The idea of design is an interesting one for me at this juncture in my life. First it implies creativity. Homesteading is an inately creative pursuit. When the idea of homesteading first sparked my interest it was in my little 5'x 10" community garden plot in Portland, Maine. While my initial interest in gardening sprouted from the ability to grow fresh food for Tristan and myself and save some money; I also learned that what I planted and how I planted it could create a tiny, beautiful little oasis from a hectic life. My mind could wander while my body tilled and weeded. Lines of poetry would form when the osprey that nested on a nearby train trestle, caught thermals off the hill where the garden was located. The play between greenery and flower was an interesting palette to work with.
That garden provided some healthy food and some important lessons during lean times in those days. The most important lesson was that I could provide for myself even if I did not have a lot of money. A seed gets planted, a small amount of effort goes into the growing, a little more effort and I could save the product to eat later. The next creative pursuit was learning how to preserve and cook the product from the garden. The way that I ate changed during this time. I could see that if I made my bread instead of buying it I had better quality at a lower price. It added a moment every few days where I could concentrate on the kneading as a meditative process. The smell brought my children into the kitchen. I learned that if I could slow down for those few moments of bread making that the result was better than if I rushed through it.
From scratch was not just something I could apply to cooking it was also something I could apply to many other things. The idea of from scratch opens up a whole host of possibilities. It means that you can see the possibilities that can be gleaned from an object. A skein of yarn becomes a hat. A bounty of forsaken zucchini becomes fritters, bread and omelets. A pile of scrap wood can become a chicken coop. A group of people with a common need can create a solution from scratch. From scratch requires creativity. From scratch seems like an important element of design.
From scratch requires a tally of what you have and what you need. An artist can't paint if there is no canvass. Applying principles of permaculture design to the homestead and a life require a similar examination. In the language of permaculture this is observation. In part 2 of this post I will share my observations.