Self-Sufficiency

Sustainability.html
Community.html
Concepts.html

Self-sufficiency deals with equitable access to the resources needed by people to feel they have control over their lives. The most basic needs are for material goods and social arrangements to provide survival and security. Only after the basics are met does the opportunity arise for people to socialize, express individual creativity and participate in self-actualizing activity. While many people take these for granted, their availability is not guaranteed. Much of what we use to meet basic needs is imported and our waste materials are frequently exported. Even in well-off societies, poverty and deprivation are present.

One of the primary reasons to practice permaculture is to gain a degree of self-sufficiency, to not become fully dependent upon the commercial and global market for food, shelter, clothing, energy, economic support, care and entertainment. This is not to say that we are disconnected, particularly on the social level. One of the keys to self-sufficiency is connection to community and bioregion. To the highest degree possible we act as locally as we can for any given need.

Connected to self-sufficiency is self-responsibility and commitment to doing things for ones-self that one can do. One of the most available commitments is to "growing something" useful, a vegetable or an herb as a starting point. From there we can begin to look at ways in our life that we can become more self and community sufficient.

Several years ago I was working on a design project for a neighborhood in what would be considered an economically depressed area. The house lots were small, maybe 20 by 50 feet, and much of the lot was taken up by the house. Here in this neighborhood we found the most wonderful garden. Every square foot that could support plants had something growing in it. There were even pots on the porch and along the paved part of the drive. We found the owner had been growing her garden for years and that in this little space she had been able to grow all the vegetables her family needed. She only relied on the market for commodities she couldn't grow.

In many developed areas of the world the population has become so dependent upon the commercial marketplace that the idea of being more self-sufficient is not even thought of. Food is independent of growing it, clothing of making it, housing of building it, work of enjoying it, and entertainment of doing it. Life is disconnected from its sources of support. In fact, people dependent upon high levels of money exchange to obtain their sources of life support may look down upon the seemingly less well off people practicing self-sufficient life styles.

Permaculture offers an opportunity to live and produce by example. While the doing and showing is for individual satisfaction, techniques and lessons of permaculture are transferable to others who may want to know about and participate in more direct connection to the things they need for physical and spiritual sustenance. Some of the things we can do are:


Growing vegetables, herbs and flowers for use and sale. Trading seeds.

Cooking and baking. Sharing meals with a group. Making and using a solar oven.

Learning about and collecting edible wild plants. Collecting in neighborhood.

Preserving and storing food. Drying food using waste heat from refrigeration, water heater.

Participating in child care, health care, self-entertainment. Sharing musical talents, story telling, etc.

Repairing house and household items. Repairing 'found' discards. Recycling of items not needed.

Sharing of rides and car-pooling on errands. Trading other services and talents

Learning who neighbors are. Neighborhood watch. Sharing of books and magazines.

Making and mending clothes. Drying wash on clothes line.

Creating craft items for enjoyment, trading and sale. Participating in community market.

Joining local exchange and trading group. Joining community shared agriculture plan.

Taking surplus clothing to thrift shops. Using thrift shop items.

Making a passive solar water heater.

Walking or riding a bicycle for errands and exercise