Permaculture at a Time of Pandemic

Permaculture at a Time of Pandemic

Note: This letter from the editor was originally published in our weekly newsletter and is being republished here.

Hey guys,

It’s been a long time between newsletters and I hope the last few months have been kind to you. Since sending out the last newsletter in May, life has been anything but slow at HQ.

As lockdowns led to people losing their jobs in retail and hospitality, events going online, the travel industry grinding to a halt and physical restrictions affecting people’s mental health, at HQ we adjusted to pandemic life by making use of this time to plan, source second-hand materials and build necessary infrastructure, welcome friends and family to the farm and give them a chance to learn practical skills, be productive and connect with nature rather than sitting idle, playing video games or scrolling on social media (which many were doing in the confines of their small urban living spaces because, well there was nothing else better to do, we were told).

Now for those of you who follow on Instagram Stories know, we practice permaculture at HQ, a whole systems design approach to land use and ecological living that focuses on enhancing the relationships and connection of each part of the system. EWP is a part of the whole.

As a family, we assess sustainability theories and principles through the lens of pragmatism and workability given financial, emotional, physical and time constraints. We are all pitching in our skills, talents, gifts and strengths to build a lifestyle and farm community we imagine.

So why permaculture? It was a concept originally introduced to me by my father-in-law a decade ago. After devouring all his books on permaculture, I decided that the framework was particularly useful for land design and felt the overall philosophy sound. 

EWP editor-in-chief sits in her new terrace greenhouse.

For instance, the practice of permaculture is based on three ethics:

Care for Earth – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life and to ensure that all life systems are provided for. Examples: improving soil, conserving biodiversity and natural habitat, using clean energy etc.

Care for People – Supporting and helping each other to find ways to live in harmony with each other and the planet, ensure that others have access to necessary resources vital to their existence and working to develop healthy and resilient communities. Examples: access to public health and education, food sovereignty and nourishment, sustainable livelihoods etc.

Fair Share/Future care – Sharing Earth’s limited resources in equitable ways and returning surplus to Earth and people. Examples: rethinking capitalism and wealth distribution, cooperation etc.

During the pandemic, opening up our property gave us the chance to share our sustainable lifestyle philosophies with others. One area of permaculture I have found of particular interest is the ethic of Fair Share.

There is complexity in the relationships humans have with each other and that the kumbaya ‘we should love each other’ approach seems idealistic given how much hurt, pain, suffering that humans – even those who claim to love us – inflict on us. I also grew up in a Catholic household and attended church that preached that Jesus would want us to ‘love one another’ but all around me, from school to the workplace, it was obvious that this was easier said than done.

And applying the Fair Share ethic on an organic farm property like ours, we worked hard to save our cash, took the risk, purchased the machinery, learned how to use it, set it all up, set aside time to plan, to build, to strategise further projects (on the farm and at EWP), the issue of Fair Share becomes even more complicated. Particularly for me as my parents immigrated to Australia and had little to begin with, and that I also have many relatives back in the Motherland who have very little by way of food and financial security and whom I feel a responsibility to help. The concept of ‘fair sharing’ seems far more palatable with people who are family, and people who are of material need; but it starts getting harder to apply to everyone in your circle of influence, particularly if they have more than you in terms of wealth and privilege. As someone who has been exploited (brands trying to manipulate my good intentions for free promotions, and I have also lost count of how many times our work has been republished on other websites without my permission) I think it’s only reasonable to question in these situations: How is this fair?

Anyway, Eco Warrior Princess celebrated its 10th birthday last month while we were in the midst of hosting others on the farm, building the new greenhouse and another outbuilding. It’s when I realised that the next 10 years will be about building not just an online community, but a physical one as well.

So I can’t wait to share more about the projects we’re working on as they unfold, and if you’re on Insta, check out my personal account here if you’re interested in following how our permaculture journey unfolds.


Quote I’m Loving This Week:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, My friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” – Sonya Renee Taylor

Popular articles from our archives this week:

That’s me done for now. Thanks for taking the time to read this rather lengthy editor’s note. Catch you all next week and hope you have a wonderfully relaxing weekend!

Peace, love and all that jazz,

Editor-in-Chief Jen xx

Cover image of EWP founding editor in her new greenhouse. Photographer: Ben McGuire.

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