IPD in a time of pandemic
Story by Russ Grayson, Tasmania, Australia, December 2020
We can enact permaculture’s second ethic of Care of People when planning and running our IPD by observing the recommendations of health authorities in our country, about numbers at events, social distancing and wearing masks.
As it does with almost everything else, the global Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on International Permaculture Day 2020. Events could not be held because of restrictions on public gatherings as well as number limits at gatherings. Some places locked down completely, keeping people other than essential workers at home.
I’m writing from Australia where lockdowns and the social solidarity shown by people in keeping the recommended social distance, and in the state of Victoria, in wearing masks during the worse of the pandemic, worked. There are now only occasional outbreaks of infection resulting in regional shutdowns until infection is brought under control. Contact tracing by Australian health authorities and the isolation of infected people limits the spread of Covid. Lockdown and social distancing also worked in New Zealand.
How the pandemic affected permaculture in Australia
The pandemic affected the practice of permaculture in Australia. It triggered the cancellation of the Australasian Permaculture Convergence planned for our Autumn 2020. The convergence was postponed until 2021 in Brisbane.
Another effect was an upswing in home garden food production, so much so that supplies of vegetable seed, especially non-hybrid seeds, were unobtainable for a time. Seed companies limited the number of packets that could be ordered and others stopped supplying until back orders were fulfilled. This exposed a supply vulnerability within permaculture.
The lockdowns were behind the reported boom in home growing, with people restricted to their homes having the time to start a vegetable garden. Fears over the security of the food supply also contributed, likely stimulated by the supermarkets limiting the number of some food lines that could be purchased, such as flour and pasta.
- highlighted the time-wasting of commuting for those with a broadband connection who found they could work from home
- stimulated internet-based schooling
- stimulated mutual support as people assisted those who could not go out to buy their food or who needed assistance
- stimulated a flow of practical ideas and supportive messages through permaculture and other social media
- highlighted the need for reliable, fact-based information based in scientific understanding
- highlighted the importance of digital communications and systems in copying with crises and for post-pandemic work, education and social life
- brought to permaculture a taste of its utility value during crises.
Permaculture organisations like Permaculture Australia and Permaculture Sydney reported an upsurge in people joining their social media feeds, suggesting that reliable sources of factual information and news of how people were dealing with the restrictions introduced to cope with the pandemic and the restrictions introduced to limit its spread were in demand.
Initiatives in Australia
- Permaculture Australia members produced facemasks.
- Milkwood Permaculture wrote a blog — Preparing for a Pandemic: a Permaculture Perspective
- Good Life Permaculture produced a series of videos — Crisis Gardening.
What of convergences now?
International Permaculture Convergence — postponed
The International Permaculture Convergence to be held in Argentina has been postposed to November-December 2021.
UK Permaculture Convergence 2020 — online
In the UK, UIK permaculture ran their first online permaculture convergence from 16 to 18 October 2020.
Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence 2020 — online
The 2020 Mid-Atlantic Permaculture Convergence was “a collaborative virtual conference that brought together land stewards, dreamers, farmers, activists, educators and organizers, to envision a bioregional permaculture movement that represents the diversity of the Mid-Atlantic, honors traditional knowledge and lifeways, and enables deep collaboration between people, land, and organizations in this region.”
Northwest Permaculture Convergence 2020 — online
“2020 is a year for Cultivating Community! To do this best they envisaged small workshops being hosted across the region, with a digital home-base to keep them all connected. They followed their traditional schedule of Thursday night to Sunday night, live-streaming opening and closing circles, keynotes and all workshops.”
4th Philippine Permaculture Convergence 2020 — online
“After almost a year of negative news about the pandemic and super typhoons, let us talk about something positive. Prepare to be inspired by our speakers who will plant seeds of hope that we can break free from plastics and build resilient, yet economically viable spaces. Philippine Permaculture Convergence is back on its 4th year with the theme, PERMAKULTURA: Pagtatalaga ng mas Mas Mahusay na Kagagawian which emphasizes the role of permaculture in creating a better normal.”
Let’s share our experience
It would be useful to learn about how permaculture people where you live are coping with the pandemic. The information may be useful to others, information such as:
- how have households practicing a permaculture way of life made use of permaculture ideas during the pandemic?
- has there been an increase in home food production during the pandemic?
- how have permaculture organisations responded to the pandemic?
- how have permaculture online sites and social media responded?
- what barriers have you encountered?
- what new approaches or advantages has the pandemic brought in implementing permaculture ideas?
- what would you do next time humanity faces a similar crisis?
Sharing how the pandemic has affected us and our organisations, the limitations it has brought and what we have found that works during the pandemic would be useful to all of us. Share in the comments below.