Introduction To Permaculture

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Permaculture is a conscious design system in which interactive, stable and resilient ecosystems are assembled to provide for the needs of humans (food, energy, climate-appropriate housing etc.).


These ecosystems and their constituent parts are climate and culture specific, and relate to other such elements from the bio-regions they are a part of, in a regenerative and inclusive way.

Below I’ll be dancing around some of the basics of Permaculture, addressing recurring questions and tying together a few threads.


  1. The founders of Permaculture

The co-creators of the Permaculture concept, in the 1970s, were Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. The concept of Permaculture revolved around ecology, agriculture and landscaping. Together, they could see that two of these disciplines were connected, but it wasn’t visible  how the three crossed and intersected. 

While they were investigating the effect of ownership had on land durability, they came to question how in most places on the planet, nature creates a forest. Why then agriculture, if it doesn’t look like a forest, at least why doesn’t it somehow function like a forest?


Learn more about David Holmgren: 


  1. Addressing questions as old as Civilization

Why is our agriculture composed only of annual plants, which grow and die in a year? In nature there is diversity and multiple simultaneous cycles. By understanding how nature designs things, Mollison and Holmgren aimed to create a permanent agriculture and a permanent culture in everything we do.

Therefore, the word Permaculture is a contraction of two Latin words: “permanens” (to persist over time), and “culture” { “cultura” ? } (an activity that sustains human existence). Hence, Permaculture is a persistent system that sustains human existence.

The mindset is that of problem solving: we ask as many pertinent questions as possible, within the given framework (cultural, technological, economic). The solutions are inclusive and make sense to implement as long as they attempt to address human and ecosystemic needs.


  1. What sets Permaculture apart from other practices such as agro-ecology, holistic management or ancient practices ?

Permaculture as a connecting discipline, it tries to cross bridges, to integrate as many techniques as possible and, where possible, improve on existing models. Permaculture Design is very much a copyright-free endeavour, meaning that we work in collaboration with other practitioners, experts in their respective fields, to get as much value from the work as possible. 

If any comparisons are to be made, these have to take into account ethics: we work within the limits of natural laws, as they are translated into three fundamental ethical values: Earth care, People care and Future care; no solution, regardless whether it is scientifically proven, can be applied on the ground if it does not respect these.


  1. Permaculture today: tradition or new science ?

In our understanding today, Permaculture integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies – modeling after the no waste, closed loop systems that exist autonomously in diverse natural systems.

Permaculture uses holistic solutions that apply in rural and urban contexts, and pays close attention to scale, and available resources. It is a diverse toolbox including agriculture, water harvesting and hydrology, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture, appropriate technology, economics and community development.


  1. Who can use Permaculture Design

Permaculture Design can be applied to all fields of Human Activity, and especially… the Garden. But the real starting point is inside yourself: we look at how you, the person, fits into your environment. What are your needs, what are your skills, what are your resources and also what could potentially hinder you in your project ?


As Permaculture practitioners, we will work with natural processes, and will guide you through the steps of designing your own garden; and help you decide what tools work best for your situation. This will vary from project to project, depending on climate, altitude, geology, precipitation, skills, available resources and so on.

To conclude, Permaculture design takes a considerate approach to setting up and developing regenerative environments. The cumulative functions of the living and non-living elements aim at the well-being of all—plants, animals, people, soil, waterways, social and economic structures etc. – and not just at monocultural yields for people or corporations.  


Continue reading: What is Permaculture ?

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