‘Abundance’ is a hallowed concept in permaculture. Abundance is what we permaculturalists aim for: abundant, multifarious yields of fruits, nuts, herbs, medicines, fibres… all things useful and edible.
The way I see it abundance is nature’s reward for careful, insightful design work. I like abundance. As a form of feedback it tells us we’re doing something right. In my mind the word ‘abundance’ conjures up the world of Sofia Coppola’s gorgeously realised period-extravaganza: Marie Antoinette. The costumes, designs and settings in this film reek of opulence. They’re sumptuous. Abundant!
What am I responding to when I respond to the idea of ‘abundance’? Is it something sexy? Something related to fecundity? Excess? Who wouldn’t prefer to lay eyes on a tray mounded with macaroons rather than a tray with just one or two macaroons swimming in vast empty space?
The fact is humans respond (through their eyes and then their brains) to abundance. No denying it. It’s why nutritionists urge people to store their wholefoods (nuts, seeds, pulses, dried fruits) in glass jars in prominent places in their kitchens – so the produce can be seen. Apparently the mind is attuned to abundance. When we see abundant food-stores we feel happy, assured, comforted: starvation seems a far-off possibility.
To me, abundance is a principle exemplified by plants. Plants give abundantly. If you don’t believe me, look how many seeds reside inside a single tomato or how many mangos a mature tree produces in one season. Loads!
Sure, plants aren’t always abundant in terms of the yields they offer. There are bad years when not enough rain/too much rain/not enough sun/too much sun/sun at the wrong time/rain at the wrong time means poor yields and as a result, scarcity.
Yes, scarcity. That hideous word bandied about by scaremongering politicians and capitalists with a view to convincing us ‘There’s not enough stuff out there for all of us.’ And that, ‘We need to beg, borrow, steal more, More, MORE, MORE.’
Me? I’m not buying it.
Why? Because I believe in abundance. And not just believe. I know it exists and that it is something we can all, realistically, aspire to.
Here’s how I know…