Humans started to figure out how to turn wild plants into more productive food sources approximately ten thousand years ago. By carefully choosing the right plants and breeding them to be more uniform producers of seed, in a process called natural selection, we were able to enter a new stage of humanity. These tribes ceased to be hunter gathers and became dependent on growing a more controlled source of food, such as grain (cereal grasses), roots and fruit trees. These first domesticated plants were called landraces, which were slowly created by the first Homo Sapien farmers, leading to a new dawn for our species in which would change the Earth for tens of thousands of years to come.
The Earth’s fields, forests and oceans have been the original permaculture gardens of eden that have nourished life for hundreds of millions of years. All species relied on these naturally occurring organic gardens to supply food and it worked in most cases. There were sometimes fires, cold winters or drought, making it difficult to forage for local sources of food. Often, whatever species that encountered such dire circumstances would perish or significantly diminish in numbers. Humans had the fortune that they were able to manipulate the environment to their advantage as to mitigate such unfortunate occurrences. They did this by trial and error. All domesticated seeds grown today would not exist without their painstaking failures and successes. The patience and knowledge they needed to figure this process out and how to continue the greatest science experiment at that time, had to be carefully handed down from generation to generation.
Many cultures around the world came up with their own methods of domesticating numerous edible plants that were around them. This was the beginnings of permaculture, which is also known under various names such as agroforestry, fire-stick farming or polyculture. The first cultivated crops were annuals such as wheat, legumes, and flax. Animals, such as pigs, sheep, and cattle were also being raised at his time for meat consumption. As time passed, humans became more sedentary, allowing for the first civilizations to form on the planet. This gave our ancient relatives time to contemplate new philosophical ideals that would come to create a vast variety of cultures across the globe. As they learned more about plant breeding, soil, and irrigation, it was only a matter of time before they realized that not only should they plant annuals, but also plant perennial food sources that would come back year after year. These peoples in various places around the world were the first permaculturist’s planting cacao, dates, nut and fruit tress. Up until these times, food sources were scattered throughout the hillsides and forests, so concentrating them meant a more reliable diet year after year, allowing our ancient relatives to expand into a new era of humanity.
Permaculture as a new way of life, meant more stability, more time to concentrate on other ideals, such as building and politics, and more than anything meant increased food security. No longer did they have to travel far distances to gather food in hope that other animals had not already gotten to it. Planting their own local garden of eden’s ensured that their children and the elders were able to be fed and sustained without getting tired and weary from having to move around so much, leading to population growth. Permaculture is the basis of the history of Agriculture. It is a lost art that needs it own nourishing and rediscovery in our modern times. We can learn a lot from these ancient agricultural practices and implement them to ensure a more sustainable and viable future.