Permaculture, self-sufficiency and a great desire to improve our lives. 

When I find myself talking to someone about what the future of mankind will be, I receive the most incredible answers: from those who could not care less about it, to those who are completely catastrophic: “there is nothing we can do about it”.

I like to think that we still have important opportunities and despite having worked hard in recent decades to destroy our home, our Mother Earth, we can start over.

I realised that many processes on Earth are slow and take thousands, sometimes millions of years, while others are extremely fast.

I think of the Earth as a large living organism, and like we have done so many times in our life, I think it is willing to start over from the beginning, as if we had never mistreated it.

More and more woods in Romagna

One of the fastest and efficient processes that I see every day is the regeneration of soils and their life. In the municipality of Bagno di Romagna, where I live, all the mountains were once cultivated. Looking at photos of 70 years ago, it is difficult to recognize the fields that today are totally covered by the woods. Great part of the Apennines and also the Alps have experienced this process. In the 30’s it was estimated that there were 4 million hectares of forest in Italy, while today there are 11 hectares, and they keep on growing. This figure that might seem encouraging, it worries me because unfortunately it means that more and more food is imported from abroad. Cultivated lands have decreased even in the plains due to overbuilding. On the other hand, in the last hundred years, there has never been a development of wild flora and fauna as in recent decades. Every day it seems that the natural world is regaining possession of what it had lost.

And if the forest is so quick to restore balance, we could do the same. If nature has endowed us with such a sophisticated brain, it is not to destroy nature, but to start an active path of coevolution with it. We can cooperate with biological processes to create new forms of life and organization of living matter. In many native cultures, men consider themselves to be guardians of the Earth who are vigilant so that all natural processes and cycles can be carried out at their best.

Think what a nice paradigm shift could be for our lives if we woke up every morning with the intention of doing something for our Earth rather than just for ourselves

Let’s Re-start taking care of us

Honestly I don’t think that in Romagna we will ever be able to become like the natives. Our cultures are too distant, but certainly we could take many ideas from their way of living and thinking. As wild as we consider them, in a long-term view they seem far more intelligent and wiser than we are. From their point of view only a sick animal destroys his own home. Our disease seems to be in a really advanced state, but natural cures already exist, which have no contraindications. It is not the treatments that come from governments, from large multinationals or from universities. As Einstein argued, “You can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking you used to create it”.

Permaculture: a small example for great changes

One of the natural solutions that I believe most valid is certainly permaculture, an approach that is based on the observation of natural mechanisms and that unfortunately it is still not very widespread in our region. Natural ecosystems are enduring, independent and resilient. If we can fully understand how they work, taking these ecosystems as models, we can create more durable and self-sufficient human settlements. With permaculture it is possible to design a house, a farm, a village, a city and even an entire region. A few years ago, I started designing La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza, a farm located in Bagno di Romagna, according to the rules of permaculture. The mistakes I made have been many and I continue to make them, but I constantly think that I am on the right path and that permaculture can allow us to start a new life which is more respectful of nature and biodiversity.

Obviously, my dream does not end with La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza, because a single project cannot change the destiny of our life on Earth, but I think that a small successful example can influence bigger entities, such as a municipality for instance. And why not? Maybe even our rich region! A project that could transform every house, town and city of Romagna in a sort of intensely inhabited natural environment, by carefully limiting exploitation of natural resources, restoring the mantle of trees that was stolen to Earth by too greedy humans and meeting our needs in a more sustainable way. We will have to give up our “toys” and waste until we are surrounded by essential goods that actually make our life truly meaningful.

Francesco Angelo Rosso