What is Permaculture?
Permaculture which was first developed as Permanent Agriculture, and then later on evolved into Permanent Culture is about creating sustainable human habitats by following nature’s patterns. It uses the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems to provide a framework and guidance for people to develop their own sustainable solutions to the problems facing their world, on a local, national or global scale. It is based on the philosophy of co-operation with nature and caring for the earth and its people.
- A globally recognized environmental design methodology. The founders of Permaculture, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, coined the term 25 years ago. Now there are over 4000 independently operated projects in 120 countries
- A holistic ecological approach to the design and development of human settlements that takes into account food production, structures, technologies, energy, natural resources, landscape, animal systems, plant systems, and social and economic structures.
- About working with, rather than against, nature. It provides us with the tools to satisfy our needs in a way that sustains the earth, future generations and ourselves.
- Inspired by traditional wisdom, especially the sustainable farming cultures of Asia, India and Africa and incorporates new appropriate methods and technologies.
Permaculture Ethics & Principles
Permaculture as a design system is based on natural systems. It is about working with nature, not against it – not using natural resources unnecessarily or at a rate at which they cannot be replaced. It also means using outputs from one system as inputs for another (vegetable peelings as compost, for example), and so minimizing wastage.
People care is about looking after us as people, not just the world we live in. It works on both an individual and a community level. Self-reliance, co-operation and support of each other should be encouraged. It is, however, important to look after ourselves on an individual level too. Our skills are of no use to anyone if we are too tired to do anything useful! People care is also about our legacy to future generations.
The fair shares part of the Permaculture ethic brings earth care and people care together. We only have one earth, and we have to share it – with each other, with other living things, and with future generations. This means limiting our consumption, especially of natural resources, and working for everyone to have access to the fundamental needs of life – clean water, clean air, food, shelter, meaningful employment, and social contact.
This definition has been extracted from resources made available on the Permaculture Association of Britain website
Permaculture and Sustainability
Sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN Agenda 21). Sustainability of the environment, systems, and the people is a central
concept that the Permaculture Design Systems provides solutions for.
Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The ecological and biological processes of the land, plants, animals, nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all examined and incorporated into a productive, functional Permaculture System. Elements in each system are viewed in relation to other elements, and the outputs of one element become the input of another. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for though proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. Within permaculture systems, work is minimized, “wastes” becomes resources, productivity and yields increase, and the environment is restored. Permaculture aims to create stable productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with the people not only for today but also the future.
What is the difference between Organic Farming and Permaculture?
The Permaculture garden is more than an organic garden.
- It is also responsible for its waste, it aims not to pollute the surrounding environment i.e. with either excess nitrogen into the water systems or weed seed into any natural systems.
- It uses designto minimise the gardeners chores and energy input. Repeatative, hard work is the joy of few permaculturalists.
- It aims to imitate nature. Visually this is the most noticeable difference between organic gardening and permaculture. In permaculture gardens (home systems is the more wholistic term) there is rarely bare soil, the conservation of soil and water is a high priority. There is a more complex use of space. Plants are allowed to set seed, are interplanted for pest control. You will be unlikely to see plants in rows
- The permaculture system aims to harvest and maximise water, sun and other natural energies (e.g. wind, dust, leaves, bird droppings)
- The permaculture system aims to provide nutritious food and habitat for people AND native animals and birds.