Permaculture & life at Hagabrekka

'Discovering the path of regenerative living'

I am sure you have you heard about permaculture, but do you really know what it is? It's a whole philosophy, all about working with nature, not against it. Think of it as the ultimate collaboration between humans and Mother Earth. By mimicking natural ecosystems, we can create sustainable and regenerative systems that benefit both the environment and ourselves. It can be applied to all aspects of your existence. It isn't just about how to grow food, it's a whole lifestyle and an important part of regenerative living. It's about thinking outside the box and looking towards nature to find creative sustainable solutions to everyday problems. It's about reducing waste, conserving resources, and living in harmony with the environment. Don't worry, you don't need a green thumb or a fancy degree in environmental science to get into permaculture. Start small, maybe with a little herb garden, companion planting, DIY natural cleaning products, a small rainwater harvest, investing in a couple of solar panels or starting a compost bin. The key is to observe, adapt, and experiment. It is essential in the way we are living that we are pursuing to live WITH nature, not off nature.


So, using the principles of permaculture as guidelines can be helpful for you to understand how you can start inviting the life philosophy into your everyday living, and you will get an idea of the way of living at Hagabrekka as well. We are giving some examples on how the different principles are working in our property, but remember that it can be applied to your living situation anywhere in the world, city or countryside alike.

1. Observe and interact. For you to understand the life of the nature around you, it is essential to use time to observe. The first year we spent at Hagabrekka, we did not do much gardening as we were waiting to see how the nature is flowing around us. This enabled us to locate the area with lots of wildflowers, so we could keep this space untouched for the bees. We could see which areas has the most sun or shade, where there is more water in the ground, how the wind is hitting the property, wild herbs growing, and much more. This is a continuous process, seeing where one crop is happy or not. Instead of trying to make the circumstances fit the crop by changing it, we will find a different area on the property where the crop can fit into the circumstances. We are never trying to change nature, but letting the observation of nature teach us how to work with it.

2. Catch and store energy. Energy is a resource that the human society is heavily depending on. For us to live in this fresh air with flourishing nature we need to use renewable energy resources. We are only using solar power for the electricity, but energy is not limited only to electricity. We gather firewood for heat, and we are drying and saving it for cold times, this is another way of storing energy. The food that we dry and store or preserve in other ways is another form of energy that our bodies will take advantage of at a later point. The seeds we harvest at the end of the life of a crop is again dried and stored, to be used again in the next season, and so on. 

3. Obtain a yield. Obtaining a yield means to generate benefits for you and your surroundings through the efforts you are putting out. In other words, we want to create little by little abundance not only for ourselves, but also so it can benefit more people. We need to put our efforts where it will benefit us in some way, it does not necessarily mean growing our vegetables (even though that is essential), it can also be doing your yoga practice to increase your mindfulness on how to interact with the world around you. Share your knowledge and connect to people. Maybe focus your energy on gardening or wild harvest, connecting to nature instead of following the capitalist consumer society of mass purchasing. We are not only growing vegetables to sustain ourselves, but also to be able to receive people from all over the world to experience living closer to nature, aiming to share our knowledge to anyone interested. You have immense energy that can be used to cultivate happiness for yourself, people around you and the planet.

4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback. Accepting feedback is often difficult if it is not agreeing with what you think you need. Looking at the planet as a whole, it is an example of the main population not accepting feedback. In spite of increasing scientific evidence of environmental degradation, climate change, extinction of species etc. people are not changing their consumption and habits. The planet itself is an organism that will self-regulate if we let it. We only have to avoid overconsumption, draining resources and be more mindful on how we are living. We want to contribute to positive change, if you have the opportunity, it is a privilege to be able to live with the nature around you, contributing to awareness on simple steps on how to live more sustainable and let the surrounding nature thrive. Looking at this principle in a smaller scale, we have to continuously see what is happening on the property, what is working for us in coherence with nature.

5. Use & value renewable resources & services. Make the most of every renewable resource and service to reduce consumption. This means to move away from the excessive overuse of resources and trying to control nature. Let nature takes is course with the abundance that nature provides, IF we remember to not overuse. Reduction in consumption is essential in this crazy materialistic consumer society that capitalism has created. We do not need to purchase anything new, as pretty much everything is available second hand and can be reused (refurbished). Composting and using every part of whatever we cut down on the property is one part of this. For example, when we cut down a tree, it will only be done if we really need that space and/or the wood has a purpose. After cutting down a tree we will use the big trunk for construction, the medium branches for smaller constructions (like the fence on the platforms) and the even smaller parts will be shredded and used in the compost toilet, which eventually will become an important ‘fuel’ for our vegetables. The cut of part of the big trunk will be used in our seating area or be cut into firewood (storing heat energy for colder times). Another cycle is the use of water, we minimize our use as much as possible, collect rainwater and reuse our dishwater etc. for our garden.

6. Produce no waste. By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste. Composting both our food scraps and our poop we are taking use of and valuing all parts of the cycle of food, creating a circle. Other easy examples to integrate into your daily life is to never use plastics when going grocery shopping, buy local produce without packaging and always purchase second hand when you need something. When we started our place, there was a number of things that we needed to get going. For our accommodation we needed a total of 14 beds (now even more)! All the beds we have was easy to find second hand, remember that someone’s trash can be another’s treasure. Our awesome drinking glasses are from jarred foods, and our water bottles are old wine bottles. Most of the chill areas are made with things we have found on the junkyard and we have restored/upcycled ut. Try to repair/reuse what you have instead of getting more stuff. If your pants get a hole, just stitch it back together. Sometimes an object that can no longer be used for its original purpose can have another purpose; an old rusty water tank we found on the property is now our firepit, an old bed frame is now our chill out back support, together with pallets from food delivery, old bedsheets are now cleaning cloths, an old closet door is now our blackboard etc.

