Imagine for a moment, the Garden of Eden. Walk through the garden, and take in the splendor of God’s design. Discover the birds and lizards eating insects from leaves so they don’t spoil. See how He put the legume trees and beans fixing nitrogen into the soil, feeding the hundreds of different fruit varieties, with many fruits always in season. Notice the complete, and total abundance of never wanting for anything. Adam and Eve had total food security, and total food abundance. Everything functioned as per God’s design, until the fall. Then, man began to till the soil. Well I have some news for you. God’s design for Eden still works, and it’s called Permaculture. So put down that soil killing plow, and read how God designed the world to live in harmony and abundance, while simultaneously taking care of His glorious Creation.
My name is Jeff Sokol, I am a Catholic Christian man and the owner of a company called “EarthCraft Permaculture.” As a permaculturist, the announcement of our latest Corporal Work of Mercy really hit home for me. What the Holy Father wrote regarding just HOW we are to care for creation, however, seemed a bit vague and really rather small compared to what we are actually capable of, and what we are commanded to do as per Holy Scripture. Sure, things such as carpooling, recycling when possible or convenient, and eating more locally grown produce are all well and good, but how much deeper can we go as Christians into caring for God’s amazing gift of Creation that He’s bestowed upon us.
All of Creation bows before the grace of God, yet we do so little, and this author is convinced that it is only because we have not been shown exactly how to care for Creation in the proper manner. This guide is an introduction on how to do that, no matter where you live.
So, what is a permaculturist? I am a designer of something we call “permanent agriculture”. A design science and art, that allows us to use the laws of nature that God has commanded into existence, that creates little to zero waste, builds soil (as opposed to depleting it), and in the process rehabilitates landscapes both large and small. The benefit to us is healthier food, healthier families, healthier people, and overall a healthier planet. We create truly sustainable, biologically diverse, agricultural systems, which mimic nature in every facet, and align things with God given human ingenuity to make them function better, faster, and produce more abundantly. This design method means that little to no chemical inputs are necessary which do harm to God’s Creation, such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
So what makes permaculture Catholic? Well, even though this design system was created in the 1970’s by an admitted atheist, the tenets and ethics on which it was founded are very Catholic.
There are three main “Permaculture Ethics” which must be adhered to if you want to truly practice permaculture in its fullest form.
1.) Care of the Earth
This is self-explanatory. Earth is God’s Creation, and by caring for the Earth, we are in fact caring for His Creation. Permaculture is the ULTIMATE way to care for the Earth.
2.) Care for People
This is also very Catholic, as we Care for Creation, we are also caring for people. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, comforting the sick, etc. are all corporal works of mercy that Permaculture does naturally, and in community. Permaculture is at its highest potential when done in community. This doesn’t have to be a commune, it can be a neighborhood taking care of one another with their own abundance grown in their own permaculture designed back yards. Permaculture at its best, is the ultimate way to care for people on a massive scale. We can show people globally how to do this, and how they can have permanent food abundance and security in their communities. Ultimately, Care for People is the protection of the most precious thing on Earth, life.
3.) Return of Surplus
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:9-10
In Permaculture, we return our surplus to the land. We don’t waste anything. Food scraps can be given to chickens to make more eggs, which make manure that can go into compost, to produce more tomatoes. Everything that’s organic has a renewable purpose, and can be reused so that we aren’t being wasteful. Our excess “grapes” can be given to local food banks, the church, homeless shelters, etc. Not only is it fun, it’s good in sight of the Lord. Everything we produce in abundance is from God, and by returning the surplus to the land that is HIS land, we make it stronger, healthier, and more abundant.
God has designed our world to be very, very abundant. However, through mechanical and chemical based agricultural practices, the land is literally being raped and degraded, with nothing going back. This isn’t just a minor deal that you’re not directly influenced by, this is a huge deal that is affecting you and your family’s health this very moment.
So what do we do as permaculture designers?
Think of us as landscapers, but instead of ornamentals plants and flowers for your front walk, we lay out and design systems of food production and security in such a manner that if utilized, people never run out of food. People can do this on an apartment balcony, or on a thousand acres of farmland. We can take old, degraded, downtrodden, cow pasture and turn it into lush, beautiful, abundant food and fuel production forests, creating security for that family, as well as surplus to be given back to the land and people who need it the most. We can drought proof property, creating springs that weren’t there before, all while even quadrupling the property’s value within 5-10 years. Yes, when following God's methods of natural abundance, your property value will skyrocket. The Garden of Eden full of fruit, ponds, and beauty is worth more than old cow pasture. You'll see just how abundant the Lord is when you really get into seeing how His methods work. God is truly amazing, and reveals Himself in nature.
