Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

"Let Nature Take Its Course"

This is the fifth installment in my discussion of the 12 principles of permaculture. This time I am sharing my thoughts on the principle, "Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services". 

This principle is about husbanding our renewable resources using thrift and prudence. Today we hear the word sustainability used often, this is because we  have reached and era of resource limits. Using and valuing renewable resources and services in preference to using non-renewable resources is very important in both mitigating effects of climate change and in leaving some non-renewable resources for the generations that follow.

Passive cooling and heating within the home are good examples of using renewable resources. By orientating a house design so that it catches the prevailing summer breezes a home can be kept more comfortable in summer. By designing the house so it is shaded from the hot summer sun but brings the winter sun in to warm up the house we can avoid or at least decrease the need to rely on non-renewable energy resources. If we add a solar power system then it is possible to avoid using non-renewable energy resources altogether whilst keeping the home a comfortable temperature.

The Australian Government's website yourhome.gov.au describes the type of home and lifestyle toward which we are transitioning. 

 "Housing of the future will be flexible, adaptable and resilient, helping us to respond to both predicted and unexpected change. As resources will be scarcer and most likely more expensive, housing will need to be capable of meeting its own energy and water needs, producing food and recovering precious nutrients and materials from waste streams. It will be space-efficient in response to ecological limits and the increasing number of single person households, reversing Australian housing stock’s current status as the largest (by floor area) in the world (James 2009)."

Using and valuing renewable resources and services encourages us to use our resources fully so that one resource is used for more than one purpose; and to use our resources in a manner that supports their renewal and regeneration. Chooks kept in the back yard for example, as a resource can supply eggs and meat, eat garden pests, and add fertility to the garden with their manure. If we are to value that resource then we look after the chooks properly, seeing to it that their shelter, food, health and water needs are met properly. This includes mucking out and cleaning their coop.

I meant to take some photos of some chickens but time has fled
so here is a camel photo instead!

 Joel Salatin of Polyface farms moves his grass fed beef cattle from one small lot to another every day or every other day. The cattle fertilise the area during this time.  He follows the cattle with chickens and they dig through the cow manure and eat fly larvae and in turn leave more manure on the field. In this way they are following nature’s template, and using healthy soil to produce healthy food rather than treating cows as omnivores. “We haven’t bought a bag of chemical fertilizer in half a century, never planted a seed, own no plow or disk or silo—we call those bankruptcy tubes.” Joel Salatin. 


  1. Ha ha Sherri, I had a giggle at the camel photo. I have a chook that just likes to eat my veggies if she can. Hopefully she is doing some good as well :-)

  2. Oh yes, that chook would sure love your veggies, but I am sure she is doing some good. The camel was at a local market a few weeks back, to the delight of a lot of children.

  3. Joel's videos on youtube and other of his writings are very, very interesting - they really get me thinking.

    1. I agree, I admire his forethought and vision, he is one smart cookie.

  4. Hi, Sherri. I can't wait to read all your Permaculture posts. It's something I started to read about years ago and keep coming back to. I have read one of Joel Salatin's books, "Folks, this Ain't Normal" I think it was called. The thing that appeals to me most is the working with nature and not against it. Meg

    1. Working with nature is so much better for us. There are so many garden critters I have learned to call my workmates. But I have still a long way to go before I learn to correctly identify all of them.