Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Design from Pattern to Details

"Can't see the forest for the trees".


This is part seven in my discussion of the 12 principles of permaculture. This time I am sharing my thoughts on the principle, "Design from Pattern to Details". 


This principle is often explained by looking at the site and establishing zones. For me to have the most success in designing from pattern to detail I looked at my patterns of behaviour; my husband’s; and how our household runs,our lifestyles, values and aspirations. Like the spider at the centre of its web we are at the centre of our design, and it needs to radiate out from there.  It will not be successful if I lay grand plans and start implementing them using strategies that others have found successful only to find these strategies don't  integrate easily into my life. This would  interrupt the flow of energy and create more work and lower yields (including personal dissatisfaction). So by identifying our patterns I can work them into a design that is most energy efficient for me and my husband.


Vegetables growing in zone 1

I see the principle of designing from pattern to details as very circular and comprehensive. If I look too hard at what other people do I could easily miss some great opportunities for optimising the patterns in my life and those within my household.

One of the patterns in my life is that I can’t stand working in the summer heat and so do manual labour early morning, late afternoon and evening. This means unlike in cold/temperate parts of the world my fallow garden vegetable season is summer.

Pattern determines how elements flow, function and relate to one another. This information can help us to build smaller, more productive systems such as the keyhole garden shown in the picture above. Other patterns to be taken into consideration are seasons, wind patterns, sunlight, water flows etc. Once these patterns are identified, the details are organised in and around the patterns. These elemental patterns when integrated into a design can help make it self-sustaining and self-perpetuating.


Orchard in zone 3

Before committing to a design for our property I also gathered information on water flow across the property to determine if another dam were feasible and also to determine where we might put swales to slow the movement of rainwater across the property giving it time to soak further into the soil. 

Are you familiar with permaculture. How do you apply the principle 'Design from Pattern to Details' in your own life?

8 comments:

  1. Sherri, I need to learn more about permaculture as it is very interesting reading about it.

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    1. It is interesting isn't it? I enjoyed my course of study so very much and got such a lot out of it. David Holmgren one of the co-originators of Permaculture has a new book due to be released early next year. It should be a good read.

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  2. Permaculture really makes sense. I'm a member of our local permie group and have learnt a bit, we are starting to plan our food forest again (storm took out several trees).

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    1. I envy you being a member of a local permie group Judi. We don't have one where I live.

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  3. I dunno about permaculture in details . Looks like it needs detailed :D
    Glad for the information..

    I am dreaming of green garden when I'll start my own family.

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    1. Thank you for commenting Rosa. I hope you do grow the green garden you have been dreaming of.

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  4. Oh I hadn't thought about patterns of behaviour, I'm really enjoying reading your posts, I get to see things from a completely different perspective. I had really only thought about zones and patterns of use. I also used the sector concept to identify where we needed to put windbreaks and fire protection around our house.

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    1. Thanks Liz. I found the sector analysis so helpful when preparing the design for our property. I continue to learn and understand more as my observation skills improve.As permaculture practitioners we are dealing with really complex systems and in blogging we have such as useful way of learning and helping each other. And I have always found your blog helpful for expanding my perspective and knowledge.

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