Erik Vegeto is currently a member of the Permaculture Initiative Practicum and garden crew. He is a student of Plant, Soil and Insect Science at Umass Amherst. His passion for restorative agriculture and environmental stewardship drives him forward into new frontiers of thought. Our appreciation goes out to Erik for allowing us to publish this post.
What is permaculture? Permaculture is a vision for creating a healthy humanity. But it is not just about creating a healthy humanity, it is about creating a humanity that is a blessing for the universe. Our shared destiny involves overcoming the residual effects of historical oppressions, rousing ourselves from the sleep of myriad kinds of ignorance, and remembering the instructions which lay dormant within our instincts. These instructions guide us to be happy people, loving neighbors, and dutiful contributors to the global ecosystem. Permaculture believes that we are fundamentally worthy creatures, naturally capable of symbiotically relating to all beings. It is the belief, finally, that the Earth is a kind of cradle for the birth of a grand jubilee of life, of whose ultimate destiny is mysterious and cosmically important.
In this reimagining of civilization, we hear the voices of our ancestors, whose primary concern was to ensure that whatever it was about human life that made it so beautiful, so rich and so good - that that survived. Our imagination about what’s possible seems to reach up to the stars. This ancient wisdom ensures we have no reason to be afraid: everything is in process like the development of an embryo or the germination of a seed; everything has a purpose, and everything is holy. There is no sting in death, only rebirth into newer forms and broader horizons. Though we have become estranged from nature, we are still invited back into the community of life, to prove our worth as creatures--as long as we are brave enough to venture into the mysteries of the wilderness unprotected by a sense of anthropocentrism.
At the heart of permaculture is a mystery: what does it mean to be human? It seems our answer to that question has defined much in history. If our answer to that question is wrapped up in behavior that is harmful towards ourselves and others, as is the case when we measure human worth by our ability to dominate and exploit, then we have avoided a real answer to that question. Everyone shivers at the thought of death, at the existential question of--what is it all for? But if one sits with the fear of nothingness, and is able, though great courage, to look beyond it, they will find a definitive answer. Love is what makes all things in the universe meaningful. That is the basis for all that we do in the world. Permaculture, then, is the practical application of the presence of love in all of our relationships, efforts, and moments of wonder. With this in mind, it should be remembered always that taking caring of ourselves, each other, our neighborhood, our community, town, country and planet, is a behavior that has a cosmic basis and ultimate importance, because it all finds a place within the story of love.
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.