Permaculture

This page begins with a brief overview of permaculture history, ethics, and principles, followed by a list of websites, and organizations offering information, classes, and other resources for delving more deeply into the topic.     Co-founded by Australian’s Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, permaculture is an ecological approach to developing perennial agricultural systems and sustainable, self-sufficient communities of life. Originating as set of concepts which promoted the design of sustainable agroecological systems, permaculture has grown to become a global social movement based on emergent and reflexive, principles, practices, and ideals related to the development of a responsible, compassionate and regenerative way of life. It now crosses numerous disciplinary boundaries including agriculture, horticulture, economics, political science, architecture, engineering, community development, and many more. Permaculture embodies universal principles, including the notion that “Humans, although unusual within the natural world, are subject to the same scientific (energy) laws that govern the material universe, including the evolution of life (Holmgren).” Yet despite its foundational and shared principles, it is also dynamic, personal, and place based. The principles are grounded by an ethical foundation, which seeks to guide their use in productive, ways by emphasizing three basic tenets: care for the earth, care for people, and fair share. Holmgren has developed 12 fundamental principles of design which may be understood as cognitive tools, meant to be applied through creative interaction with the world in an attempt to develop more holistic, healthy, and balanced social and ecological systems.
  1. Observe and interact - By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy - By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste - By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Use small and slow solutions - Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
*From: Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability For a good basic overview of the history of permaculture, please visit: http://pacific-edge.info/a-short-and-incomplete-history-of-permaculture/

If you are interested in permaculture, you may also be interested in our Urban Farm/Gardening Page.

Permaculture Resoures

PermaWiki is a community resource and permaculture designers manual that anyone can edit. It is simply loaded with valuable information and resources for learning and interacting on a wide range of topics related to permaculture. Permaculture Principles is a website is inspired by the work of permaculture co-originator David Holmgren. It features basic permaculture information including ethics and principles, as well as a blog, photos, and a list of resources. The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia features informational articles, coordinates projects, offers courses, resources for sale, and a very active discussion forum, along with many other resources. Permaculture Activist exists to "provide information and liberate people everywhere to provide for their own and their communities' needs for foo, energy, shelter, and a decent life without exploitation or pollution and from the smallest practical area of land". The have a fantastic website loaded with information about more than just permaculture, and publish a magazine and newsletter. They also host a nice blog called Permaculture and Regenerative Design News. Permaculture International Limited is an organization which provides news, articles, trainings, events, a listserve, and other resources. Tigari Publications is Bill Mollison's website. It features his publications, articles, and more. Holmgren Design Services is David Holmgren's website. It features writings, information links, videos, news, photos, and lots of other resources. Wikipedia actually has a fairly good overview and list of references related to permaculture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) publishes Introduction to Permaculture: Concepts and Resources which presents an overview of permaculture philosophy and practice, and a number of resources for investigating the subject more thoroughly. The Permaculture Research Institute has a fantastic page with lots of information and resources. Permaculture Reflections is a nice blog with good information and links. The Food Forrest is a Permaculture Farm and Learning Center with a decent website. Agrowth: Nutrition and Sustainability has some interesting blog posts, and great links to both permaculture networks, and other sites on the web. Backyard Aquaponics is another very rich and well built resource site which 'brings home' information about this 'natural' food production method. The Center for Bioregional Living in New York offers permaculture classes and information