I recently wrote about the importance of building resiliency into a self-sufficient system in “Creating Resiliency & Stability in Horticulture.” It’ important to build systems that serve multiple functions, that provide a yield that is decoupled with neighboring systems and that can bank resources for use elsewhere—all of which helps to smooth out the peaks and valleys of both cyclical and extraordinary systemic shocks. When it comes to accomplishing all of this and more, the all-star system may just be the humble pond.
A pond can be created, enhanced, or merely “captured” in a very wide variety of environments. It is a reservoir of water—a critical resource—that provides resiliency in times of drought and fire. It can be the center of an aquaculture system for food production—with a food yield that is decoupled from the yield of a garden or from other hunting and gathering. It can also provide a food bank—when other systems yield well, fish will continue to grow, to be harvested when needed. It provides recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and a wide variety of other options. It is also resilient in the face of human action—while raiders historically burn crops and pillage mobile wealth, a pond is not a particularly valuable or vulnerable target.
The latest issue of Mother Earth News (print issue only) has excellent articles on both how to build and maintain small ponds as well as home-scale aquaculture. Also, take a look at P.A. Yeoman’s permaculture classic on key-line dams, ponds, and swale systems, available online here.