Catherine Urbano is a senior studying Biology at UMass Amherst. She was enrolled in the Fall 2019 Permaculture Gardening practicum (STOCKSCH 198P)
I was one of the students in the Permaculture practicum course offered at UMass Amherst this past semester. When I first signed up for the class, I didn’t really know what permaculture was. In my mind, I thought it was gardening. Which to some extent, it is. However, permaculture has certain ethics and principles that make it more than just your typical gardening. Permaculture can be defined and interpreted in different ways, but it is essentially regenerative agriculture based on whole systems thinking and maximizing the use of features in the natural ecosystem.
This course opened my eyes and reminded me how important it is to connect with the world we live in. It also taught me about designing, creating, maintaining, and improving a garden using pretty much just the nature around us. We spent time harvesting vegetables, processing herbs, planting seeds, weeding, relocating plants, and more. Getting my hands dirty and thinking about how all the plants interact with one another gave me a better understanding of why permaculture is so important. As humans, I feel like it is easy for us to remove ourselves from our natural environment. As more time goes on, it seems like most of us have lost our connection to the earth and everything it provides us. It is so easy to go to the store and get any product we could ever imagine. We turn on our sink and clean water comes rushing out. We go to grocery stores and buy food that grows nowhere near us and/or isn’t in season. But do we know where this food came from? Do we know how it was grown? Permaculture allows us to connect with the environment and the food we eat. I think people would have a greater appreciation for their food if they planted it, watered it, watched it grow, harvested it, and eventually eat it. So much hard work goes into producing food, both for the human and the plant. There are few things that are more satisfying that eating a fresh pepper or tomato that you helped grow. If you are looking to learn some helpful gardening tips and respark your connection with nature, I highly recommend it!
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.