Components of a Permaculture Guild
A permaculture guild mimics natural ecosystems that feature multiple layers of vegetation and utilize different species of animals and microorganisms to support and benefit the entire whole. In a forest or other natural system, different layers of vegetation, as well as multiple species of plants and animals exist together in a symbiotic relationship that helps the entire system to survive and thrive. A permaculture guild simply uses the design principles that work for these natural systems in order to provide for human needs for shelter, food, fuel and other material and non material needs. In order for these guilds to be effective however, they must constitute several important components;
1. Human Food
The ultimate function of a permaculture guild is to produce diverse plants that can supply food for humans. Growing your own food in a guild ensures that you get all your nutritional needs met at a cost of the fraction of modern agriculture and with little to no detrimental effects on the environment.
2. Nutrient Accumulation for the soil
Even as humans benefit from permaculture needs, they need to consider putting back into the soil nutrients that will help it continue to produce at optimal levels. One of the best ways to do this is by planting nitrogen fixing species such as legumes and also by adding organic composts to enrich the soil for even better food production.
3. Dynamic Accumulators
An effective permaculture guild employ the use of plants with long taproots in order to extract nutrients that are placed deep in the soil and bring them up to the surface where they can be used by the plants in the system. Deep rooted plants also break up the soil and allow for better absorption of water and air.
Nature makes use of climbing plants that reach for sunlight to facilitate photosynthesis and ensure that plants make enough chlorophyll and other resources needed for optimal food production.
Supporters are sturdy plants like trees, shrubs and bushes that provide surfaces for climbers and their products such as fruits and seed pods. Supporters need to be quite strong otherwise the weight of climbers will bring them down or overwhelm them.
Groundcover protects the soil, helps it to retain moisture, keep weeds down and decomposes into compost that increases the fertility of soil.
Protectors repel insects and even larger animals such as squirrels, moles and other harmful animals. They include strong smelling plants such as onions, chives and lemongrass, as well as deterrents such as thorns and sticks with sharp points.
Integrating all the various components of a permaculture guild will ensure that the system performs optimally and provides you with as much food and other products as you need to meet your material needs. Courses are available at the Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute to help you learn more about the components of permaculture guilds and how to put them together in an effective and workable system.