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Permaculture: An Introduction

Updated on March 13, 2014

An Introduction

Permaculture was coined from the words permanent and agriculture by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s. Both men, Mollison, the professor, and Holmgren, the grad student, where concerned about the environmental damage that industrial agriculture was causing.

Together, they sought to develop a method which would create a self-regulating and therefore sustainable food production system which nurtured the land rather than harming it. Permaculture designers observe and work with Nature rather than attempting to force Nature to fit into a mechanized production system.

Today, many designers, are applying permaculture design to developing communities, project governance and the urban environment.

Permaculture is an ethically based design system for creating sustainable human environments. The permaculture ethics are:

- care for the earth

- care for people

- taking responsibility for personal consumption and production and sharing the surplus.

I was first attracted to permaculture when I read a piece about permaculture ethics. This statement in particular lead me to complete my permaculture design certificate program and is still driving my work: "take responsibility for meeting our own needs and the needs of future generations.

Just take a minute and imagine a world where people take responsibility for what they do and what they consume. Rather than buying items that are produced using toxic materials and tossing away whatever we cannot consumer after the items have been trucked hundreds and thousands of miles from where they were produced to where you bought, you buy food and clothing, for example, that was produced within a few miles of your own home or by you.

Now of course we cannot produce all we need by ourselves nor within our own community. We will have to trade with others but then that is where surplus and the concept of sharing that surplus enters the picture.

Simply put, permaculture is a system design tool. It is a way of

  • 1. looking at a whole system or problem
  • 2. seeing connections between key elements (parts)
  • 3. observing how the parts relate,

Permaculture is a holistic approach that understands that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Close observation of Nature provides us with many insights about the design process. Nature can educate us if we take the time to watch and interact rather than staying indoors with the curtains drawn.

When we employ the ethics and principles of permaculture design to our daily lives we set out on the pathway to freedom and sustainabilityand we can do so in harmony with all around us.



Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks LG,

  • Lady Guinevere profile image

    Debra Allen 9 years ago from West By God

    I was just brought to this hub by CJStone. A wonderful hub indeed and I plan on using this idea for my gardening. You can look at my hub and see the time I am having with it:

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome. Toby's book is most useful.

  • Monica Jenkins profile image

    Monica Jenkins 9 years ago from Northern Illinois, USA

    Great hub - Thank you for writing this! Are you aware of this discussion forum: I just found it and think it is has a load of information for newcomers to the idea and for those well informed already.

    Toby Hemenway has a great book too - Gaia's Garden - which I thought very helpful as an introductory text and practical ideas on how to get started.

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    Brilliant gardening hub as always. But good info. and have to agree,we are certainly not doing the right things in this world. Its a real no win situation that we are leaving for our kids.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    thanks for the kind words.

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Bob! Good one; I sure agree with "take responsibility for meeting our own needs and the needs of future generations".

    super-duper information, and here is hoping from your hub to many many open ears and eyes...

    great hub regards Zsuzsy