The short-term benefits of environmental abuse are too large to abandon, at least with the threat of disaster so far at bay. We’ve still got about 15, maybe 20 years before the ﬁre of climate change arrives. How soon do we really need to start sweating?
If worst comes to worst, I’m sure our children can deal with the tragedy of our negligence, but on the off chance that science or technology doesn’t pull through with some miracle ozone-repairing aerosol, perhaps a backup plan is in order.
The concept of living within our ecological boundaries has begun to catch some attention. It’s hard to imagine a life where we actually adhere to the limited resources of our Mother Earth, but with an economy as reliable as the weather forecast, there is something beautiful about the infrastructure of permanence in an ever-changing world.
The philosophy of “Permaculture” has been recently embraced in sweeping succession across the North American continent, more prominent in the West, but with surprising momentum in our Eastern cities as well. Permaculture describes a lifestyle that works in harmony with nature in the pursuit of ecological sustainability. Not just for Green trend fad-followers, in Toronto, the movement of Permaculture GTA has gained increasing attention from both the environmentally-concerned and pocket-book conscious.
We might ask ourselves, “How is learning to garden going to get me ahead in life”? Toyin Coker, founder and director of Permaculture GTA, explains how this growing philosophy can expand your social, economic, and intellectual potentials.
“Not only does it increase health beneﬁts for the family, but it can create an economic opportunity. Let’s take garlic, for example. At eight dollars a ball, a family could afford quite a bit by farming and growing garlic,” says Coker.
Permaculture, however, is much larger than simply growing your own food. Permaculture has large social aspects practicing the forgotten nature of community in a world of subdivisions where one’s neighbours are known by their landscaping.
Coker continues, “The social beneﬁts of growing one’s own foods connects one to a network of people, growers and producers, that can help subsidize their budget, simply because they know them. There is a huge culture of growing, and sharing in abundance within the permaculture community.”
Coker has big plans; somewhere, tucked away in the woods of the Greater Toronto Area exists Coker’s perma-paradise, a 75-acre oasis, in contrast to the broad concrete stretches of urban wasteland . She envisions a completely self-sustainable village on the land, which is member-dependent and communally driven.
Coker and her team are currently developing a passive solar cabin, complete with a solar shower, humanure toilet, forest garden, chicken and goats. The cabin will serve as a workshop of exercises and research, and will include a large kitchen element where people can grow and cook with future plans for art studios, music studios, daycares and health and wellness centres.
The only issue now may be breaking the habit of dragging the limp and bloated carcass of a proﬁt-driven economy. Building a society based on health, happiness and ecological harmony in a capitalist world is a little like trying to build a Japanese motor with a German instruction manual. Does this mean, then, we should all learn to speak German?
Not exactly. In Coker’s community, this simply means a radical separation from traditional educational methods.
“There are many more non-invasive ways to be educated. In our village, we homeschool children. Public schooling diminishes the ingenuity students bring to the table by discouraging creativity, the heavy focus being on the regurgitation of facts. In a homeschool environment, the teacher or elder is able to give context to life experience,” Explains Coker.
More and more, people are beginning to embrace the beneﬁts of permaculture and the simpliﬁcation of lifestyle choice. In the end, time is really the most valuable currency. Its market never changes. Although classiﬁed as a trend by those who think water comes from a plastic bottle and food comes from a store, Coker notes, “Very soon there will be no other option. If you don’t have the skills, it will be too late.