Here are an interesting couple of verses I came across in the Bible the other day. I obviously can’t say that this is Permaculture, but there are some interesting things we can glean from it…

When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.
– Leviticus 19:23-25

These verses highlight a few things…

When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten.
In modern horticulture, debudding (removing flower buds) or complete thinning of fruit is recommended for young trees during the first 2-3 growing seasons. This allows all the tree’s energy is put into growth, not fruit production. By the third or fourth growing season, the tree is well established and is forming a canopy, and fruit production will be much higher. Now this verse says nothing about removing the buds or fruit, just not to eat it the fruit. I don’t want to force this verse to say something it is not, but could this may be an ancient practice that developed into debudding or thinning?

In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.
The offerings of the Old Testament were used to atone for wrong-doing, as part of a celebration, or to express gratitude (i.e. the praise offering). The praise offering, also known as a thanksgiving offering, a peace offering, and a fellowship offering, was to be given out of a grateful heart. All the other offerings were placed on the altar (over a fire) and either completely burned up (the rising smoke representing giving it to God in heaven), or part of it was burned and part was it was given as food for the priests or the priests families (Jewish priests could marry). However, the praise offering, because there was no wrong-doing involved, was split between God (burned up), the priests and their family, AND the person giving the offering. There are very specific details for how this sharing was to be done for animal offerings, but I can’t find any specifics for fruit offerings. Maybe a Biblical scholar or historian has more information. Regardless, this is a great example of the Third Ethic: Return of the Surplus. The offerings were a way to provide for the spiritual leaders in the community while also building/maintaining the community as a whole. There are many other spiritual principles at work here, but that is another conversation.

But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased.
I don’t see any hidden Permaculture meaning other than this is an example of a design element producing a yield, the harvest. That always gives me a sense of accomplishment, wonder, and gratefulness. I hope I never lose that feeling.

 

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Photo References:
  • http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Olive%20Tree/Olive%20Tree%20Live.jpg