Case Study: A Permaculture Food Revolution in Poland
We take a tour of Poland's emerging permaculture scene and find that forest gardening, formerly a traditional way of producing food for families, is gaining popularity once again as is the movement against industrial agriculture.
Permaculture concepts have now spread beyond the garden. Around 1.5 million traditional small farms are now producing food for their families and selling their surplus as additional income.
These farmers are self-taught in progressive sustainable farming methods, which has had an incredible impact on thousands of people. They have built a strong community bonds using local, renewable resources and helping to preserve cherished local areas, whilst laying down the foundations for a biodiverse, healthy future.
Using Permaculture to Override Industrial Farming
Many farmers in Poland have realized that the mass scale farming system does not provide for a healthy lifestyle, which like many places in the world is identifiable by the bounty of heavily sprayed exotic fruits available all year round.
Small permaculture farms in Poland are seen as a solution to the unhealthy mass-scale farming system. By growing our own food or buying it from small farms, we are collectively moving away from a Western agricultural model and helping farmers to adopt more ecologically sound methods.
Creating a Forest Garden
In 2007 the ECOCENTRE ICPPC began work with American permaculture teacher and designer, Karl Schmidt.
One of the projects that came out of this was the development of our herb garden. Here we grow all types of useful, commonly used kitchen herbs, as well as some slightly more interesting varieties and a host of medicinal herbs.
Workshop participants designed and planted a small forest garden, which is modeled on a natural forest. The plants in this system grow in different layers, each layer providing an array of healthy, edibles crops.
Here we planted apple trees, grapes and a variety of bushes: currant, chokeberry, edible rose, hazel. The lowest part of the forest has been kept for strawberries, blueberries and herbs. The resulting garden is one that requires very little maintenance, while providing a surplus of food.
Building an Insulated Seed Ark
We try as much as possible to use local seed varieties and plants. We collect and store seeds from our own crops, allowing us to achieve good yields and enjoy a variety of native, organic plants. However, with our climate, it can be difficult to store seeds properly, which is why we have built an insulated store.
In 2011 we held a workshop for building the ark with clay and straw, where traditional varieties of seeds now reside, stored in the safety of earthen jars.
The Future of Permaculture in Poland?
With so many people disappointed with the quality of food available in the shops, we are seeing a growing demand for organic food and also for the knowledge associated to growing that food. Dozens of people have already taken part in the permaculture courses held at our own ECOCENTRE ICPPC.
We are in the process of organising further permaculture courses - including the first Polish Permaculture Design Course in 2013 (For more info, visit our website www.eko-cel.pl.).
The concept of permaculture rapidly increases in every corner of Poland. Basically farmers are using these techniques to promote traditional farming or gardening formats. It is the best way to producing foods and also reduces the effects of pollution; which ultimately develop a healthy lifestyle around the community. Therefore we have found these types of beneficial things to see in poland; it helps to provide a healthy environment to the people and also reduce the affects of global warming.
Some specific examples of these 1.5 million farms would be interesting. I live on a small farm in northern Poland and try to implement permaculture principles but don't know of anyone else who is doing this. In fact, the local garden shops do a roaring trade in chemicals and all the small farmers I know use as much artificial fertiliser, chemcial weed killer etc as they can afford. But maybe it's differentin other parts of Poland!