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Diversity Matters [Agriculture
Posted on October 30, 2015 @ 10:56:00 AM by Paul Meagher

The 10th principle of Permaculture is to Use & Value Diversity. According to the website "Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides".

Angelo Eliades is the main guy behind the excellent Deep Green Permaculture website. He has an equally excellent backyard garden that illustrates well the value of diversity. In this video on advanced companion planting Angelo illustrates the value of diversity in keeping pests away, producing a variety of foods and medicines, and create beneficial relationships among plants.

Companion planting is a tool we can use to increase diversity in our gardens and residential landscapes.

Gabe Brown is doing some amazing stuff on a larger scale in his 2000 acre farm where he maintains a diverse polyculture of plants without pesticides and fertilizers because the diversity above and below ground takes care of these functions for him. Harnessing diversity can also be very profitable as Gabe claims to be doing the most profitable farming in his part of the world.

Diversity is all around us but often we are unaware of it or why it matters. As another example, research on bacteria in your gut suggest that diversity of bacteria in your gut is important for good health. The main way you can achieve a diversity of gut flora is by eating a diversity of fruits and vegetables. Diversity of natural foods begets a diversity of gut flora.

If diversity is so important in the natural world, what about in the world of commerce? There are many arguments to be made for diversity in the workplace but we don't have to limit ourselves to thinking about diversity only from a human resources point of view. Diversity may also be important in terms of the number of technologies you have available to solve a problem, the number of ways you can reach your customers, the number of suppliers you rely upon and so on. Instead of picking the best and discarding the rest maybe the rest have their own unique strengths and contributions that makes it worthwhile to keep them around?

Diversity just for the sake of diversity is not as useful a diversity that incorporates some notion of companion planting into the selection process. The companion planting that Angelo is doing is guided not simply by the direct effects a particular plant might have on another plant, but on how a plant might attract beneficial insects and repel nasty insects. This will in turn affect how his plants perform. Each plant has some role to play in the garden and all the plants together playing out their roles can result in something that is abundant and productive. The ability to use diversity successfully is an acquired skill and begins when you start to take note of and appreciate the benefits of diversity.

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