Permaculture Principle 10 – Use & Value Diversity

Diversity is nature’s way of building resilience and ensuring that all of its creatures have an abundance of what they require to keep them healthy and continue the cycle of life. Each plant and creature has its place and task in the web of life and if one is missing the system is weaker for it. This principle really highlights the largest change that has been made by humans in the last 50 years we have moved from a variety of different plants to monocultures. By doing so we have lost a huge amount of our heirloom seeds & trees, had an increased weed and pest burden which has led us to increased spraying of chemicals. All of this, in turn, has impacted our health as we find our food, air, and water polluted by also sorts of chemicals that interfere with the healthy working of our body’s own systems.

Regenerative pasture managers now tell us that a healthy pasture should include at least 80 species of plants. This not only makes the animals healthier through having access to different plants with different vitamins and minerals but it means that when one type of plant is not available for grazing there is another. This is particularly important in times of drought, more and varied plant cover also ensures improved absorption and retention of water. Even in the world of monocropping farmers are now planting hedgerows with different plants to attract the insects that prey on the other insects that are plaguing the crops. This has yielded some amazing results allowing for less chemical use.

For the home vegetable gardener, interspersing vegetables with plants such as Cosmos, Marigolds and Queen Anne’s Lace attracts what people term the ‘good bugs’ that devour the ‘bad bugs’. Planting strong-smelling or scented plants such as Thai Basil or even Stinking Roger confuses the ‘bad bug’ who then cannot find your prize cabbage or tomato. Diversity also ensures that your soil is getting a variety of different vitamins and minerals which in turn feed the plants making them healthy and strong.

Nowhere in nature do we find monocultures, there is always a diverse number of plants, insects, and animals in a landscape that is thriving.

The same principle applies to people and communities. A person who has more than one income stream finds themselves less at risk when it comes to their livelihood and a community that has people with a diversity of skills also finds themselves in a more resilient position.

The wisdom of diversity is everywhere. It is nature’s way of ensuring a stable and life-giving environment.

Mel Marx | Secretary

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