Friday, July 8, 2011

Permaculture Principles: Principle Three - Obtain a Yield

Holmgren's Twelve Principles of Permaculture

Principle Three: Obtain a Yield
Holmgren's Proverb for this Principle: You can't work on an empty stomach.

While it may be a nice concept to do something for nothing, that is almost unheard of.  Even donating anonymously to a charity leaves us feeling good that we helped.  In Permaculture, we are looking to obtain more tangible yields, although the intangibles make us feel pretty good, too.  

Principle Three (Obtain a Yield) dovetails nicely with the second part of Principle Two (Catch and Store Energy).  The yield that we take is typically in the form of stored energy.  Whether it is in the form of flower, fruit, wood, or fibre, the yield provides us with the ability to continue working, caring for ourselves, our family, and our land... which allows us to continue caring for ourselves, our family, and our land... it is a continuous cycle.  (I'll skip singing The Circle of Life if you don't mind :)  ).  Note that while this principle primarily refers to self-reliance, for some the yield may only be in beauty or time spend outdoors.

Remember, when we Obtain a Yield, we have to keep in mind principle four (Apply Self-Regulation) so that we do not over-harvest and break the cycle.  However, with some small scale, intensive systems, we have the ability to produce yields that are extremely large.  Bill Mollison, when discussing this concept, said, "The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited, or, limited only by the information and imagination of the designer."

"You can't work on an empty stomach" reminds us that with no yield, there is no sustaining ability (or sustainability) in our projects.

Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- David Holmgren

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