Thursday, August 20, 2009

Got To Find A Way...

Thirty years ago San Francisco writer Anne Herbert wrote that God kicked us out of the Garden because we started keeping score.

About the same time, biological polymath Gregory Bateson said what happened was that Adam and Eve were so full of themselves, because they’d managed to pick the forbidden apple, that they kicked God out of the garden.

Maybe one is a different way of saying the other. Adam and Eve made nature’s purposes subordinate to their own. Scorekeeping amounts to subordinating nature (play) to our vanity. I most definitely keep score, but I’m trying to break the habit, invite God back into the garden. Permaculture is my method, learning to provide for myself in a way that mimics -- and integrates with -- the rest of the biological world.

This is a picture of a young grape vine (given to me, variety forgotten) trellised on the Beacon apple tree. The physical closeness of the two plants isn’t part of a deep ecological relationship. The grape gets a place to hang out, but I can't think of what the apple gets from the grape. In fact, the grape doesn’t naturally grip the slick apple bark, and needs me to tie it up. A defense against vines, maybe, evolved by apple trees? Permaculturalists say that growing food in “guilds,” combinations of plants that do things for each other, yields less per plant but more per acre than monocrops.

Maybe a grape trellised on an apple is getting close to the critique that permaculture is an attempt to mimic climax ecosystems, systems at a stage when they don’t yield a lot of food. I don’t know. You can’t learn less.

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