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What is Permaculture?

A Very Brief History
Permaculture as a concept and systematic method, was co-originated by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in 1978 in Holmgren's manuscript, Permaculture One, which was inspired by their wide-ranging conversations on the relationship between humans and natural systems, as well as their gardening experiences. The word permaculture originally referred to Permanent Agriculture, but was expanded to stand also for Permanent Culture, as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly resilient system.
 
(PERMAnent agriCULTURE or PERMAnent CULTURE)
David Holmgren
"Consciously designed landscapes, which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.
 
People, their buildings, and the ways in which they organize themselves are central to permaculture. 
 
Permaculture integrates people into Nature’s design. A permaculture design provides us with shelter, food, water, income, community and aesthetic and spiritual fulfillment within a balanced and healthy biological community."

Permaculture Ethics
The code of ethics that sets the standard for permaculturists and permaculture design

Earth Care
  • Earth's resources are finite
  • Earth's ecosystems are fragile
  • everything is interconnected and interdependent
  • preserve Earth's ecology and biology to include all living and non-living things
People Care
  • no person is an island
  • self-sufficiency is a myth
  • care for oneself
  • collaborate and support each other
  • help build community by sharing knowledge and experience so others can be self-reliant
Fair Share
  • the Earth’s resources are limited
  • these resources need to be shared amongst many beings
  • use only what you need; limit consumption and reproduction
  • redistribute surplus to the benefit of the Earth, people, and future generations
  • meaningful work
Bill Mollison
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted
and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system."
Peter Bane
"Permaculture is the conscious design of “cultivated” ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a harmonious integration of people into the landscape in such a way that the land grows in richness, productivity, and aesthetic beauty.
 
Permaculture is an ethical design system for creating human environments that are ecologically sound and economically viable. Permaculture systems provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable."
Permaculture Design Principles
Observe and interact
By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
 
Capture and store energy
By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
 
Obtain a yield
Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
 
Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
 
Use and value renewable resources and services
Make the best use of natures abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
 
 Produce no waste
By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
 
Design from patterns to details
By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
 
Integrate rather than segregate
By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
 
Use small and slow solutions
Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
 
Use and value diversity
Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
 
Use edges and value the marginal
The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
 
Creatively use and respond to change
We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
These techniques create good systems
No-till Sheet Mulching
Rainwater Collection
Planting in Polycultures
Use of Perennials
Edible Forests
Swales
Greywater
Constructed Wetlands
Small Pond Aquaculture
Composting
Keyline Plowing
Intensive Grazing
Plant-Animal Integration
Planting in "Guilds"
Natural Materials Construction
Passive Solar
Thermal Mass
Cover Cropping
Use of Plant Residues
Vermiculture
"Permaculture is about designing ecological human habitats and food production systems.  It is a land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, micro-climate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities.  The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way we place them in the landscape.  This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature."
Permaculture Activist Magazine