What is Permaculture?


“Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”

-Graham Bell, The Permaculture Way

“Permaculture design combines a set of coherent and interlinked principles, an energy- and resource-conserving attention to relative placement of elements, and, unlike most other design systems, a set of ethical guidelines.”

-Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden

“It is our collective responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members and to preserve and tend to the environment in which weall live” 

-Dalai Lama


Permaculture Ethics:
  1. Care for the Earth
  2. Care for the People
  3. Share the surplus

The following principles of Permaculture appear in David Holmgren’s Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:

Observe and interact – By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

Catch and store energy – By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, 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 nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour 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 producing 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.

Below is the Permaculture flower Adapted from: Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability


“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children”

-Bill Mollison, 1990

Helpful Resources:

Permaculture Principles – David Holmgren

The Permaculture Research Institute of Austrailia  

The Center for Pattern Literacy – Toby Hemenway