My Permaculture Adventure–Longing for the Shire
“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
For those of you who had read my previous posts, you may know that my adventures in Permaculture and Transition started in 2011, when I read a little book called 12 X 12.
My first steps where to plan an Energy Descent Action Plan for me and my family and start a small garden: I grow vegetables and herbs in my 6 X 12 ft deck (all in containers) and a few more on a 4 X 4 ft raised bed in my tiny townhouse backyard.
But my real “Permaculture adventure” didn’t start until this year (2013) when I took a Organic gardener course at Gaia College and then joined the BCFSN annual gathering (July 5–7 at Shawnigan Lake) and was introduced to the life at O.U.R. Ecovillage: there is when I saw Permaculture in action. This triggered my taking a PDC at UBCFarm in August and engaging in what seems to be the first steps towards a life dedicated to Permaculture learning, integrating, sharing, growing and (eventually if the elves allow it), teaching and working in community service.
My encounter with O.U.R. has something magical attached to it: as many others, I fell for The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and books. I don’t wonder why, I know why: As with many others, I have longed all my life for a community life that made sense, for a more fulfilling and meaningful life that integrated and respected Nature as one of its more important members. That’s the catch LOTR has for us: we see simple people (like the hobbits) enjoying true food security and being resilient: all their energy and needs come from within the system. They have abundance and live in balance with Mother Nature, few rules and fewer conflicts, and they enjoy peaceful lives with plenty of time to dream, think, dance, read and celebrate: life in The Shire is what I found at O.U.R. and in Permaculture.
My engagement with both O.U.R. and Permaculture has led me to become their blogger and supporter…dreaming to make time to be there more often and learn more about living in community, dealing with different personalities and needs, sharing the space simply and courageously, allowing everybody to flourish through their skills and gifts, while exploring and researching more sustainable ways to grow food, integrate animals and generate energy.
But my steps have sent me even further: last July, I had the opportunity to attend another workshop: Urban Permaculture with Toby Hemenway (author of Gaia’s Garden book ). And from there, I met another incredible place: GaiaCraft at Roberts Creek, in the Sunshine Coast, where an inspiring elf (or hobbit?) is making Permaculture his life mission. I had the honour of meeting Delvin last Monday and discovering a whole new world. This has sent me to my second PDC, to explore a different learning/teaching style and wider dimensions of the Permaculture concept. (I encourage anybody interested in Permaculture to take more than one PDC while applying and sharing the concepts, mostly if you want to dedicate your life to spreading and teaching Permaculture: different trainers bring different approaches and gifts to it, and taking the courses allow you to grow as a person and exchange what you have learned while applying new concepts)
What I discovered this time was something I knew in my heart and from past readings: that Permaculture is not about gardening or farming sustainably. Permaculture is about living: part of it is indeed about growing food and plant guilds, efficient generation and use of energy and “resources”, respect for all life and being self-resilient. But a big portion of Permaculture has to be with how we see the world: it is a paradigm shift that takes great courage and some sacrifice (at least at the beginning, for those of us still attached to “normal” and deeply unsustainable lives)
As part of my growing, I will start a “Permaculture portfolio” which will explore (observe and map) from zone 0 (body, mind and heart, career and life decisions) to zone 5 (my relationship with and my role with the world as a whole) while learning by applying the concepts: from my garden to my Transition group in Village Surrey and our Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition where we are trying to bring more community gardens, edible forests and community re-skilling workshops
As a certified career counsellor and ex-teacher myself, I encourage all to do the same: mapping where we are right now in life, without judgements or blame. And then “design” where we want to be, with whom and how that will happen.
For me, my path is clear: I want to be one of the hobbits who humble works towards a more sustainable and beautiful world.
Argentine-born Silvia Di Blasio studied Psychopedagogy and systems analysis in Venezuela before moving to Canada in 2004. She has worked in open source and ICT systems for schools and specialized in eLearning and adult education. In Canada, Silvia works as a career counsellor, blogger and freelance writer and volunteers at the Surrey/White Rock Food Action Coalition. Silvia is one of the pillars at Village Surrey, a Transition initiative in the city she now lives with her family.