Permaculture is a recognised method for transition to a sustainable culture. It was created by Alternative Noble Peace Prize winner Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Permaculture stands for permanent culture. It’s a design system for creating productive, sustainable and ecological environments by which we can exist on the earth in such a way that we don’t continually destroy life on earth.
This holistic design system imitates nature where possible, taps into the wisdom of traditional and Indigenous farming systems and uses modern technology when appropriate with the objective of creating sustainable communities.
Permaculture is an action orientated concept that is changing the way people think and act towards Planet Earth. This method can be used anywhere, whether you live in a city flat, suburbia, rural farms, in community spaces, industrial premises or educational establishments. It will make you more resourceful and self-reliant, a process of empowerment.
Permaculture principles are offered to help us get from A to B with our design and systems thinking. David Holmgren has graciously offered a free download “Essence of Permaculture” which summarises the concepts and principles.
Principles of Permaculture
- Everything is connected. Observe and imitate working relationships between plants, animals, people and the land so that all needs are met by the needs of others.
- Each element must perform at least three functions. For example, sunflowers can be planted to collect seeds for you and to feed birds. The sunflower can acts as a windbreak. Brainstorm more connections.
- Efficient energy planning is created by the placement of zones. Place components on the site according to how much you use them.
- Use biological resources to save energy such as animal tractors to keep the grass down, earthworms to deal with scraps and leftover lunches.
- Catch and store energy before it disappears into the environment. For example use water tanks or dams to store water for the dry season.
- Design intensive, small scale systems that will evolve into perennial and self-seeding crops to food forest.
- Stack your plants and create diversity. The more diverse your biomass, the more confused the predators. Create guilds such as the three sisters (corn, beans and squash) and use vertical spaces.
- Mimic patterns in nature. Integrate spirals, swirls and circles in your gardens and watering systems. Nature never leaves a straight line!
- Turn problems into solutions. Use your imagination, observe the natural system and work with nature to come up with suitable solutions.