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"Permaculture" is an agricultural and social design system that is centred around creating sustainable and regenerative human habitats. The term "permaculture" was coined in the 1970’s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Australia, who saw the need for a more sustainable approach to agriculture and human habitation. However this concept has been demonstrated in many places around the World. Geoff Lawton, another great proponent of Permaculture, stumbled upon a 2000 year old example in Morocco, near the tiny village of INRAREN. Geoff, who was only 21 at the time, explains:
"The air felt cool, almost misty. Growing in the shade of tall date palms were trees, vines, and shrubs bearing bananas, tamarinds, oranges, figs, guavas, pomegranates, lemons, limes, mulberries, carobs, quince, grapes, and other fruits and nuts. Following a footpath through the grassy understory past groves of olive and argan trees, Lawton discovered a cluster of fenced-in vegetable and herb gardens—most about a quarter-acre in size."
"Here and there, goats were tethered to posts. Chickens clucked through the underbrush and roosted in trees. Gazing down a leafy corridor, he spotted a man leading a donkey. Its saddlebags brimmed with produce."
Regarding what Goeff had found all those years ago: Totaling about 65 acres, the food forest was a remnant of one of the world’s oldest sustainable systems of agriculture. While its origins have been lost to history, scientists agree it is at least many centuries old. Some, including Lawton, date its establishment to 2,000 years ago. When asked about the forest’s age, villagers shrug.
“I have no idea how old it is or when our ancestors first began gardening here,” says 45-year-old Abdelmajid Ziyani, a construction worker and member of a local argan and olive oil cooperative. “But I know it has been here for centuries.”
“It is really old,” adds 28-year-old Brahim Jidi, with a laugh. He works as a waiter in a local hotel and gardens in the forest as a hobby. He says he grew up hearing stories about his “grand- grand-grandfather” helping tend the forest.
In the 1970s, the communal space was “farmed” by about 800 villagers. Fed by underground springs and shaped by human hands since time immemorial, it was the image of a true oasis. The system remains in use today.
Now 65, Lawton describes his experience at Inraren as life changing, and he has spent a career growing food forests and advocating for their importance as a solution to climate change and other environmental ills. But back in 1975, his friends were threatening to leave him in the woods. Snagging a few oranges, he split. By the time the group reached Paradise Valley, the forest seemed like ancient news.
Permaculture has since become a worldwide movement, with practitioners in over 120 countries. This research paper explores the principles and design aspects of permaculture, including its history, philosophy, and practical applications. Permaculture is a sustainable design system that provides a practical and ethical approach to land use, agriculture, and community-building. It aims to create a harmonious relationship between humans and nature by using principles that focus on working with natural ecosystems. The following research paper explores the principles and design aspects of permaculture and the benefits it offers for sustainable living.