The permaculture was developed as a term and cultural technique in the 1970’s by the two Australians Mollison and Holmgren, for which they were awarded the alternative Nobel Prize. I have started to explore the topic more intensively, first because of my interest in ecological topics. But then I discovered that there are interesting parallels and correlations between permaculture and integral organizational development and Agile mindsets.

Permaculture is a holistic concept, with a variety of ideas, opportunities and strategies to achieve high yields on the smallest possible area with low energy consumption, effective use of resources and eco-social and also economic sustainability. It is also referred to as regenerative agriculture. We have largely used up the good soil structures of the formerly moorland-rich parts of the country. The proportion of humus is about 2% over a wide area. Permaculture attaches great importance to the soil quality and the humus structure. This proportion of humus can be increased to just over 50% within a few years. Thanks to holistic water management, permaculture also offers largely self-regulating solutions for very dry areas (desert greening) and also for waterlogging. It is therefore used successfully in tropical areas and desert areas.

The twelve principles of permaculture are derived from three guidelines:

  • Earth Care
  • People Care
  • Share the Surplus

Energy Generation – Yield – a comparison between traditional industrial agriculture and well-tried old methods
(Numbers from “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability” by David Holmgren)

  • Old agricultural systems with biological growth processes: Generate around 300 units of energy from 100 units of energy used. Ratio 100: 300
  • Modern industrial agricultures with monocultures, use of agricultural machinery, artificial fertilizers and pesticides: generate around 10 energy units of food from 100 energy units used. Ratio 100: 10

That means in plain language that modern monocultures
consume ten times more energy than they produce.

That is because they work against nature instead of with it.
Adding up the enormously high costs and expenses for storage,
packaging and transport, 
resulting from centralization,
one comes to a ratio of 100: 1.

Follow-up problems of modern industrial agriculture:
Rapid worldwide decline of agricultural productive areas due to erosion, acid rain and the unrelenting clearing of large forest areas. This leads to humus degradation, disturbed water cycles and insect deaths with far-reaching consequences for a wide variety of ecosystems.

The cure
The cure is to see the systems as a whole, to restore the self-regulating cycles and thus rebuild the humus and the water cycles. From the cultivation of monocultures with agricultural machinery back to the natural management of mixed crops, processed by hand.

The results speak for themselves:
Farmed with permaculture 1/10 of a hectare of land can produce as much yield as a whole hectare, farmed with traditional means and tractors.

This means, ten times more! And the rest of the hectare can be used for mixed holistic crops, trees, natural reservoirs and animals.

Does this remind you of the ten case studies in the book “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux? They show that organizations of all sorts of industries measured by standard performance indicators often far outperform their traditionally led competitors, even though they focus primarily on purpose and humanity. They are more resilient in times of low market and all ten have never had to lay off employees even during long time market crisis. If you are not familiar with the book, you can find some of these examples described in this article.

With my christmas donation this year (2018) I would like to support people and organizations that promote this highly important topic for the future of our planet, nationally and globally. They make a significant contribution to this.

Down to Earth – Marcus Pan
Marcus Pan designs and creates sustainable, future-proof economically and ecologically stable systems. He leads the Academy for Permaculture Design. The Academy teaches knowledge about permaculture – theoretically and practically – to all social classes and cultures. Nutritious organic gardens, landscapes and cities for plants, animals and people.

Verein Permakultur Schweiz
The association Permakultur Schweiz offers information, introductory courses, coordination of regional groups and a platform for permaculture trainers and services. (German website)

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