Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Permaculture is an approach to agriculture and human settlements that emphasizes the harmonious coexistence of all life, especially humans with the earth and it is ecological systems. It aims at a sustainable design, which strengthens ecological relationships in rural areas. Those who follow this approach are called perm culturists.
This introduction will discuss what permaculture is, what its goals are, as well as talk about how it can help society evolve in socially conscious ways.
What is a Permaculture?
The word "permaculture" comes from the two words "permanent culture." It has been used to describe a holistic approach to planting and growing food that will maintain the health of the planet and its people for generations to come. The idea of permanent culture was initially inspired by the ancient Greeks, who combined agronomy with architecture and ecology. This idea was then taken up by anthropologist David Holmgren in the early 1980s.
This holistic worldview recognizes that each part of the planet is interconnected to all other parts. It also encourages the use of sustainable materials, methods, and processes for creating a healthy environment. The goal in permaculture design is to be able to adapt to changes in conditions without having to change the design itself. This means not only not fixing what you broke, but being able to fix a broken system if necessary (for example, if it was damaged by an earthquake).
Permaculture is not a linear process, but a system that can be used in different ways to suit a particular need. The principles are thought of as ethics and guidelines or the rules for this system. Some people believe permaculture looks at design from a very large-scale perspective, while others feel it also looks at smaller dimensions such as what to plant and grow in their own backyard.
Permaculture design is also seen as a way of contributing to the evolution of society. It encourages us to consider how our actions affect others and to think beyond just ourselves. This connection between our sense of self-worth as individuals and healthy earth is explained by David Holmgren in his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (New Society Publishers, pg. 6):
"…the core concept of permaculture is that the ethics of care of people and planet are inseparably linked…Permaculture, therefore, is not about how to get your own back on nature. It accepts that there can be only one dominant culture in any one place, and it is up to that culture to decide whether its survivability is best served through aggressive competition or by cooperating with other cultures. The ethics of care, applied to the human relationship to the animal kingdom and the rest of natural creation, is therefore about coexistence, not competition."
The most significant aspect of permaculture is its belief in sustainable human development. They do not believe in shunning modern technology; instead, they believe that we should use it wisely and be careful with how it is applied and used. In this way, people can look forward to a diverse future for themselves and their grandchildren.
Permaculture began in the 1970s and 1980s as a movement in the Australian outback. Practitioners of permaculture started to develop designs that would combine the growing of food with a natural ecosystem. These designs were then called "permaculture systems" or "permanent agriculture." Other people eventually took notice of this approach to design, including Bill Mollison, who was asked by UNEP to help train people from developing countries in sustainable agriculture practices.
Mollison eventually traveled the world and shared his knowledge on how to grow food without needing to use pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. He co-authored a book Molecules to Motion: A design sourcebook for sustainable architecture and engineering (Elsevier, ISBN 0-444-88044-9) with fellow permaculture designer David Holmgren.
Many environmentalists have embraced permaculture as a way to encourage sustainable growth in rural areas. This approach also has a number of applications in urban and suburban areas.
The ethics of Permaculture
The ethics on which permaculture builds are the same ethics practiced by indigenous people, such as respecting the earth and its resources, making your own tools from natural materials, and being creative in your work.
Respect: The respect ethic teaches us to look at the world around us with awe instead of taking it for granted. The idea is that we should be grateful for the abundance of resources that are freely available to us. The ethics also teach us to leave space between our living spaces and those of other creatures. This way, all species can live in peace with each other.
Recycle: This ethic encourages keeping natural resources in a lasting state, like building materials and food. It also teaches us to be creative with things we no longer need. The idea is that everything is profitable, even if it looks worthless at first glance.
Empower: The empowering ethic teaches that we should not treat people as objects. We should respect them as individuals with their own interests and beliefs. The idea also stresses the importance of listening to others instead of just acting without considering their desires or needs.
Permaculture ethics can be applied to all aspects of human endeavors, including agriculture and home and garden design. If we think of ourselves as part of nature, then we should respect it and work with it instead of simply being destructive towards it. Just like small natural ecosystems, our homes can be designed to provide essentials for life without depending on the resources of the outside world. If we are able to provide our own clean water, food, and energy sources, then we can reduce the impact we have on the environment around us.
Principles of Permaculture
1. Observe and interact: By stepping outside for a while and just observing nature, you will be able to see patterns in different ecosystems. These patterns are important knowledge that will help you come up with an appropriate design for yourself. Observation also helps you see how your actions can affect other organisms in your habitat.