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20
How does this relate to God?
We take the old agricultural model, and do it the way God designed nature to work. We simply do what nature is already doing, and working with the super abundant system in which God has given us to work. We work with God’s laws, God’s rules, and from that type of system comes the greatest food abundance the world has ever seen.
Did you know that for every “pest” insect, God created 1,800 other insects that are either beneficial or indifferent? We don’t need pesticides. God made trees pull up minerals from deep in the ground, so when we compost the leaves and wood chips they create, those minerals go into our food. He created the fungus in the soil that acts as the “internet of the soil”, which actually keeps tabs on the health of the plants in the environment, and plays nursemaid to the sick (as only one of its many functions).
How does this relate to YOU?
It’s high time we look around, see what God has given us to work with, and use our blessings to give Him all of the Glory He deserves. Don’t you agree?
God has given us nature….and He’s given it to us for free. Nature costs us nothing. Sure, land costs money, but 90% of us have yards with grass, that isn’t producing anything other than more grass that needs to be mowed. What if we grew a small garden in the corner of the yard, and produced tomatoes, carrots, onions, shallots, herbs, etc.? I guarantee a small garden can produce more food than your family can eat, if done properly. Many of us have land that is just sitting, doing nothing more than making hay to cover annual property taxes. This land can be used to create community using permaculture methods, and can even be a great source of income. Trust me, people are climbing over each other to be a part of a food abundant natural paradise, and will even pay to live on it.
“But Jeff, I live in a small apartment, what can I do?”
Glad you asked. You can grow anything you want, anywhere. Just because it may not be at your home, doesn’t mean you can’t participate in a local CSA (community supported agriculture) group, or grow any kind of veggie on your balcony. Pole beans, tomatoes, carrots, shallots, and medicinal herbs can all be grown very well in containers on your balcony. This is easy. You’re also caring for creation by creating part of your own food, because it didn’t have to be trucked in from Mexico or California. This results in less fertilizer being used, healthier food for you and your neighbor, as well as diesel that wasn’t used bringing your food to your table. Balcony to table…what a concept!
Where do we go from here?
On a broad scale, as my permaculture teacher told me, “We can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.” This is pretty much true. Whether we design systems for large scale agriculture to change their ways and help the environment while becoming more profitable, or if we just grow a few extra balcony carrots for the local food shelter, we are all sharing in the abundance the Lord gave us.
We can solve poverty with permaculture principles and design. We can solve hunger with permaculture principles and design. Many of the wars fought today in Africa are over fertile crop lands. They continuously deplete the soil, until they need to move and find new grounds. Permaculture can solve this issue as well, giving all people abundance and food security.
How can you help Care for Creation with Permaculture?
You can share this information. Share permaculture information. Introduce people to us so we can teach them, or learn about it yourself. Get a competent designer to help you design your property for absolute food security and abundance that you can share with your neighbor, church, shelter, or community. Sharing this knowledge is heavy, and far outweighs simple recycling philosophy of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” which we do in permaculture anyway. It’s far more beneficial than just carpooling, or deciding to forfeit Styrofoam cups. These things are all intrinsic to permaculture, and are taken for granted. Who do you know with land that might be open to setting up a permanent, fully functioning agricultural system that simply takes care of itself? Again, we design these systems to mimic nature. So once we get it rolling, there is little to no input needed.
Wrapping it up…
As a consultant, I specialize in giving advice in the agricultural industry to help farmers both big and small achieve higher yields with less inputs (= high profits), simply by using God’s design methods. I feel very blessed to be able to use my love of gardening and agriculture to continually commit works of mercy for my fellow man, and for God. We truly are wonderfully made in His image, and His divine guidance can lead us back to the land of Milk and Honey, so to speak.
If you are at all interested in learning about permaculture, feel free to Contact Me at www.EarthCraftPermaculture.com and like our FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/EarthCraftPermaculture/
God bless you, and I look forward to reading your comments and/or hearing from you personally.