Communities of Restoration
By Robert Manno, J. Scott Husted Editor
A Permaculture Life
At Ring of Fire Communities our primary agricultural methodology is best described by the term “permaculture”, which by definition is the development of agricultural methodologies intended to be natural, restorative, sustainable and self- sufficient. We had always practiced elements of permaculture and were excited to find it and adopt it as our overarching agricultural philosophy because it captures our purpose of restoration.
The permaculture methodology begins its focus on restoration of the complex living organism that characterizes healthy soil. By cultivating “living soil”, the product is “living food”. Whereas, large, factory-style industrial farms have focused on controlling and degrading life through high usages of herbicides and pesticides and farming vast fields of single yield crops, the goal of permaculture is to achieve the maximum output of life itself in all its diversity. This involves the restoration of more complex interdependent relationships of animal life and living organisms to ultimately produce “living food” rich in vitamins, minerals and complex microorganisms, essential for human health.
For us, this agricultural methodology stands as a metaphor for our redemptive purpose in every area of life: we establish high-quality schools based on human learning rather than cookie-cutter methods; we implement organic leadership structures based on circles of relationships within the community; we focus on cultivating our local economy, we have adopted slow, gentle animal-based methods of livestock management; we are pioneering in the adoption of a groundbreaking eco-solutions infrastructure; we build on a human scale; we grow food by better-than-organic, sustainable methods. These approaches and more like them are founded on the embrace of a mindful discipline of careful observation of the heart and hand of God -- and this embrace positions us as humble stewards of the work of His loving hands. Such a posture of childlike honor and reliance upon Him is what we earnestly pursue in our daily activities and through every part of our lives.
The need to restore resilient communities is another reason we have chosen to embrace a “permaculture” lifestyle. It has been shown that farms which have adopted systems of permaculture have shown significantly greater resilience to environmental pressures like drought, flood, fire, disease and pestilence. The diversity of complex eco-systems mitigates and balances disease and pestilence. Likewise, better soil health and permeability absorbs and retains moisture, buffering against both flood and drought conditions. Likewise, lush environments that retain cover crops and a multiplicity of trees and vegetables show greater resistance to fire. In just such a way all of life becomes “superpowered” when we build it according to God’s original plan.
Another essential component to our communities is building ecological and energy independent solutions into the community infrastructure from the ground up. We are currently partnered with two leading innovative eco solutions companies in the U.S. to build self-sustainable water, energy and waste infrastructure. We believe this component is critical to our call to live every part of our lives as communities of restoration, redeeming and walking in the glory of God’s original intent in creation through every part of our lives.
Our Primary Goal
Our primary goal, then, at Ring of Fire Communities is to live every part of our lives as worship to our Heavenly Father. We do this by restoring and walking in the original glory of his creation as well as we can within our sphere. We believe that when His creative design is implemented and flourishing, with each part working together, the resulting beauty, complexity and life displays a God-glorifying wonder in everyone who gets to see and experience it. We endeavor to walk this redemptive perspective out in every part of our lives together as community.
For this reason we have embraced approaches in every area that take a step back from factory-style methodologies reflecting highly man-altered, controlled and centralized environments and processes. We look closely at God’s original “ecological” design and seek to cultivate God’s intentions using His established processes in order to partner with Him in His brilliance. In short, we have a desire to do things God’s Way. We can observe His ways in nature, we have an intuitive understanding of the beauty of God’s intent written on our hearts, and we find His ways spelled out in His word.
The result is that we end up caring for and considering all of life, even the “birds of the air”, which He in His extravagance loves and cares for. Though we, from our limited perspective, may be inclined to focus on larger systems of output that promise seemingly more tangible monetary returns, we have found that the Father has already designed optimal systems for abundant rewards, and He has more interest in teaching us that He is more than enough to care for each and every one of us and all of His creation.
Permaculture is just a philosophy of agriculture, although a powerful one. We have taken it up as part of our restoration lifestyle. We have adopted this philosophy because it speaks to our deeper value for discovering and doing things God’s way. In seeking to do things God’s way, we endeavor to take a humble approach to God’s creation in every area of life, looking to nature, restoring old processes, asking Him questions about His will and pleasure and bringing God’s intent and design front and center amidst the present technological environment. This empowers us to cultivate a commitment to traditional process and wholesome products, fruits of our community of restoration.