About Podcast Join the Commons Login

Episode 003: Permaculture Beyond the Farm with Shelly Immel

Uncategorized Sep 11, 2019

Applying the Twelve Permaculture Principles

On today’s podcast, we invite our very first guest to be interviewed! Shelly Immel is a fantastic example of a permie applying the twelve permaculture principles to every aspect of her life, whether that is involving only herself, or in her business. As we touched on in the previous podcast, the first area to begin applying permaculture to is your personal life, before expanding out to your home and community. Definitely listen to the episode - Shelly is a wealth of knowledge and experience. In this post, we will discuss some examples of applying the twelve permaculture principles to your life, especially in regards to mindset. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s merely an exercise so that you can start broadening your thoughts and start seeing opportunities for further application of permaculture into your life, and therefore the harmony and order that comes with it.

Observe and Interact

The first permaculture principle is to Observe and Interact. One definite place we can involve this is with our listening skills. Listening is a skill, not simply hearing what someone is saying but feeling the emotion they are giving off, really understanding where they are coming from, and on the next level - reading their body language so that you can see the whole picture of the conversation you are having with that person. It is amazing the difference these tools make as you build your listening skills, and the greater ability you will have to relate with and communicate with that person. 

Catch and Store Energy

The second principle is to Catch and Store Energy. Among many methods, one overwhelmingly frequent thing that everyone does in this arena is eating. The food that we eat took energy to make, and as our bodies break it down the energy is transferred into our bodies. However, in this situation, not all energy is created equal. The more natural energy put into food, the better the quality of energy we will reap from it. We all know that the foods we choose to eat affect us in many ways, but it is so important to realize that the food we consume can change our mindset due to the complex series of chemical reactions we are made up of. Food that is full of things like sugar, preservatives, or ingredients that our body doesn’t handle efficiently affects our hormones and pH level, which many people don’t even consider. The combination of pH and hormone levels drastically changes our ability to produce chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin and can inhibit our ability to focus, work rigorously, and maintain energy among other side effects. Quality of energy we receive from food and store is of insurmountable importance when it comes to our health and mindset.

Obtain a Yield

Third, Obtain a Yield. Yield can be thought of as a surplus or increase. We are not meant to be stagnant bodies wandering aimlessly around this planet. For us to really live and thrive, there must be progress, there must be an increase. Oftentimes we get stuck focused on a problem at hand, or settle with the status quo and stop moving forward- but efficient goal-setting and followthrough are amazing at keeping our mind growing, and us moving forward. Always have at least one goal you are working on, but even better, have a goal for all major aspects of your life- wealth, health, relationships, success/accomplishment and so on. Setting and achieving goals in these areas will give you the feeling and proof of your positive momentum forward.

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback is the fourth principle and in my mind, really lends to diet. It is so important to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies and how our body responds to that food. The same principle could be applied to exercise as well, we should monitor and strategically plan our exercise, and be aware of how that is affecting our body and our mindset. 

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

Next up is Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services. The simple correlation might be renewable energy resources like solar, wind, or hydropower, but when applied to ourselves these renewable energy sources may take the form of things that renew us in mind and body such as recreation, exercise, meditation, yoga, spiritual practices, or pure, clean water. Think about what renews your spirit and mind, and hold onto that as your personal renewable resource.

Produce No Waste

The sixth principle is Produce No Waste. As permies, we love projects and moving things forward. But sometimes our time is spent doing things that aren’t actually moving the goals we have forward. Unfocused actions lead to a lot of wasted time and effort. Having a good system of thought and goal organization in a project management system helps us move forward our goals, with a lot less wasted resources, and in turn, we move forward with more conviction, purpose, and direction.

Design From Patterns and Integrate Rather Than Segregate

The seventh and eighth principle, Design From Patterns and Integrate Rather Than Segregate are exclusively mentioned in the podcast episode, so make sure to check that out- Shelly’s comparison with the choice to integrate into a social environment is really interesting and makes you think about how we are all connected.

Use Small and Slow Solutions

Number nine takes us to Use Small and Slow Solutions. Habit training is a great example of this. The only way to acquire a new habit is to integrate it one day at a time, repeatedly. The research argues 21 days as the magic breaking point when the action turns into habit. Examining our habits and evaluating which habits we would like to develop or shed helps us to change our mindset in the direction that we desire. If we want to maintain a more positive mindset, we can include things in a morning routine such as declarations, a vision board, or visualization, and can be small, slow changes that once turned into a habit, create a powerful change in mindset that was relatively easy to incorporate. No matter what part of ourselves we are trying to improve, principle number nine is wise counsel.

Use and Value Diversity

Principle ten is Use and Value Diversity. Shelly brings up in the podcast how this is so important in a marriage, as well as society at large. I have tried to teach this to my kids many times as kids constantly find themselves comparing themselves to others (but really we all do that, right?). I have related to them if all the cells in our bodies made ears, we would just be a pile of ears. We wouldn’t be able to eat or see or move, or even think. Diversity doesn’t mean it is easy to get along, in fact, it oftentimes makes things much harder, but there is a beauty in diversity if we can release our tendency to compare and truly appreciate the different strengths and knowledge everyone is coming to the table with. Beautiful things are created when diversity is cherished and flourishes.

Use Edges and Value the Marginal

The eleventh principle is to Use Edges and Value the Marginal. Oftentimes we don’t set enough edges within our minds. If we are constantly seeking to bring things in, the good and the bad will come, which isn’t for the best. It takes some reflection, but when we really ponder on the things that we want in our lives and don’t want in our life- creating the margin in our mind, we are able to only allow the positive in. Not to say that just because we are thinking positively someone close to us won’t die, or we won’t suffer from health problems, or poverty in the world will disappear - but rather we will be able to stay in a positive, present place and not dwell in the external distress we may be facing. This is when our minds become untouchable - we are able to dismiss the negative, separate ourselves from the negative emotion and deal with the problem at hand out of rational thought rather than impulse and truly work through the problem and move on. There is amazing power in this.

Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Lastly, we come to the twelfth permaculture principle, Creatively Use and Respond to Change. This is where the power of staying present comes back into play. When we are able to stay present, we don’t dwell in the past (depression) or the future (anxiety), and are able to free ourselves of those bonds which will allow us to be flexible to the changes that occur around us, and objectively see how to thrive in our new situation. 


There you have it- can you see how these permaculture principles are so very relevant to our personal life and mindset? I am not saying that these are the specific ways they must be applied, just like any piece of unique landscape, everyone’s situation is different, but the principles can be applied in their own way to create positive change, order, and harmony. Make sure to listen to the episode with Shelly, she is such an amazing example of someone who really embraces permaculture in all aspects of her life, and uses the principles in her own growth and progress.

P.S. Don't forget to join the conversation on the Community and let us know your thoughts on how you've applied permaculture principles into your personal life. 

Previous Episode: The Permaculture Compass

Next Episode: What is Your Single Biggest Challenge When it Comes to Sustainability?




50% Complete

Almost There!

After subscribing here make sure you check your email and confirm that you really want to be a part of the amazingness coming to your inbox weekly as each podcast goes live.