I watched this video the other day, and it deepened my appreciation of the symbiosis between inside and outside, me and the world around me. It helps my imagined understanding of the immense Gaian biosphere in which we earthlings live and move and have our being to hear tales from this tiny, two year experiment in the Biosphere 2 near Tucson, Arizona.
That spurred me to investigate the idea of agroecology, a discipline founded, in the main, by the two Odum brothers, who wrote the groundbreaking “Fundamentals of Ecology.” I’ve just ordered the book. Here’s an example of one of my eureka moments from the video below of one of the Odum brothers: the idea that we usually think about the environment as a stage upon which we, the organisms on that stage, move around. Think instead, he says, about the environment as a living character. And it’s telling YOU what to do!
That was the experience of the eight humans in Biosphere 2. We need to realize it’s our experience in the larger Gaiome sphere as well.
Just how does agroecology interface with permaculture? I googled that question and this came up, from the Kusamala Institute.
Permaculture is a design system based on ethics and principles that can be used to guide individuals, households and communities towards a sustainable future. Permaculture includes all aspects of life, including but not limited to agriculture, water management, waste management, green building and efficient use of energy.
With a focus on food production, Agroecology is the application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems. This whole-systems approach to agriculture and food systems development is based on traditional knowledge, alternative agriculture and local food systems.
By coupling Permaculture and Agroecology, Kusamala aims to link ecology, culture, economics, food and nutrition security to sustain viable farming communities.
Finally, I’m reminded of “Gaiome,” a prescient book written by a friend and former neighbor; in fact, Kevin and I took the permaculture design course together, in 2006 I think it was, and that’s how I got to know him. In this book, he argues that we don’t know nearly enough about Earth’s biosphere to think that we can travel through space inside a biome spaceship of our own making. And the “failed” Biosphere 2 experiment should certainly teach us that. Humility is in order. Every time we think we know something for sure, that we’ve got all our ducks in a row and every little detail mapped out, we don’t. We were wrong. The universe, for us all-too-human beings, is a mystery that deepens with each sojourn into the vastness.