Permaculture is all about systems thinking. If you can grasp the system as a whole, the solutions local problems and inefficiencies will become self-evident. By fully understanding the problem, in a systems context, the solution will be provided to you.

A classic example comes to us from Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel’s book Farming the Woods. A food forest-type system had an issue where slugs were devastating the mushroom crops. Looking at this problem locally and not systematically, this is quite a problem, and one might turn to harmful chemicals to thwart the slugs. Thinking about the whole system, however, one realizes that they can bring in ducks (5, 6, 8, 10) who will eat the slugs, turning them into eggs while protecting the mushrooms and fertilizing the trees. The problem becomes the solution.

Another example is the presence of dandelions and other common “weeds” in the garden. People spend their lives trying to eradicate these plants, but to no avail. If they simply changed their outlook to see the numerous benefits and functions these plants have, then they would be welcomed into the garden with open arms, and the problem becomes the solution. Sometimes an attitude is all it takes.

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