Jessi Bloom is a best selling author, award-winning ecological landscape designer, professional horticulturalist, and certified arborist. She owns N.W. Bloom–EcoLogical Landscapes, known for innovation in sustainable landscape design, construction, and maintenance. Jessi is committed to educating others and now spends much of her time teaching, consulting, and speaking nationwide in addition to designing landscapes. Her work has appeared in Fine Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset, NY Times, Disney, PBS’s Growing a Greener World TV, Martha Stewart Living, Mother Earth News and many other large media outlets. Recognition for her work includes awards from multiple State agencies as well as industry organizations. She lives north of Seattle with her two sons on her permaculture homestead.
Jessi’s latest release is “Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth“, which she co-authored with Dave Boehnlein. Read on for more information about this book and find out how to win a copy, courtesy of The Timber Press!
1. Why should we engage in permaculture?
There are many reasons to engage in permaculture. First, it is a design approach to help us create our own habitat, or our own paradise even! It will have you thinking about important questions about the systems we depend on. Food, water, energy, animals, finances, etc. Permaculture design provides a tool kit to help us solve problems and create a more sustainable future for ourselves, which is more aligned with living a smaller ecological footprint. This design process teaches us how to think holistically and helps build resilience in many ways. Ultimately, it can help make us happier, healthier and live more abundant lives!
2. It is fair to say that permaculture is so much more than gardening as its impacts can be felt in energy efficiency, water, recycling and land stewardship if we choose them to be. Given the large scope, what advice do you have for someone interested in getting started in permaculture? Where do they even begin and how does your book guide them in the process?
The book guides readers step by step through the permaculture design process and then outlines different ways to look at the systems giving us practical ideas to make changes. I encourage people to start with one element or idea that they are passionate about, maybe that is growing food, using grey water or keeping chickens! Each system (food, water, energy, animals, etc) has starting points that vary in level of difficulty, which are explained at the end of each chapter in nifty charts.
3. In your book you discuss a transitional ethic that says that no one is going from zero to sustainable overnight. How long then does it take to make the journey to being sustainable?
It can take years to make the shift to being more sustainable. It all depends on the persons motivation and capacity to make changes. Much of our lifestyle choices are built upon systems already in place such as food systems, water systems, etc. It can often take a big life change to realize that we need to approach living differently. A good friend of mine became very sick and immediately motivated her to look very deeply at exactly where her food came from.
4. What are some of the common obstacles that people face when transitioning to a permaculture way of life and how does your book help to overcome them?
One of the big obstacles is that when someone first encounters permaculture, it can be equally exciting and overwhelming. As exciting as it is, much of the information available is theory based. In our book, we look for practical permaculture ideas that readers can implement right away. It is often best to learn from someone else who has made changes and be inspired from them. In the book we have hundreds of photos from different parts of the country and world to help inspire readers to see what is possible.
5. What is the key to becoming successful at permaculture? Is it a matter of having access to a lot of resources (money/materials) or just being resourceful? Or something else?
There are many paths one can take to learn and start implementing permaculture and several keys to becoming successful at permaculture:
1) Getting started! Being open to learning and trying new things is very important. We learn from making mistakes, not from having analysis paralysis.
2) Starting small! It is easier to learn and make changes to small projects vs large ones.
3) Having resources (knowledge/skills, time, money, etc) are very helpful, but so is being resourceful and finding creative ways to get a project going!
6. In your book you discuss how your permaculture beginnings actually started in your youth where you “developed deep emotional connections to the land we grew up on” via your many activities in nature. Do you find that it is more difficult to sell people who grew up in urban settings on the concept of permaculture and how does your book help change their mindset?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I believe it is completely natural for humans to feel a deep connection to nature and once they feel it, it is hard to look back. Biophilia is the understanding that we possess a biological inclination to affiliate and connect with natural systems and organisms. We are meant to live in harmony with nature — after all, we are apart of nature too! Of course, there are beliefs and values that preventing this connection as folks grow up in different regions or cultures, regardless of population size, with values that don’t necessarily place nature as a priority in human life – we see that quite often unfortunately. Permaculture is rooted in ethics that take care of the earth, people and involve giving back, which resonates with most people regardless of where they live.
To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Thursday, March 17, 2016 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:
Are you interested in incorporating permaculture into your home life – why or why not?
Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See Rules for more information.)
UPDATE 3/24/2016: Congratulations to John Polley, the winner of the book “Practical Permaculture“!