NDs – Let’s Heal The Village! An Introduction to Permaculture

Surely there is “job security” in being a healer. There is no lack of opportunity to share ways to be healthy. All around us, everyday, we observe people making choices about diet, lifestyle or medical treatment that clearly could be improved with naturopathic care. Like you, I understand that making a choice to purchase and eat foods that are good for me is the power and juice of our knowledge (pun intended.)

As I sat in my office, doctoring individuals one-by-one, I realized some of the limitations of this typical clinic approach. I wanted to reach more people- to be outside of my four walls and attempt to help more people in society. Specifically, I wanted to help those individuals who may not know about or be able to afford the wholistic naturopathic medicinal approach I was using.

Whole health has much to do with zip code, income, privilege and access as it does with specific health habits. I clearly saw that the way I was practicing medicine was exclusive to those who had a “good” job and could afford health insurance or pay cash. I too had bills to pay and I began to wonder if there might be another way to make a living and increase access with this medicine?

“Doctor as teacher” kept bouncing in my head and I asked myself, “What about the Village?” How can I help my community? Is my community only for those with “good” jobs?

Permaculture is a whole system design for health of the Earth and her critters just like naturopathic medicine is a whole system design for health of the individual and all her variables.

As time went by I became more and more disenchanted with my mode of “practice” and my lifestyle. Wanting to “feel my heart sing,” I decided to go on sabbatical.

In my new life on sabbatical, I rediscovered freedom, a wonderful luxury these days. I spent more time in reflection, looking out my window at the birds and wildlife- and guess what? My heart began to sing.

The sabbatical, my concurrent rediscovery of wildlife and freedom and my understanding of wholism, led me to permaculture.

Historically, permaculture began as an approach to life that supported ongoing agriculture with a minimum of inputs and has expanded to mean the design of human systems to live in harmony with the Earth, and all her flora and fauna. The goal is to see everything in our environment as a resource (discovered or not) and to increase the efficiency of human capacity so that our inputs are minimized and potentially eliminated (less cash exchanges, less work input), all without destroying our environment.

Permaculture is a whole system design for health of the Earth and her critters just like naturopathic medicine is a whole system design for health of the individual and all her variables. There are some basic principles in both practices.

The three basic principles of permaculture are:

1) Care of the Earth
2) Care of the people
3) Share the abundance.

I am now integrating my learning and experience of naturopathic healing with my knowledge and experience of permaculture. It has been easy for me to grasp permaculture because both practices express values for health, habitat and harmony. One can easily spot many overlays when the templates of naturopathic medicine and permaculture are stacked.

Following my sabbatical, I began doing volunteer and increasingly paid work. In this ‘village’ approach, I can reach more people, be outside and teach people how to grow some healthy food in nearly all-urban settings. The garden and the stage have now become my new office settings. People living in any zip code are more able to access basic naturopathic and community health information. Community gardens enable the village to embody healthy practices then and there by simply picking and eating the organic vegetable they grow.

So, if you get the urge to go outside and to reach more people, think about what makes your heart sing. What I know is that naturopathic physicians make great village healers.

Comments are closed.