Permaculture began as ‘permanent agriculture’, a sustainable food production system based on ecological principles. Growing our own food is extremely good for us and there is an indisputable and ever-increasing body of research, which supports the health benefits of gardening: it can improve our health through stress relief, exercise, mental activity and better nutrition. Certain strains of a harmless soil-borne bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae have been found to stimulate the human immune system and boost the production of serotonin – a shortage of this mood-regulating brain chemical is associated with depression. Who would have thought that playing in the dirt could be so good for you?
Permaculture has grown to embrace more of the human experience than just food production, to become ‘permanent culture’. Despite the tendency of some to try to make it all things to all people, permaculture is essentially a system of ecological engineering.