Guiding Principles

We have selected a set of principles to guide us in achieving our vision for the homestead. Our principles are synthesized from two sources: agroecology and permaculture.

To best appreciate these principles, it’s useful to define a few terms:

Ecosystem: A system of interactions between the living and non-living components of the environment.

Agroecosystem: An ecosystem with the purpose of providing food.

Agroecology: The application of ecological principles and concepts to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.

We did not invent these terms or the ideas behind them. We are standing on the shoulders of giants who have shown us a way. We hope our implementation will do justice to these principles.

Principles

  • Maximize the structural and functional similarity of an agroecosystem to the natural ecosystems in its biogeographic region.
  • Take time to engage with nature so that we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
    • Observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
    • Use and value renewable resources.
  • Develop systems that collect resources when they are abundant so that we can use them in times of need.
    • Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
    • Ensure that we get truly useful rewards for the work that we do.
    • Discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
    • Make use of all the resources that are available to us so that nothing goes to waste.
  • Integrate rather than segregate.
    • Put the right things in the right place so that relationships develop between them and they support each other.
    • Take into account the natural synergies and connections between components that produce abundance.
  • Use small but slow solutions. Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  • Use and value diversity to reduce vulnerabilities to a variety of threats and to take advantage of the unique nature of the environment.
  • Creatively use and respond to change.
  • Increase sustainability by nurturing
    • Soil resources
    • Hydrological resources
    • Biotic resources
    • Ecosystem-level resources
    • Economic resources
    • Social resources
    • Cultural resources
  • Transform food systems by
    • Reducing the use of costly, scarce, or environmentally damaging inputs.
    • Substituting alternative inputs and practices.
    • Functioning on the basis of ecological processes that provide system resistance.
    • Reconnecting consumers and producers through the development of alternative food networks.

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