A farm is a complex entity with many activities and stakeholders.
It has helped us to gleam from Holistic Management (HM) to visualize the major relationships involved in the farm— the land, the community and the farmer. HM helps us clarify the long-term success of our farm from the vantage of what is needed: our well-being as farmers, the land’s health that is able to sustain our production, and the community that we feed and who support our endeavours.
In order to find balance on Kula Permaculture Farm we employ a strategy of Guild Enterprise Production (GEP) — a harmonization of three businesess that share resources, balance labour and maximize resilience in the face of socio-economic and environmental change. Through this approach a farm is able to diversify its production while emphasizing limits on diversity in order to manage for success. The do-everything permaculture farm is exhausting, and we have learned that it is more beneficial to cooperate with like-minded farms and homesteads to enhance community than overextend ourselves. Kula’s GEP entails a market garden, heirloom seed garlic production and research and education, including our workshops, consulting, yoga and kid’s camps.
We have a Holistic Goal which anchors us in our decision-making and serves as a sounding board for new ideas. You cannot get where you want to go unless you plan to get there- a Holistic Goal is a clear statement of purpose that constantly reroutes us and prevents us from taking too many detours from our path towards our goals.
It is the Japanese concept of Ikigai that most resonates with us as a means of finding our ideal path in life. Ikigai ensure that you farm the farm instead of farm farming you. This concept describes the individual’s journey to balance: what you are good at, what the world needs, what you can be paid for and what you love to do. When you are working towards this balance it is easier to write a holistic goal and begin the process of whole farm planning.
As part of our design process we generate whole farm maps. These are often a very simple and effective demarcation of resource ecologies, micro-climates and major natural flows present on a farm— resulting in an understanding of a property’s natural reality so you can build an agro-ecological approach to farming.
We employ excel mapping techniques and sketch software, as well as pen and pad to generate our maps. The importance is not how you make your maps, but that you generate an initial map of your property and environment - a base map to copy for observational maps. These are used to make observations throughout the seasons to familiarize yourself with the land. This allows you to mark snow drifts, water pooling, and soil infertility.
Seasonal observation can be employed on a property scale as Whole Farm Mapping and within the garden as Garden Environment Mapping. With the Permabed System, as described in The Permaculture Market Garden, it is possible to map each bed and plot and better understand its soil, hydrology and ecology because the beds are permanent and are not destroyed, but only reformed.