Permaculture

“Permaculture is a word we have coined for an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to [humans]. It is, in essence, a complete agricultural ecosystem, modeled on existing but simpler examples.”
— Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, originators of Permaculture. From Permaculture One – A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements, A Tigari Community book, 1978, pg. 1.

“A more current definition of permaculture, which reflects the expansion of focus implicit in Permaculture One, is ‘Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture.’ Thus the permaculture vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.”
— David Holmgren, What is permaculture? https://holmgren.com.au/about-permaculture, 2016

 

The late musician and poet, Gil Scott Heron, is famous for his refrain “the revolution will not be televised.” Permaculturists are by nature revolutionaries and theirs is a quiet, expanding, global subversion. Permaculturists are radicals in the truest sense of the word: a substantial turn-around. They effectively apply themselves to bring about significant change that specifically challenges and actively supplants the supremacy of the present, death-spiral paradigm, often simply by planting a few trees where once were none or teaching others how and why to plant and reap. In its place they offer a paradigm that cultivates permanent human culture, in balance with natural systems, programmed for longevity and oriented towards creating the conditions for a kind of spirit-positive quality of life not experienced by “civilized” human beings in modern times. And they offer working examples that anyone with an open mind and a shred of compassion can see cry out to be adapted and re-created in as many places around the world as possible, as soon as possible.

Permaculture co-founder, the late Bill Mollison (1928 – 2016) is credited with saying “though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” As a whole, humanity has much to be embarrassed about. Permaculturists, for the most part, are very busy implementing those solutions, in whatever locale they find themselves, intentionally constructing regenerative habitat, not just for humans, but for all the planet’s species. Building regenerative habitat is how nature does it on her own, and it’s how permaculturists do it by conscious, educated intention. The same way an organic farmer builds her soil so that the future is more abundant than the past, permaculture builds systems that improve the land’s ability to sustain life and culture. Taking off from examples in nature, it is possible recirculate energy and resources and provide for future generations instead of stealing from them.

It is to a great extent quiet work; daily work. Permaculturists work to counteract ecosystem degradation by replacing extractive/consumptive social, economic and infrastructural constructs with simpler solutions. The goal being to reduce the size of the foot whose “footprint” is responsible for so many troubling global trends like climate change, income inequality, violence, political corruption, food insecurity… With permaculture, things will even start to grow in the footprint, healing the wound. What was taken out gets put back. What was waste gets redeemed. The solutions are implemented on a cellular level, so to speak, by thousands of permaculture practitioners laboring in localities spread around the globe. The work is revolutionary and, to a great extent, quite mundane. It doesn’t attract much press and that is a shame, because if more people learned what permaculture is, studied it and began applying it, the more regenerative habitat would begin to be cultivated in pockets around the globe like a growing mycelium of eco-salvation. Luckily, information sharing on the Internet makes up for mainstream media’s inattention (see resources below) and permaculture’s popularity grows every day. Permaculture holds the promise of manifesting a global in-fill of consciously sane human habitation; of overgrowing the detritus of the passing extractive age with a beautiful, lasting overlay of abundance, peace and social harmony.

Permaculture has made the transition in these transition times. Permaculture is transition. Permaculture is what exists after transition. This revolution might not be televised, but there are more people learning every day how solutions exist that are within reach even of those with limited means. Importantly, they’re learning how coming to decide on the correct solution to apply in any given situation requires a permaculturist to study the craft, become familiar with the permaculture tool box and how to apply the “Permaculture Ethics & Principles” to decision-making. The permaculture movement has embraced the Permaculture Design Course (PDC, taken in-person or on-line) as its primary conduit to transmit the how’s and why’s of permaculture to upcoming generations. A PDC, often taken multiple times from different instructors, is an intensive training course covering botany, energy, economics, geography, ecology, architecture & construction, water, agriculture, social dynamics and more based on the literature and experience amassed by the permaculture movement since its origins in the late 20th century. The vast selection of permaculture literature has titles being added almost every day, expanding the permaculture knowledge base. Permaculture communities around the world also stage permaculture “convergences” that bring together permaculturists from their respective regions at gatherings for face-to-face skill-sharing, learning workshops, networking and community building.

