Tag Archives: Perennials



an image of abundance

‘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!

Outrageously sumptuous, Copolla's Marie Antoinette

Outrageously sumptuous: Coppola’s Marie Antoinette

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.

Store your whole foods and preserves somewhere where you can see them. Celebrate 'abundance'!

Store your whole foods and preserves somewhere where you can see them. Celebrate ‘abundance’!

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…

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Filed under Doctoral Research, Earth Care, Food, Permaculture

Breaking crust

The farmhouse, Momavlis Mitsa

Saturday morning in Argokhi. There is work to be done: water butts to fill; pigs to feed; floors to sweep; tea to brew – but there’s no hurry. I sit on the steps cracking hazelnuts, listening to the sounds passing up and down the lane on the opposite side of the above-head-high metal fence. I hear ducks squawking, the lazy turning of cartwheels, neighbours fussing, the crank of the timber grape press, and the occasional sound of apples falling from the tree. It’s mid-autumn. Every warm day between now and Christmas is worth its weight in gold.

Working on Momavlis Mitsa (Future Earth) farm in Argokhi has ameliorated the discomfort of waiting for visas in Tbilisi. Instead of sitting like ghosts in some disembodying hostel, milking the wifi and kicking stones down Marjainishvili on the way to the Metro, we’re working outdoors, using our lungs and hands to lift things, fix things, bake things, grow things.

Creating new raised beds

Richie and Sam adding rotted compost to the soil

In the garden we’re asked to do things we’d never do at home, in our own garden: pull weeds, hoe earth, turn soil, plant monocultures and raise new beds without mulching them. I bite my lip as Inken, the 18-year-old longterm German volunteer, instructs me on how to break the ‘crust’ that has formed on the surface of the soil due to successive phases of watering and sunshine. We work the hoe forward while simultaneously walking backwards down the aisles. I wonder if I’m disturbing the roots of the small plants, and why there are no bugs or worms in the soil.

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Filed under Culture, Earth Care, Food, Permaculture, Philosophy, Travel