Valuing the Marginal in Permaculture Garden Design

Permaculture is a growing/gardening philosophy that focuses on agriculturally productive ecosystems that are based on—and have the diversity, stability, and resilience of—natural ecosystems. When we talk about valuing the marginal in permaculture design, we are really talking about two closely related but distinct ideas. Both of these ideas can be important to consider when we are creating permaculture designs and embracing permaculture ideas and ideology in our everyday lives.

The first concept of valuing the marginal is to make use of edge and fringe spaces, or liminal spaces, within our designs. We should look to the boundaries of our property and also think about other spaces that are literally around the margins of a garden—growing upwards, perhaps, on walls and fences, and maybe even on the roofs as well as the upright portions of the framework of garden structures. On a smaller scale, we might also add window boxes and hanging containers to make the most of every inch of space at our disposal. And even when we do not have our own gardens, do all we can on a sunny windowsill.

The second concept of valuing the marginal is to look at what it means to value the marginal in a much broader context. Permaculture itself is an idea that, while definitely gaining in popularity, is still, in many areas, an unconventional concept. Like so many ideas and movements that are not necessarily considered mainstream, permaculture can teach us a lot about how best to live our lives. And many other marginal ideas can definitely do the same. It is important for each of us to step outside of our bubbles once in a while and to get a deeper sense of what others, different from the mainstream and perhaps very different from ourselves, are thinking. All too often, people see differences when we should be looking for commonalities and seeing the things that can draw us together, even when we do not always agree.

We need to value and embrace differences of all kinds while finding ways to connect our own lives with those of people who might see things in a different way. We sometimes need to look for the fish swimming against the current to see where the rest of us might be going wrong. Sometimes, we simply need to listen to those whose voices have not been heard loudest in the past. As gardeners, and in our wider lives, valuing the marginal can give us a new sense of perspective, insight, and wonder at the immense diversity around us and the joys and amazing things that diversity can bring.

Source: Treehugger

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