Permaculture Explained (Vol III Issue 5): Use and value renewable resources and services

"Let nature take its course"

Permaculture design aims to make best use of renewable resources to create, manage and maintain high yielding systems, even if some non-renewable resources are needed to establish the system in the first place. Klaudia van Gool from LAND Learning Centre Trevecca Home Garden gives her viewpoint:

For me this is about seeing yield all around: where can I harvest energy, water, materials from renewable sources? If I have a choice I make sure renewable resources have priority.

At Trevecca I've installed a rainwater harvesting system that flushes the toilet. I am fortunate that the garden slopes upwards behind the house to where the bathroom is. I can therefore collect water from the main roof and store it just outside the bathroom and feed the toilet cistern by gravity.

The water is stored in two large, black bulk containers that provide me with 2000 litres of storage. From there it feeds into the cistern. The cistern is also connected to a mains supply, but is switched off with a small valve when rainwater is abundant.

My next step is to harvest some rainwater for drinking and cooking purposes.

I have just bought a gravity ceramic filter so that I can function at least for a short time without mains water.

I recently harvested my willow. I grow a 'podge', a living pollarded fence of willow, along one allotment edge, pollarded so that it doesn't cast too much shade low down.

I was amazed at the quantity of biomass gathered. I have a selection of sizes for basketry, living willow structures and kindling. I addition to these functions willow also has medicinal qualities (bark contains aspirin) and can be used for striking cuttings.

I converted my car last year to run on waste cooking oil. Driving was my biggest environmental concern, but the places I need to get to for work & teaching are usually not well connected to public transport. It has been an interesting journey, not all smooth. Cooperation with others has been key in keeping it working and we partly exchanged skills (mechanics vs. website development) to get it sorted.

www.klaudia.co.uk