7. Design from patterns to details ‘By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go’. Observing the property and seeing the full picture before implementing details has been an important part of the development of the property, something that will keep going for our time here. Sometimes the closer we get to something the more distance we are creating for ourselves to understand the bigger picture. Permaculture principle 1 of observation, guided us from seeing the bigger picture of the ecosystem of our property to deciding on the smaller separate parts in a way that they are supporting each other. The patterns are aspects like sunlight and wind, the weather and the seasons, how we as humans are using/walking on the property, the soil, energy harvesting, wildlife etc. Using general pattern of sustainable living, understanding them in our context before making the ‘custom-made’ detailed design that fits our unique property.

8. Integrate rather than segregate ‘By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between them and they support each other’. Nature often has easy solutions for you if try to integrate instead of segregating. For example, ‘three sisters’, a well-known combination that we use in our vegetable garden is to plant corn, pumpkin/squash and green beans together. Corn provides climbing stalks for the beans, while the beans as a nitrogen-fixer provide nitrogen that is taken in to their roots to fertilize the soil while also stabilizing the tall corn during heavy winds. The large leaves of squash plants shade the ground which helps retain soil moisture and prevent weeds. Another example is the nettle that is hated by many, but is such a great plant to integrate into your crops. They are high in nutrients so you can make your fertilizer from it, they are loved by caterpillars and other pests that you don’t want on your veggie crops and are also a very nutritious plant that we use in our cooking. This is a plant that you want to integrate into your garden as it reduces your workload in many ways. ‘Many hands make light work’, working together, both people and nature will give a synergy effect. Creating a food forest is a way of letting nature take care of itself, the need of labor will be reduced and we can use our time for other creations or explorations.

9. Use small and slow solutions ‘Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.’ In our property most of what we have constructed is built with trees from the property and other second-hand stuff found locally. This means quite labor-intensive, slow-moving work in the very initial stage; cutting the trees, handling and working the wood, shaping it to fit the purpose etc. but it also is sustainable, with good quality that will last for the time intended. We could have done it fast with ready materials, but the value would not be the same. Growing organic vegetables with the principles of permaculture might give a smaller crop in the start, but in the long run you are maintaining healthy soil that can be used forever and will provide more vegetables in the long run. Using logs for mushroom farming, imitating natures own way of growing mushrooms will give you a long wait before you can harvest, but on the other side you will then be able to harvest for many years onwards. The increasing mobility and information technology has led to a worldwide stress problem. For human happiness it also essential that we have time. Time to be here and now, nurture community, nurture your body to stay healthy. Living smaller and slower, close to nature, will create health for nature and people itself. At Hagabrekka we use time to do wild harvest, this is a very time-consuming action, but it provides us with so many health benefits, not only the wild herbs that we consume, but the action of being in the forest, the movement of the body and the peace and tranquility receives from interacting with nature.

10. Use and value diversity ‘Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.’ This principle can easily be connected to ‘integrate rather than segregate’. Using diversity in our vegetable crops and food forest is not only for nature to help and support each other with the different abilities of the plants, but also to make sure that you will ‘obtain a yield’. Having diversity will ensure that you will still benefit from some of the crops even though some might turn out as planned. Say that that our spinach is doing very bad one year, we still have the kale that might be ok. Monocultures are dominating agriculture, and it has proven to cause pests and diseases which again has been tried to solve with chemical pesticides and control of nature. Using polyculture, diversity in food production is not only enabling us to grow organic, but also reducing the labor as we are using natures own way of evolving and working together. For foods like potatoes (that you have to sow every year) we will always change them around and mix them with other crops. Every plant has its abilities on how it is interacting with the soil and should be used as a tool. Diversity can also be transferred to our social connectivity. We aim to bring together a diverse group of humans here at Hagabrekka Wanderland, it is in our differences that we can learn and grow, and find new ways to live in harmony with nature.

11. Use edges & value the marginal 'Don’t think you are on the right track just because it's a well-beaten path'. Using edges and value the marginal can be understood in many contexts, both between ecosystem and the way of living and understanding life. The most common and popular is not necessarily the right path, or the most significant. We would obviously not have made the choice of living like we are doing here at Hagabrekka if we followed the common. We are a marginal idea, but a necessary one to create changes in a world that needs it. You are reading this because you dare to think different, you are valuing the marginal just by taking that inititativ! The edges between ecosystem are often a place of great diversity and life as it’s a productive area of exchange of energy and material. Often the marginal and invisible part of systems are overlooked, remember to widen your perspective. Yoga is teaching you to break the boxes that society has placed you in, because you are infinite potential.

12. Creatively use and respond to change ‘We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time’. This goes hand in hand with all the other principles, starting with observing so you can work with nature. Try to see any challenges that occur as an opportunity for growth. Don’t try to change the way of nature, but try to change your perception so you can work with all the abundance that nature offers. When we are observing the climate changing as a consequence of human overconsumption, we find ways to consume less without compromising on happiness. Maybe what we need to ask ourselves is if a huge house, several cars, a million different electronic devices, meat consumption and all the material wealth that is painted as the happy ‘dream life’ will really make you happy? Or is it a manipulation? Remember that all change start with yourself.

You have the ability to create whatever life you want for yourself!


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