What is permaculture?

February 15, 2021
Category: Regenerative Permaculture

I didn’t know what permaculture was until about a year ago but once I started researching it, I started seeing it and hearing it everywhere! It is a concept that has been around for decades but it is recently gaining more attention as a lot of people are spreading these principles through their homesteading and gardening blogs and youtube channels.

Permaculture encompasses so much that I will try to boil it down and generally define it here. Most people learn about it initially as a style of gardening that works with nature instead of in contrast with nature. Currently, our standard systems for agriculture and consumption are actually degrading the earth rather than renewing it. Permaculture is a set of principles and practices to design sustainable human settlements. The original term came from “permanent culture” or “permanent agriculture” and was coined by two Australians – Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. The idea was born when Mollison was observing marsupials in the Tasmanian rain forest. He was inspired by the abundance and rich inter-connectedness of the ecosystem and had a vision for building these types of systems everywhere (urban, suburban, rural). Just as Mollison observed the marsupials, permaculture principles, ethics and decision-making protocols are drawn from observing the natural world and its patterns and then implementing them into our own lives and living situations.

When we learn how to emulate the natural world and work with, rather than against, we can create a rich human habitats that sustain and regenerate the rest of the natural world.

Systems (homes, gardens, agriculture, lifestyles, etc.) that are built with the mind-set aspire to the diversity, resilience and dynamic sustainability of natural systems. So, permaculture goes so far beyond just gardening and encompasses all of the ecosystems of life.

Followers of permaculture follow these 3 values:

  • People care – making sure the ecosystem works for people
  • Earth care – making sure the ecosystem promotes nature and the sustainability of the earth
  • Fair share – sharing our abundance (food, knowledge, seeds, plants, etc.) so that more people can have access to a healthier/better way of life

General Principles of Permaculture:

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch & Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Feedback
  5. Use & Value Renewables
  6. Produce No Waste
  7. Design From Patterns to Details
  8. Integrate, Don’t Segregate
  9. Use Small, Slow Solutions
  10. Use and Value Diversity
  11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal
  12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

I’ll try to go into these principles in more detail in a future post but for now, here’s a great overview of these principles.



Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

The Forest Garden Greenhouse by Jerome Osentowski

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