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Connecting with the land

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

I embrace the philosophy, business, science and art of permaculture as the best way to return to Mother Earth all the nurturing she gives us, and more.

Permaculture’s roots reach deep into ancient and even prehistoric times. In the dawn of human history, humanity’s collective consciousness included all of nature. There were no boundaries between people and plants or other animals. All were of one mind, one organism.

This was before we humans began to compartmentalize, before we conceived of nations and fences and private property. Once we drew imaginary lines on continents and claimed sovereignty over private property, we began to perceive of ourselves as separate from nature, superior to all creation, with the wisdom of gods.

My ancestors had no concept of permaculture. They thought in terms of conquest. They wrested the land from its previous owners, claimed it as their own, settled some of it, and proceeded to destroy much of the rest for the sake of profit and social status.

I am grateful for ancestors who sowed the seed that allows me to walk the Earth. I want to credit their accomplishments. I also want to acknowledge their failings. I want to look inside myself and find the source of that strain of recklessness running through the Anglo-Saxon tribe that causes them — my people? — to wreak so much havoc in the world. Only by looking impartially at the facts can I begin to come to terms with the legacy my ancestors forged, or wrought.

In the settling of America, European homesteaders imposed harsh European practices — including genocide — on American soil. Anglo-Saxons invaded and native people died en masse — and for what? Look around at the industrial landscape we share today, and it's hard to honor the vision that led to this disconnection from soil, from the main ingredient in supporting human life.

The basis of homesteading is home economics — the art and science of organizing the kitchen and other household functions to achieve maximum efficiency, productivity, and hospitality. This is the heart and soul of permaculture, at least as I understand it.

Homesteading is a way of living off the land, ideally as part of a self-sufficient community. It’s what in a perfect world I’d be doing along with my family and friends, preferably out in the country.

I lived in San Francisco for some thirty years without realizing that a revolution in farming was in progress in much of California. Finally I woke to the fact ordinary people like you and me are applying permaculture principles everywhere. It is not rural versus urban, Black, white, Asian, Native American or Hispanic. Permaculture recognizes and values diversity.

Ecology teaches that ecosystems expand and contract by means of succession, and so it is with human cultures. Society consists of a continuous ebb and flow of fashions, languages, foodstuffs and events of all sorts. The ebb and flow behave just like ecosystems.

Permaculture design aims to put this ever-evolving diversity to work, employing people from all walks of life to do all kinds of mindful work that honors the earth and secures our place in the universe.

People want desperately to live in harmony with nature. So much of the anxiety and depression that engulfs people around the planet today stems from the loss of connection to earth and the fragmenting of family and community. Living in harmony with the earth is the essence of peace on earth. Human beings have been at war for a very long time. There’s a great hungering for peace. In the yin-yang way of the universe, peaceful times will come. We have the power to bring it sooner than later.

We are all better off when we take advantage of everyone’s unique abilities and disabilities, gender identities, sexual orientations, cultural traditions, and personal skill sets to fill niches in the fabric being woven to restore the earth.

-- Mark Mardon

Stockton, California

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