Applications of permaculture enterprise research
Research on permaculture enterprise invites potential applications in many different areas. These include drawing on research findings to support innovation by both new and existing enterprises, supporting monitoring and evaluation of activities and outcomes, and supporting knowledge exchange among and between researchers and permaculture enterpreneurs. A participatory action research orientation invites practical applications, which are built in as a central feature of research.
The main purpose of this research is its practical applications in supporting more numerous and effective initiatives in permaculture entrepreneurship. The preliminary scoping work conducted in the UK within the KEEP Project (equivalent to the survey phase in a design cycle) makes immediate practical applications more likely in that country. International permaculture enterprise research may need to begin with similar preliminary documentation; it is also possible that drawing on work in the UK might accelerate its progress towards practical applications and build them in from the start.
Such foregrounding of practical applications is inherent in action research orientations that already characterise the Permaculture Association's research strategy and work of the Permaculture International Research Network. They build in immediate practical benefits for non-academic participants. Direct involvement in research of practitioner organisations allows great potential for non-academic 'impacts' to which many research funders attach increasing importance.
An important way that research can directly feed into practice is by supporting innovation, particularly at grassroots levels (i.e. initiated by autonomous practitioners and communities rather than via any formal organisation or institutional set-up). An important dimension of such innovation is resource mobilisation: identifying, activating and sharing potential resources, whether fiscal or non-fiscal. Monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of new iniatives is another important area of learning for and about innovation, to which research and researchers can make important contributions.
Action research invites numerous forms of knowledge exchange, both collaborative and more centralised. Possible decentralised initiatives include 'matchmaking' among researchers and practitioners, and development of mechanisms for peer-to-peer support - connection and interchange - among practitioners. This knowledge commons is one forum for both of these, desgined to be solutions-oriented, useful to practitioners, and to draw upon case studies.
A specific avenue for implementation of findings, and further action learning and action research, is creation of a 'permaculture business hub' that support the capacity of the Permaculture Association and/or ECOLISE to nurture enterprise. This could take the form of a 'permaculture business park', either physical or virtual, employment by the Permaculture Association of a permaculture business advisor, or delivery of regional training courses.
Creation of learning resources is another important potential pathway to knowledge exchange, whether centralised or decentralised.