Posted on Mar 18, 2013
Perhaps it is spring now as it is here in North America as we write this article, or fall if you are in the southern hemisphere. In either case, as you consider your garden, and what you plan to do with it, a quick review of the ideas behind Permaculture are a worthwhile exercise. The more you review these concepts, and the more you think about them, the more it becomes clearer that these simple ideas make a lot more sense than much of what we commonly hear day-to-day. Imagine retaining a focus on the earth, people and sharing as a core ethic in the company you work for or in the community you share. We do have a choice to live according to our own ethics. Given all the other news regarding climate change and economic uncertainty, a change towards something that works for both you as an individual but also you within community, and in fact the earth's environment makes more sense.
Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained horticultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.
The core ethics of permaculture are:
Think about these core ethics. Why not apply them to your own life? Since the earth is our home, our only home, and we must share it fairly in order to maintain a livable environment, then don't these ethics make sense for all of us? As you apply them despite the "economics" you will no doubt find that the ecology of your life and your community benefits.
Ecological Design as defined by Sim Van Der Ryn encompasses:
So what does ecological design really mean and look like? Take a look at this house that incorporates these principles.
Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks the question, "Where does this element go? How can it be placed for the maximum benefit of the system?" To answer this question, the central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy. Permaculture designs evolve over time by taking into account these relationships and elements and can become extremely complex systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input.
The design principles which are the conceptual foundation of permaculture were derived from the science of systems ecology and study of pre-industrial examples of sustainable land use. Permaculture draws from several disciplines including organic farming, agroforestry, integrated farming, sustainable development, and applied ecology. Permaculture has been applied most commonly to the design of housing and landscaping, integrating techniques such as agroforestry, natural building, and rainwater harvesting within the context of permaculture design principles and theory.
Permaculturists generally regard the following as its 12 design principles: