What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a set of design principles centered around holistic systems working with, rather than against, nature. To understand the very basics, it is important to recognize that all decisions are rooted in three ethics: earth care, people care, and fair share (a.k.a. “the return of surplus”). These ideas guide everything in the chain, from gardens and food forests, to earth works and water catchment systems, to homes and power systems.

Healthy soil builds resilience

One important part is building up soils to gradually make them more nutrient-rich and well-balanced. Soil is, after all, the base from which our food grows. Virtually all of the health benefits from growing your own food are literally rooted in having healthy soil.

When permaculture systems are designed well, they are sustainable and much easier to care for over time. Permaculture garden create true ecosystems that have built-in mechanisms to constantly revitalize the earth, keeping the plants healthier. Healthy plants are more resistant to disease and pests, which minimizes labor for upkeep.

By simulating, or directly utilizing, patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems and also engage community by education, research and design it has grown a popular web of global networks and developed into a global social movement.

Background and principles

The term permaculture was developed and coined in 1978 by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison from Australia. The word originally referred to “permanent agriculture“, but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture”, as it was understood that social aspects needs to be concidered to create a truly sustainable system.

It has many branches, for instance; ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, construction and integrated water resources management. The 12 principles of permaculture most commonly referred to are first described include:

1.       Observe and Interact
2.       Catch and Store Energy
3.       Obtain a Yield
4.       Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback
5.       Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
6.       Produce No Waste
7.       Design From Patterns to Details
8.       Integrate Rather Than Segregate
9.       Use Small and Slow Solutions
10.   Use and Value Diversity
11.   Use Edges and Value the Marginal
12.   Creatively Use and Respond to Change

For urban and rural settings

The principles of permaculture is applicable in both rural and urban contexts. It can be implemented at any scale, regenerating villages, farms or entire landscapes into thriving, healthy human environments.

Permaculture is also a practical and hands-on approach. It starts at the backdoor with a kitchen garden, spreading out to a food forest. It then unfolds to larger scale strategies such as agroecologly, water harvesting, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture and livelihood generation.

Using these solutions, work is minimized, wastes become resources, productivity and yields increase, and the environment is restored.

Learn more – free download!

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook

Permaculture guidebook