“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.” Bill Mollison (from the permaculture.net website)
The basic concept of permaculture is to examine and follow nature’s patterns so that we work with nature to create a sustainable way of living – ultimately providing us with a way of ensuring that we sustain human activities in harmony with nature’s in future.
This idea of designing human systems based on natural ecosystems was originally about sustainable food production. Bill Mollison christened it perma, as in permanent or sustainable, and culture, meaning not only agriculture, but broader culture as well. So, simply put, permaculture is a system for designing sustainable human environments.
This idea of “permanence” is not about everything staying the same, it’s about creating stability through biodiversity (e.g. biodiverse agriculture) and thriving communities.
Gardening and land stewardship remain the experiences that most people associate with permaculture – i.e. taking organic gardening and farming practices beyond traditional ideas and integrating the garden and home to create a sustainable lifestyle. Permaculture is recognised as a mechanism for maximising yields and environmental benefits, while reducing labour and costs, but gardening and agriculture is only one area that this applies to.
Since the days of Bill Mollison deriving the term, the philosophy of permaculture has evolved as an ethical design science to define solutions for economic and social systems and even integrate with spirituality and personal growth.
Internationally renowned permaculture educator, consultant and practitioner, Geoff Lawton, tells us more about how permaculture is being used to direct positive action by taking knowledge of natural systems and using that connectivity to provide endlessly enriched solutions that serve the needs of humanity.