Today’s activity is for your family to work together to: (1) produce a list of as many of the elements in your home food system as you can think of, (2) make a sketch of as many of the relationships between those elements as you can think of, and (3) using a different color, add elements and relationships to your system that you would like to add to your system to make it more self-sustaining requiring fewer purchased inputs from, and producing less waste outputs to the outside world.
And now some background to describe, explain and motivate this activity.
As I have mentioned before, I am an advocate for the ecological design of both learning environments and communities and agricultural systems. One aspect of ecological design is a focus on the relationships between the parts of, and participants in, the system being designed. Ecological designers focus on designing systems where the parts and participants in the system work together to achieve desired goals. Permaculture is, among many other things, ecological design applied to agriculture and natural building.
This is all kind of abstract. I’m going to make it clear with an example from our home system. Our indoor food system includes the following elements (among many others):
- Bean sprouts
- Compost bucket
- Sourdough starter
- Ash bucket
- Grow Table
- Indoor plants
- Peter and Ann Kindfield
- Our friends
- Kitchen Counters
- Water Filter
- Grey water
Having a compost bucket and sprouting beans and growing lettuce and herbs inside does not mean we have a wholistic design. What makes our home system a wholistic design is the relationship between those elements. For example, I scrape food scraps from our counter into our compost bucket and burry some of that compost in the soil in my grow table, which, energized by the sun and grow lights, produces lettuce that we eat. I’ve attached a sketch of some of the elements in our system and some of the productive relationships between those elements.
Your task, should you chose to accept it, is to make your own with your kids. Have them do as much as they can with you cheering them on and scaffolding as required.