Toby Hemenway is a teacher, consultant and lecturer on permaculture and ecological design. Toby is also a professor at Portland State University, a Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and a biologist consultant for the Biomimicry Guild. In this lecture Toby explains how Agriculture has not actually helped mankind but instead has hindered our progress as well as causing a negative impact on our Earth. Agriculture destroys our eco system by wiping away the lusciousness of our land and forests by depleting nutrients and destroying the topsoil by over growing huge amounts of food in designated areas. The land then requires massive amounts of fertilizer which now comes mainly from petroleum based products.
Hemenway shows that since the introduction of agriculture the human life span has decreased while degenerative diseases and even famines have increased. People are just less healthy than pre agriculture time. Since the introduction of agriculture eating cooked foods has increased causing babies to be weaned from their mothers sooner which allows them to become pregnant again sooner since they are no longer nursing. This explains the higher population in agriculture times that requires even more food to be grown to feed them all.
Toby says the Solution to the problems caused by agriculture is Permaculture, which is horticulture. Permaculture creates a horticultural society which is sustainable. This means small-scale gardens of mixed crops not farms, and hoes versus plows. While agriculture destroys land and cuts back forests, horticulture and permaculture encourages ecosystems to function. They require a lot less labor, encourage wildlife to thrive, and Toby has also noticed a more spiritual approach that honors the Earth with horticulture versus conventional agriculture that, from the Earth’s perspective, could be characterized as a much more “greedy” approach.
Toby’s Key Permaculture Advantages over Agriculture:
● Permaculture encourages ecosystems to function and supports the health of land and forests
● Permaculture decreases degenerative diseases and epidemics
● Human Lifespan decreases when going from Permaculture to Agriculture
● Agriculture requires much more labor than Permaculture
● “Agriculture will destroy humanity while Permaculture will save it”
Toby believes that if we keep doing what we have been doing we dont have even a century left before we destroy ourselves. Horticulturists on the other hand have a long track record and can be sustainable. Permaculture works with nature not against it and even turns waste into beautiful gardens. Toby ends the talk by giving examples of many horticultural tribes that lived and prospered for thousands of years before being wiped out by agriculture.