3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing
Truly useful rewards will depend on your own personal values and individual wants and needs. What one person values, another may not. To ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards, means you need to know what’s important to you. And once you do, you can decide where you will put your resources and energies in order to obtain a yield. When we started looking to buy land from which we could live more sustainably, one of the things that was important to both of us was being able to grow our own meat in a sustainable, ethical manner. As part of setting the criteria against which we would measure available parcels of land, we worked out how much land we would need to sustain enough cattle, sheep and chickens in order that we would have enough to eat, without depleting or overstocking our animals beyond sustainable levels. It is a balance between too much and too little. To a vegetarian, keeping sheep might be useful for keeping the grass down and providing wool, but the usefulness of the meat they might provide may be missed.
Good permaculture design looks for multiple benefits and rewards from any particular aspect of the design. Sheep provide manure, wool, grass cutting services and, if you choose, meat. Similarly, cattle can provide the same services, without the wool – but ultimately may provide you with hides if you chose that path. Chickens provide meat, eggs, feathers, manure, small scale ploughing services, waste recycling, as well as parasite control.
Trees can provide shade, shelter and fodder for browsing animals, as well as bearing fruit, providing firewood and creating mulch as the leaves renew themselves. Selecting the best trees for your design means taking into account all of the things you see as truly useful rewards according to what you are trying to achieve.
So how can you incorporate this into your life? Next time you are considering purchasing or procuring something, consider what yield you can obtain from it. Does it just furnish one need or desire or can it achieve multiple outcomes for the same energy inputs as a single outcome item? Consider buying a watch – it can be a time piece but it can also be a piece of jewellery. If you are fashion conscious the same watch can also be a brand statement. If these are things you consider to be useful rewards, then this simple watch can provide many outputs.
When harvesting vegetables or fruit from your garden, or purchasing something at your local farmers’market, consider how you might use the whole fruit, not just the sweet fleshy part.
- save pumpkin seeds and use them in pesto instead of nuts, or feed them to your chooks for the protein they provide
- feed apple cores to worm farms or chooks to recycle the ‘wasted’part from your cooking
- recycle plant cuttings and prunings into the compost bin
- crush egg shells to create a barrier for your leafy greens against snails and slugs
- keep bees to assist pollination as well as to provide honey for your own use, or for bartering exchange with others
- take cuttings from your favourite ornamental plants, strike them in potting mix and give them as gifts to family and friends
Even doing the washing can be a gardening exercise if you recycle grey water from the washing machine onto your fruit trees or ornamental garden (don’t put grey water on vegetables).
Remember if energy is to be expended, obtain the best yield you can for the inputs you are providing – this brings us all to being a little more sustainable and using less to obtain more.