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Permaculture in Europe VS. USA

Dem Charles


Joined: Mar 10, 2010
Posts: 5
Hi everyone!
Im interested in getting a better understanding on how permaculture and related movements are shaping up in Western Europe in comparison to the US.
What are the different issues facing these two regions in sustainability?
Are Europeans more open and prone to permaculture over Americans? It seems there are these pockets in Europe where a lot is being done, such as the UK, Bulgaria, and even Portugal but some other countries such as Germany and France aren't really as active. Am I correct in assuming this? And what makes one country more prone to participating in permaculture over another? Is it economic or political affiliation?

I'd love some insight into this!!!
Thank you!
                                      


Joined: Jan 01, 2010
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
    
    1
hi christamone,

I live in the Netherlands, permaculture had a slow start here but by now is gaining, especially because of the transition town movement which is based on permaculture and evolved from a permaculture design school in Ireland.

Social, political and economic factors probably all have an influence on the development of permaculture in a country. Also very important is how much gardening/growing food on small scale is embedded in a culture. I guess in England almost everybody used to do a bit of gardening, even if just in an old shoe.

Portugal and Bulgaria also have a widespread gardening culture. The Netherlands however are very densely populated. Almost all of the land has become an agglomeration of cities connected by suburbs. and then i don't mean US type suburbs with big houses and gardens, i mean densely built neighborhoods with little green and if u have a garden even, its small.

The Netherlands where one of the first countries worldwide that stopped getting their produce from their own land but importing most of it, we've been dependant on international trade for so long. The production of our food and other products has been so totally externalized, it is so far away, and we've lost any understanding of it.

those things don't help. but things are starting to develop.

the main difference i can make out from hanging around on this and other international forums is that in Europe the mainstream permaculturists are (so to speak with Paul Wheaton) 'holmgrenesque' and in the States its more Sepp Holzer permaculture (or that might just be the tendency of this site).

In Europe for example, things like a possible energy crisis, oil depletion and climate change are subjects discussed at a lot of pdc's. Also i seem to find little on urban and small scale permaculture from US sources, while in Europe where land is extremely expensive, big permaculture sites are a bit rare (although there are some great places in Spain and Portugal).


land and liberty at s.w.o.m.p.
www. swompenglish.wordpress.com
Kirk Hutchison


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I notice that American permaculture tends to be more open-space like, and permaculture in the U.K. tends strongly towards forest gardens. We yanks just can't give up our corn on the cob =).


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Douglas Crouch


Joined: Feb 07, 2010
Posts: 33
Hello, I have worked and lived in both the states and in Western Europe working as a permaculturist.  There are similarities between the two because on the grand context every society has different niches within.  That means you can find urban applications, village applications, broad acre applications, people doing it and not even knowing the word permaculture.  In the states it seems to have been brought to the University level more frequently.  i work for two in the states but I only know of one agronomy school in Portugal that has explored the idea of Permaculture. 
Permaculture is an Anglo thing as my French girlfriend puts it.  This is why it works in the UK, Spain, Portugal but not so much France.  France has a great movement that is similar called Agro-ecology headed up by Pierre Rahbi.  Its similar from what I have seen and heard from my girlfriend who has studied a bit of both.  Thats the French, slightly different, not bad, just different. 
I work in Portugal quite a bit and am apart of Projects small and big there which is true for the states as well.  The idea of Edible Landscaping is probably a bigger market in the states at this point as well.  There is more infrastructure in place for this there and as well in Britain.  That means nurseries that have collected productive plants from all over the world.  Portugal is way behind on this but with about a 5,000 Euro plant investment from the Agrofrestry research center of Britain we will be just fine.  Its probably going to happen this winter or in stages over the next few winters. 
One common thing about the west is this- we still have a choice of how radical we want to be with Sustainability.  I teach a lot of young folks around the same age as me, under 30, who still have the luxury of deciding will I take a more agrarian lifestyle.    Its up to the first worlders to set the example for the rest of the world on sustainability.  Trust me I spent a lot of time in the developing world as well.  As an American that has spent time in Europe, overall I think the movement is more advanced in the states.  However I haven't spent much time in the UK.  People often just think of America as this country of big, fat stupid people but that is the joy of the states, there is so much diversity and opportunity for new ideas.  It really is a great place but I choose to spend more time in Europe if that says anything. 
I hope this helps and feel free to email me with more discussion.  cdoug_e@hotmail.com
 
 
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