Permaculture is an ecological design concept to create sustainable and self-sufficient spaces. It can be used for sustainable food production, or in your garden, on farms, etc. It is entirely organic or, better, bio-dynamic and works with nature not against it.
I have been studying permaculture for a while now and I am by no means an expert, in fact I have learned that there are no experts as such. When it comes to understanding how nature works, we can still learn heaps, nature is so humbling!
This is EQUALLY true for how nature interacts with humans, such as the impact of diet and lifestyle on our health or disease.
Or saying this the other way, we don’t know how much of disease is caused by poisoned and adulterated food, water and air.
The European Union has commissioned the largest study to understand the relationship of diet and disease, but even more data is required.
In Ayurveda, we already know that health is not something that occurs accidentally. It requires all components of the mind-body-spirit anatomy to be healthy. So, exposure to pesticides in food is a total no-go! (You can refer to one of my previous blogs on why organic is good for humans and the planet; in this article I simply want to make a different, yet related point.)
For the human race to go ahead and ignore the importance of nature’s integrity, to pollute food, water and air for the purpose of profit without consequence, we must assume that the only form of intelligence or accepted dominance comes in human form. Such narcissism at the helm!
We then totally ignore that individual species come with their own inherit intelligence, their right to live and be here and, just for a moment, the right not to be judged as inferior, a pest, as invasive or a weed, without further thought.
Yes, it does seem humans are born with an inherent sense of superiority, enslaving animals and abusing anything that is free and wild. You get the picture. Having set the scene appropriately, I am now ready to make my point:
Some plants are considered invasive, a plague, they are deemed to be infestations or over-running, which means they multiply freely and can’t be eradicated easily. So, they are out ‘of our control’, if you like.
Some examples are Oriental Bittersweet, the Norway Maple and Japanese Knotweed. The latter can get you into trouble when selling or buying a property, as some lenders won’t give you a mortgage when these plants are present.
This made me wonder … Why are these plants in such a hurry to be ‘right in our faces’ and seemingly up to annoy the human race simply with their existence, overrunning our habitat without the necessary permission from the council and not shifting easily when assaulted?
Could it be that there is a greater intelligence that causes us to HAVE TO take notice of them? Or is it a random freak mistake of nature that these plants don’t behave as we want them to? If so, is there anything we can take and learn from this? At this point, I remember an Indian saying, which goes: ‘The one thing you should accept with gratitude even from your enemy is knowledge.’
Yes, we have made these invasive plants our enemies, after all they are turning up without invitation and multiplying without license, clearly lacking any consideration of our boundaries and without the council’s permission … so then, what can we learn from them?
I have done some simple desk research on the medicinal benefits of these plants and the results are mind-blowing. They are accredited with medical benefits that help solve our lifestyle disease epidemics. Have these plants become invasive because we need them here?
So, for example:
- The young shoots of knotweed are accredited with beneficial effects on today’s lifestyle diseases, such as: memory loss, heart disease, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and diabetes.
- Oriental Bittersweet is accredited with beneficial effects on more of today’s lifestyle diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- The Norway Maple can be tapped to produce maple syrup. An expert in medicinal plant research has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup.
I am not saying go and randomly consume all these things. Quite the opposite, as this information is intended for educational purposes only and I can’t take responsibility for what you or medicinal manufacturers do with it. I simply want to create the awareness that the language we use to describe this wonderful paradise around us is totally inappropriate and wrong. Perhaps there is a more mindful way to look at the world, a practice which can inspire us on a daily basis.
Similarly, the next time you find a dandelion plant on your driveway and want to drown it with a (cancer causing) weed killer, spend a thought on why this dandelion might be growing in your proximity. Maybe you or somebody in your family can be reminded to look after their kidney and prostate a bit better, drink more water, or indeed have a cup of dandelion tea.