2. Catch and store energy: Like all living things, we need to collect energy from the sun and store it for later use. The best way to do this is by raising food for ourselves and any other organisms living with us. By growing our own food, we can reduce our dependence on the outside world and use its resources more wisely.
3. Obtain a yield: When we start to grow food (and other outputs) in an enclosed space, it is called a system or a garden. The idea is to use the space effectively so that we can get the most from it. This means getting more than just food out of our gardens. It also means taking into consideration all living organisms living with us and their needs and desires.
4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: When designing a permaculture system, there are three main categories of things to consider: people, plants, and animals. In each of these categories, there are things that can regulate growth and prevent it from getting out of control. If your garden's ecosystem is well-balanced, then you will be able to have a surplus of food and other needed outputs without causing damage to the environment around you.
5. Use and value renewable resources and services: By using renewable resources wisely, we can continue to use them as long as we need them. These include natural cycles like rainwater and sun energy.
6. Produce no waste: Cleaning and repairing should be done at the same time. We should use spent materials in other ways, such as composting them.
7. Design from patterns to details: It is important to take a holistic view of our situation when designing an ecosystem. By using the big picture, we can avoid wasting resources and causing unnecessary environmental damage. The first step is to learn about basic design principles common to all ecosystems, such as dominant plants and soil types. After we know those, we can begin to create our own designs.
8. Integrate rather than segregate: When it comes to a permaculture system, there is no such thing as waste. Waste is, in fact, an input for something else. In this way, even the things we dispose of can be used in other ways around us. For example, one of the things we dispose of most often is food waste. This might seem like a problem since it takes up space in our garbage cans and landfills.
9. Use small and slow solutions: Permaculture uses many small, slow solutions instead of a few large, complex ones. It does this by using different plants, animals, and small tools to do various tasks around the ecosystem.
10. Use and value diversity: Diversity in an ecosystem provides stability for it. This is because no one plant can support all the processes needed to keep an ecosystem functioning smoothly. Diversity also helps prevent a major disaster from wiping out large amounts of the population in case of a catastrophe.
11. Provide human services: Permaculture is a philosophy of sharing, which means we should provide for each other instead of relying on outside supplies or resources. In this way, it is possible to achieve greater community consciousness and build interdependence in our surroundings.
12. Learn from mistakes and failures: The world's highest mountains have an economy that works through the use of snow and water. The residents of these areas have learned to adapt to the harsh environment around them by practicing permaculture techniques that they themselves developed over time.
Human Dominated Ecosystem
Permaculture is a philosophy of working with nature instead of against it. This means decreasing human efforts to produce more and more products and instead focusing on what nature has to offer. The goal of permaculture is to create a self-sustainable system that does not affect the environment around it, but benefits from it. In addition, the ecosystem must be large enough to supply all the needs of its inhabitants.
Permaculture As a Global Design Principle
Permaculture is a very simplified way of looking at a complex concept. It can be demonstrated using five elements:
This principle attempts to show how the different pieces of permaculture work together, and how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The "zones" are distinguished by how they interact with each other. For example, the center circle represents where people live, while the outer perimeter represents production areas.
Permaculture has also been used in biofuel and is being used to grow food in areas where pesticides are not allowed. It has been adopted by a number of different organizations around the world. The Permaculture Association International was founded in 1979 as an international nonprofit organization that promotes permaculture practices. The David Holmgren Permaculture Institute (DHP) has also brought together many countries to help them create sustainable landscapes and systems.
The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia is a nonprofit organization that helps farmers and homeowners learn to grow organic food. There are other organizations that provide technical assistance, such as the Australian Network for Sustainable Agriculture, the Earth Council, The Centro de Agricultura Integral (CAI), and the Institute for Ecological Agriculture (IAE).
Permaculture Design Courses
Permaculture courses can be found online at any number of sites. The Permacultureschool.com site offers five-day courses for $195, with twelve additional short online courses available for $26 each.
The Permaculture Institute of Australia also has an eight-day training course, with aftercare available as well. The cost is $2,500. All the instructors have experienced perm culturists and can help you navigate the course material so that you can apply what you learn to the real world.
Permaculture design can be applied to almost any industry or area of interest. It is a system that is very flexible and scalable, meaning it can be designed for large or small-scale use. Permaculture is widely accepted as a way of approaching our environment, and it offers sustainable solutions to many problems that face us today.
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