“Permaculture is a set of design principles centered on whole systems thinking, simulating, or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. It uses these principles in a growing number of fields from regenerative agriculture, rewilding, and community resilience.
The term permaculture was coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education's Department of Environmental Design, and Bill Mollison, senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at University of Tasmania, in 1978. It originally meant "permanent agriculture", but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture", since social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming philosophy.
It has many branches including ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, and construction. Permaculture also includes integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, and regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems.
Mollison has said: "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system."
Examples of permaculture:
- Greening the Desert
- Located in The Dead Sea Valley, Jordan, at 400 meters below sea level, is also the lowest place on earth, so the climate has Mediterranean weather with subtropical heat.
- The site is 3,000 square meters that came as a hard, harsh landscape. It was not the ideal place to settle, but it was an accurate example of what many people have to live with. The challenges included having very little soil, dealing with an overabundance of rock, and metering out only 150-200 mm of rain a year. It was so crucial to capture all the water available and sink it into the landscape, so we developed strategies of water conservation using shade, wind buffering, and production of nitrogen-rich mulch. With these strategies, we’ve established a desert forest garden that has moved into crops, herbs, and small animal husbandry, which also provides site-sourced, natural fertilizer.