Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Katharine Anderson, Senior Lecturer; Environmental Studies

Second Advisor

Brendan Fisher, Associate Professor; Environmental Studies

Third Advisor

Amy Seidl, Associate Director; Environmental Studies

Keywords

community building, permaculture, resiliency, traditional ecological knowledge, Vermont

Abstract

Our current agricultural system is unsustainable, creating lasting and accumulating effects on the Earth’s ecosystems. Many people are growing unsatisfied with the ways in which our food system has degraded their individual and community well-being. Permaculture is an agro-ecological system, rooted in a set of ethics that in recent decades has sparked the interests of people far and wide, with varying backgrounds, to become more self-resilient and build healthier communities. This research seeks to understand individual experiences of permaculture practioners in Vermont and the impacts to their environmental worldview, relationship to the natural world, sense of community, and resiliency. One focus group and six semi-directed interviews were conducted to assess the research questions. Informed by TEK, the data was analyzed within the knowledge-practice-belief (k-p-b) complex. Sources of knowledge acquisition are typified by: works of literature, notable figures, institutions of higher learning and opportunities for experiential learning. Daily and long term practices are organized by each individual participant. Relevant stories pertaining to evolved belief sets are included. Significant themes that emerged are: permaculture contains attributes of traditional ecological systems, the permaculture k-p-b complex impacts environmental worldview, relationship to the natural world and sense of community, community networks are central to permaculture, and personal food production activities increase resilience.

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