Characterizing Plant Communities on Canadian Permaculture Farms

Hirschfeld, Sarah
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University of Guelph

Permaculture is a promising sustainable agriculture model with representation in at least 51 countries worldwide including Canada. Little is known about the outcomes of this adoption, or permaculture generally, as empirical research has been very limited. This study is the first we are aware of to characterize plant communities on permaculture farms. Vegetation surveys were completed for 10 commercial permaculture farms in the Vancouver Island – Coast region of British Columbia, Canada in August 2016. Permaculture farms were characterized by high species diversity, which was divided among multiple unique polycultures. Farm-scale perennial species richness and abundance significantly exceeded annuals. Many ecological and agronomic studies highlight the benefits of species, functional, and landscape diversities to ecosystem services. It is strongly recommended that future research include systematic, multisite assessment of the impacts of permaculture management on ecosystem properties and functioning.

Permaculture, Sustainable agriculture, Perennial, Biodiversity, Agroecology, Ecosystem services, Landscape design, Functional diversity