Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles. I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time. March – Efficient energy planning
It was hard to find an image that demonstrates the principle of ‘efficient energy planning’! I finally settled on this one, of the abundant fresh produce harvested from my garden one day in August, and here is why… Years ago we used to have an allotment. It was about a mile from our house, so we used to walk or cycle there which took 30 mins at least. We began by spending whole weekends tending our plot. After a while we started renovating our house and this squeezed our available time to devote to the allotment. A few more years passed and we had our first child, by this point our free time to spend on the plot was minimal and by the time we had travelled there our daughter was fed up of being in her pushchair and needing our attention. So the allotment got more and more neglected and eventually we gave it up.
Soon after that we moved house to our current home with a huge south-facing garden. We now grow our fruit and veg in the garden, so we have only to step outside the back door to tend to our plants. We now have three children so there would be no way we could make the two mile round trip and devote the time required to the upkeep of an allotment, but by growing our food where we spend all our time, the garden gets attention little and often, And the results are wonderful! This demonstrates the importance of efficient energy planning in terms of Zoning, placing items used most often, closest to your home. The purpose of this is to minimise wasted energy in your system.
Zoning is a conceptional design tool used for managing our own energies. Radiating out from the centre are zones one to five. Zone 00 is the self at the centre. On a land based design, elements that are in need of the most attention are placed nearer to the home and yourself than those that require less frequent attention. L. Macnamara. People and Permaculture 2012
Efficient energy planning is all about three things: zones, sectors, and slope. Using these three categories, you can set up your homestead so that you will need to use the least energy possible. This means energy from people and energy in other forms such as wind or water. In order to get the most accomplished in the least amount of time, increasing efficiency you should follow these ideas. New England Permaculture Homestead blog www.nepermhome.wordpress.com
We make every effort to put in structures that will produce or conserve energy, rather than structures that will continuously consume energy. Our aim is to catch, store and use energy before it is lost from the system. Ross and Jenny Mars. Getting Started in Permaculture 1994
1. Putting items needing to go upstairs into a basket placed on the bottom step and carrying them all up in one go at the end of the day rather than making multiple trips up and down the stairs throughout the day.
2. Storing water close to where it is needed, ideally at the top elevation of your site so that it can be moved with minimal effort using gravity.
3. Planting your herbs just outside the backdoor, so you can easily grab a handful while cooking dinner, ideally without even needing to put on your shoes!
I knew that this month would be a hectic one for me, as I am embarking on a number of different training courses and projects that are demanding of my time. So in order to efficiently plan my energy, I decided to get a leg-up on this challenge by completing it a few weeks ago. I wanted to look at my Permaculture Diploma in terms of Zoning and ensure that I had a good handle on what my diploma designs were going to be and how they fitted into the zones of my life. The diagram below shows zones in my life and ideas for related designs slotted into the relevant zone. This can help me decide which designs to prioritise by indicating how closely they are related to the centre of my life, my Zone 00.