Put frankly, the film we watched on permaculture blew me away. I was left feeling as if permaculture was powerful enough to bring about a transition to a society like those we have read about in “Ecotopia” and “Pacific Edge.” The film did an excellent job of showcasing how permaculture could be deployed across the country and transform our use of city space, suburbs and farms, and begin to leave a positive footprint on the planet. I knew that food in the Unites States was produced on a large commercial scale, but was unaware that roughly half of the US square acreage was used for raising agriculture and livestock in ways that are utterly unsustainable!

Beyond the benefits of its application, I believe permaculture embodies a set of values and paradigms that will be essential in saving the planet. The film proposed that permaculture represents an ontological shift away from viewing the earth as being at human disposal, towards a greater responsibility for the earth’s maintenance. This is grounded by a more emphasized consideration of the long run over the short run, and a step away from more capitalistic priorities.

I think it would be fascinating to see a permaculture project at Duke, potentially even in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. It would send a message regarding Duke’s commitment to the environment, and show that beauty and function can go hand-in-hand. As of now, the Duke Gardens is maintained using practices that run in almost complete opposition to those of permaculture. As such, the gardens offer a compelling juxtaposition of practices and philosophy.

An aerial view of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens (taken from the @dukeuniversity Instagram)

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