10. Use and Value Diversity

Food Forest

Principle number 10…Use and value diversity.  I find this principle to very closely related to number 8, integrate rather than segregate.  In order to integrate, you need to have diversity.  Integrating has more to do with building systems and diversity is more about having many different options for your needs and the needs of the systems in the environment.

Like I mentioned before, there are many reasons for diversity on your homestead.  Polyculture, growing many different crops, is one important way to protect against total loss.  But diversity can be much more than just growing different crops.

Besides our garden and food forest, we also are learning to wild harvest.  By learning about the plants in our environment through observation, we can find a diverse selection of wild edibles in our own backyard.  We do not currently raise our own meat or hunt, but there are plenty of meat and egg options available to help diversify your homestead.  Once you add something like animlas to your homestead, you not only diversify your food options, but you also now have plenty of fresh manure for your gardens along with anything the specific animals may have to offer.  Wool, protection, pest control, etc are things animals can provide for a homestead.

You can also add diversity by growing plants for things other than food.  You can plant a butterfly/bird/bee garden to encourage your pollinators.  You could grow bamboo for building furniture.  You could plant indigo to be used for dye.  Hemp, flax, cotton and many others are excellent plants for fibers.  You can dry gourds to use as ladles, plates, or bowls.  There are so many things you can grow that will provide useful materials for you.

Another great thing you can do to add some diversity would be a woodlot for coppicing.  Coppicing is basically cutting specific trees that will grow back with out replanting.  You first look to see what you have for firewood available on your lot.  Then find out which of these wood options coppices well and encourage the growth of these trees.  There are also plenty of wild plant varieties that you can take hardwood cuttings from and bring them to your lot to add diversity.  Make sure you are allowed to take what you are taking, of course.  I got apple cutting and locust cuttings from some neighbors’ backyards, and now I can propagate them and add them to my food forest.

We have at least five different ways we can cook a meal. On the wood stove, the rocket stove, 2 propane stoves, fire pit with various implements and a solar oven.  If it’s a cloudy day we don’t use the solar oven, but we have 4 other options.  If it’s hot out, we don’t use the wood stove, but can head outside and use anything in the outdoor kitchen.

There are plenty of other things you can do to add diversity to your homestead.  The more different options and backup plans you have laid out, the better prepared you are.  “Never put all your eggs in one basket.”

Some links to check out:

Permaculture Magazine

Permaculture Principles

Think of it as an Adventure

Deep Green Permaculture

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