify the past. Not everything was better in the old days. But there are tried and tested systems that should be transferred to the present and adapted to our needs.

Permaculture produces high quality food

The self supply of wholesome, high quality food is the biggest luxury and the greatest privilege that our profession provides. Sometimes we hear people say that this or that food could be bought much cheaper at the supermarket. Perhaps… but we are of the firm conviction that the quality and safety of the food that we produce on our farm cannot be bought for a million dollars.

In terms of crop growing, the harvesting and processing of the yield are vitally important factors which we try to do ourselves whenever feasible.

Inevitably we can’t do everything, but we strive to get better and better at what we can do. What we cannot produce on our farm, we buy regionally, and if possible from our neighbors. Or even better: we don’t buy, we barter.

Permaculture relies on niches and innovation

As is true for every other agricultural exploitation in central Europe, the main economic challenge for permaculture farms is closely related to the marketing that is done as opposed to the actual production process. The agricultural industry is constantly trying to lower the prices of its primary products to absurd levels. Some farmers still believe that the fall in the price they receive can only be countered by increasing production, but a growing number of people are realizing that this is unsustainable in the long term. So, what can be done?

We believe that the producers should no longer allow the industry to have the same level of control over their activities and decisions. If you are in a position to appropriately and properly market your products on your own, you can also live from the earnings of your farm, whether based on permaculture or conventional organic farming. We create our own market through consumer education and do not accept being told what to produce on our farm. We are permanently seeking new and innovative products and ideas.

Permaculture believes in old crop varieties and animal breeds

By means of selection over thousands of years, humankind has cultivated and bred countless plant varieties and animal species that are adapted to local climatic and soil conditions, have a particularly good taste or have some other specific and valuable characteristics. These different varieties and breeds are also an expression of the different preferences of people and the pleasure they take in variety. However, this diversity is being placed in jeopardy.

“Up to 90% of former crop diversity has already been irretrievably lost and the worldwide loss of species and varieties continues every day.”

Bernd Kajtna, Managing Director of ARCHE NOAH, 2020

It is well known that a great deal of the trade in seed and animal rearing is in the hands of a small number of globally acting multinationals. As their goal is profit maximization, not the maintenance of biodiversity, only those varieties and breeds that ensure them the biggest profit are offered on the market. Among other problems, this narrowing of variety leads to monotony even though farming should be one of the most creative and enjoyable of all professions. However, working with relish in and with nature requires room for experimentation and development, and biodiversity forms an indispensable part of that.

We must never allow the treasure of diversity and the right to freedom of choice be ripped away from us!

Incidentally, the genetic diversity that the (still) innumerable species and varieties carry within them is our best insurance for the future – especially with regard to the climate crisis and the changes that it will entail.

Krameterhof Newsletter

Abonniere den Krameterhof-Newsletter zum Thema Permakultur. Erhalte immer das aktuelle Kursprogramm. Nicht mehr als eine E-Mail pro Monat.

Krameterhof Newsletter

Abonniere den Krameterhof-Newsletter zum Thema Permakultur. Erhalte immer das aktuelle Kursprogramm. Nicht mehr als eine E-Mail pro Monat.

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