What is Permaculture

You will hear many interpretations as to what Permaculture is, but one thing that should remember is that it is NOT just about gardening.

It is a complete systems design for creating ecosystems that include gardens, communities, and your home.

The term was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978, who formulated the concept in opposition to Western industrialized methods and in congruence with Indigenous or traditional knowledge.

Permaculture is grounded in the 3 ethics, Care of Self, Care of the Earth, Care of the Future and 12 principles.

Holmgren articulated twelve permaculture design principles in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:

  • Observe and interact: Take time to engage with nature to design solutions that suit a particular situation.
  • Catch and store energy: Develop systems that collect resources at peak abundance for use in times of need.
  • Obtain a yield: Emphasize projects that generate meaningful rewards.
  • Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: Discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems function well.
  • Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance: reduce consumption and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  • Produce no waste: Value and employ all available resources: waste nothing.
  • Design from patterns to details: Observe patterns in nature and society and use them to inform designs, later adding details.
  • Integrate rather than segregate: Proper designs allow relationships to develop between design elements, allowing them to work together to support each other.
  • Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain, make better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
  • Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces system-level vulnerability to threats and fully exploits its environment.
  • Use edges and value the marginal: The border between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the system’s most valuable, diverse and productive elements.
  • Creatively use and respond to change: A positive impact on inevitable change comes from careful observation, followed by well-timed intervention

Permaculture is also a global movement of individuals, groups, and networks working to create the world we want, by providing for our needs and organizing our lives in harmony with nature. The movement is active in the most privileged and the most destitute communities and countries.