IDEAS For Us | August 25, 2013

Member Highlight: Dorothy M Farrell

I am proud to be an American.

Most college students these days are not willing to admit this. We live in a world where both our planet and the people suffer from the greed and cruelty of those in power. Those on bottom are caught in a cyclical trap of destruction and disparity. There are gross inequalities in the world, and mind-blowing paradoxes. For the first time in human history, the number of overweight people is greater than the number of malnourished. Here in the United States, people are getting fatter each day off of their mindless consumption of processed garbage. Our chief crop, corn, is the American fodder and driver of a huge economic machine. Not only is its use becoming detrimental to our health, but its manufacturing process is causing a slow death to our beloved planet. “Monoculture” is like nails on a chalk board for Earth lovers like myself, but that’s another rant for another day because today I am proud to be an American.

I am free to educate myself and reject the conventional American diet. I am free to educate others (never against their will though!), I am free to choose alternatives to this culture, and if they do not exist, I am free to create them.

Luckily, I’ve stumbled upon the greatest philosophy on environmental care of this era: permaculture. In some cultures, this philosophy was always apparent. To the post-modern Western Idealist, however, they are counter-intuitive. Permaculture, meaning permanent agriculture, is based on principles of ecological design that treat the land like a self-maintaining ecosystem. Instead of constantly taming the land, why not use our knowledge and awareness to create designs that work with natural processes? Furthermore, permaculture abides by a set of ethics that guides all interaction with life on Earth. Human beings are interconnected with every particle and life form around us. To cause harm to them is only to cause harm to ourselves.

The book I am using primarily in my permaculture studies is “Permaculture: A Practical Guide for a Sustainable Future” by Bill Mollison. Mollison was one of the co-founders of the permaculture movement in North America of the mid-70’s. On page 1, the prime directive of permaculture is stated as, “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.”

There are three core ethical principles in permaculture: care of the earth, care of the people, and mindfulness of our own population and consumption. The concepts strike a chord of simplicity, but make perfect sense. Here are a few quotes I found from the EPA website that resonate with these principles.

increased, and not impaired in value.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The other day my friend and I were discussing the issues regarding our contemporary economic system. Many of the horrible things we do to our planet are incentivized by a huge, corrupt economic system. It makes change look very daunting. When I ask how him we can overcome such adversity, he responds, “Grassroots, baby!”

I am proud to be an American because I can go to a university, learn about the things I care about, and place my efforts into making the world better. There are a 7 billion opinions out there, but to each individual, only one counts. The world is crazy, but silly rants only affirm the status quo. Why not do something?

Our little farm is following the principles of permaculture to guide its growth. I have a few ideas of projects I’d like to implement. As I plow through this book on permaculture, and do more research online, I’ll be updating my posts on permaculture wisdom and practical uses.

– Dorothy M Farrell