This article is all about the fourth permaculture principle. The principle number 4 that says apply self regulation and accept feedback.
The last weekend I was on a permaculture meeting from the permaculture academy in Germany. They have a regular meeting once a year where everyone can take part. There where workshops and some presentations from permaculture design students.
On one occasion I had a very interesting conversation with one of the permaculture teachers of the academy. We where talking about the permaculture design course and then I told him what I am doing right now. I told him that I moved back home to implement the project which I planned as the final presentation during the PDC I took in Thailand. He was surprised that we have been suggested to plan a project for the completion of the course that we could actually implement.
He said, during the PDC courses that the permaculture academy would give, they would not suggest the students to plan their own piece of land. His explanation for this was that the fact the project could be real, the fact that it could be implemented, would limit the imagination of the participants. In this stage of the learning process the PDC participants would just not be at the point where they could plan an actually real project. He would go on and tell me that they would only think about their favourite elements and how they could actually implement them in their property. I was kind of nervous listening because I felt that this might have been the way I proceeded. So he would then say that people would always end up planing certain elements as „a pond“, „hugelkulture garden beds“, „a greenhouse“ and so on. Well, I responded that he just described me and what I was doing.
His concern was that students who would go ahead and plan their project during the PDC for a piece of land that they would actually work with, could get easily frustrated. If you have no idea what you are actually doing, it´s more like jumping into cold water. But it can be very refreshing. Never mind. When he expressed his concerns about the frustration I thought that he might have a point in that.
The conversation went on for a while. The conclusion on my side was, that it might limit our imagination when we stick to something real. Especially when we are not that practiced in the field of design. But on the other hand, if we don´t plan something real and if we don´t go ahead starting to implement it, when will we begin to stick our hands into the earth? Even though I am struggling with being inexperienced and having many ideas and even expectations that can not be met where I am right now, I am happy that I made the decision to start this project. Try and learn and try and learn. It´s my mantra 🙂 Because in reality I am pretty afraid of making mistakes.
As a result of this conversation I started to think more sincerely about the state of the project right now. The biggest finding I got to is that I did not really follow what I wrote myself in the first principle observe and interact. I wrote: „We want to look, watch, listen, touch and interact rather than just oppose our ideas on a piece of land“. But what actually happened was that I came here with a certain Idea, a certain plan and I just started to implement it. I did not take the time to observe the land throughout the seasons or even a week or something. Well I don´t really know if that would have made any difference though. But what I did then was observing my parents and how they reacted on the project. I am very thankful for their support and openness to let me try things out on their property. But what I did not realise before I came here was, that this is my dream. It´s definitely not theirs. They even told me this in the beginning. But I was so convinced about my plan, that I did not really listen. And permaculture is something that grows in community. Well over the last weeks it became more and more clear to me, that it is a little bit crazy what I am doing here. I would say crazy in a good way, but still crazy.
Now with this new finding we applied the principle number 12 and creatively responded to change. The main change here is the integration of my parents wishes. Wow, that’s a big one :). So we came to the conclusion, that by not knowing if we will go ahead to live together next year it would be unclear if anyone is using the greenhouse. If I would build it now. So we decided that I am not going to build it. Even though I would really love to. This geo-dome greenhouse was one of my favourite elements. But no, lets stay real here. We also decided to think about perennial flowers and more colours in the garden throughout the seasons.
To motivate myself a little bit in the end of this article I want to tell you that it is getting more and more beautiful each day. More green and blossoming. I thought, that we could actually bow down in front of nature, because it is definitely not afraid of growth. But we are nature too. We can not even avoid growing.
So to anyone challenging change in their projects and doubting about what they are doing, go ahead. You will always learn and I believe in soil 🙂