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What is Permaculture?

 

Permanent Culture

The word Permaculture was coined in 1978 by Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist, and one of his students, David Holmgren. It is a contraction of “permanent” and “agriculture”, or “permanent” and “culture”. According to Bill Mollison, the originator of the Permaculture design system, “Permaculture principles focus on thoughtful designs for small-scale intensive systems, which are labor efficient and which use biological resources instead of fossil fuels. Designs stress ecological connections and closed energy and material loops. The core of Permaculture is design and the working relationships and connections between all things. Each component in a system performs multiple functions, and each function is supported by many elements. Key to efficient design is observation and replication of natural ecosystems, where designers maximize diversity with polycultures, stress efficient energy planning for houses and settlement, using and accelerating natural plant succession, and increasing the highly productive edge-zones within the system.”

Creating a Permaculture Design

Permaculture is a system of design for creating ecological human habitats and food production systems. It is a land use and community building movement that strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the way we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature.

A central theme in Permaculture is the design of ecological landscapes that produce food. Emphasis is placed on multi-use plants, cultural practices such as sheet mulching and trellising, and the integration of animals to recycle nutrients and graze weeds.

However, Permaculture entails much more than just food production. Energy-efficient buildings, waste water treatment, recycling, and land stewardship in general are other important components of Permaculture. More recently, Permaculture has expanded its purview to include economic and social structures that support the evolution and development of more permanent communities. As such, Permaculture design concepts are applicable to urban as well as rural settings, and are appropriate for single households as well as whole farms, villages, towns and cities.