Here are some resources to assist you in exploring permaculture. Let us know how you are putting permaculture to work where you live.

Videos

Geoff Lawton On-line – Geoff Lawton, an early adopter of permaculture who is quite active today, has carefully selected 9 videos—nearly 6.5 hours—that give the what, why, and how of permaculture. If you’re a complete beginner, Geoff will take you by the hand and start from square one. And if you’re a seasoned permie, there is more than enough to keep things interesting—including some never-before-released footage.

Sepp Holzer’s Mountain Permaculture Farm – Featured On: http://thepermaculturezone.com – Sepp Holzer’s son Josef walks us through his family farm called the Krameterhof. Fish ponds, productive terraces, fruit trees and grazing animals characterize the lush landscape in one of Europe’s oldest and most well established permaculture farms. German with English subtitles.

Bill Mollison on Permaculture – This is a short segment of Bill Mollison speaking about Permaculture. It was edited from a much longer video that can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUr4uPe9WBk.

International Permaculture Conference & Convergence, Cuba, December 2013 – A compilation of video from the IPC MediaGuild (Ra Sol,Haig Born, Jais Hammerlund, Volkmar Geiblinger, Deva Presence) and images posted by attendees.

Toby Hemenway: How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization – Hemenway is a frequent teacher, consultant and lecturer on permaculture and ecological design throughout the U.S. and other countries. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Natural Home, Whole Earth Review and American Gardener. He is an adjunct professor in the School of Graduate Education at Portland State University, a Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and a biologist consultant for the Biomimicry Guild.

Toby Hemenway: Redesigning Civilization — with Permaculture – Modern agriculture, industry and finance all extract more than they give back, and the Earth is starting to show the strain. How did we get in this mess and what can we do to help our culture get back on track? The ecological design approach known as permaculture offers powerful tools for the design of regenerative, fair ways to provide food, energy, livelihood, and other needs while letting humans share the planet with the rest of nature. This presentation will give you insight into why our culture has become fundamentally unsustainable, and offers ecologically based solutions that can help create a just and sustainable society. This is the sequel to Toby’s popular talk, “How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and The Planet, but not Civilization.

Resources

Deep Green Permaculture – linking people, food and Nature

Friends of the Trees Society (Michael Pilarski is an early permaculture adopter and long-time permaculture educator in North America.)

Geoff Lawton Online (Geoff was an early adopter of permaculture who is quite active today.)

Holmgren Design – permaculture vision and innovation (David Holmgren is co-originator with Bill Mollison of the permaculture concept.)

Holzer Permaculture U.S. – Holzer AgroEcology (Sepp Holzer is a world-reknown permaculture practitioner from the Austrian Alps – where he grows lemons among other things.)

Itinerant Permaculture (‘Itinerant’ – adjective – Traveling from place to place, most often related to labour or a trade; e.g. itinerant farm worker)

North American Permaculture Convergence

Permaculture Activist Magazine

Permaculture Institute | Training Sustainability Practitioners

Permaculture magazine

Permaculture Magazine, North America

Permaculture News, Information, Forums, Courses

Permaculture Research Institute, Australia

Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution — An Interview with Bill Mollison By Scott London (adapted from the NPR radio series “Insight & Outlook.”)

Permies.com – Permaculture and homesteading goofballs (Paul Wheaton)

Sepp Holzer (Sepp Holzer is a world-reknown permaculture practitioner from the Austrian Alps – where he grows lemons among other things.)

Simplify – a guide to living simply by Eric Roxas

Tagari Publications (Intentional community-based publishing company that published the first permaculture books.)

Toby Hemenway (Toby Hemenway is the author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. His new book on urban permaculture, The Permaculture City, was released in July, 2015.)

Treeyo Permaculture | Creative Human Interaction with Nature

Wikipedia on Permaculture

Worldwide Permaculture Network

Permaculture Facebook Pages

Friends of the Trees Society (Michael Pilarski is an early permaculture adopter and long-time permaculture educator in North America.)

North American Permaculture – Community

North American Permaculture – Public

Open Source Permaculutre

Permaculture Activist

Permaculture and Local Sustainability

Permaculture Magazine

Permaculture Magazine North America