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Permaculture Beginnings

Updated on September 12, 2012

A Place To Begin

Permaculture has been spreading across the world for about fifty years now and still spreading. When I tell people I have studied permaculture, both a 72 hour introduction course and a 72 hour design certificate course, they look at me with a puzzled expression so the next step is for me to define permaculture for them.

By the way I took my courses through Permaculture Visions and recommend it for anyone who, for whatever, reason cannot travel to a course and spend up to 2 weeks away from your home base.

I define permaculture as a nature inspired holistic design method that can be used to grow food, create businesses and build community. In fact, it has the ability to do all three at the same time which I find most impressive.

It is important for anyone interested in studying permaculture to understand that you do not have to be growing all or even any of yoru own food to be applying permaculture principals to your daily life.

How do you do that: apply permaculture design to daily living?

First, you need to understand the permaculture ethics, as it is through your efforts to carry out or conduct your day-to-day activities so that these activities embrace the permaculture ethics that you take the first step along the permaculture path.

The Three Permaculture Ethics as many articulate them:

1- care for the earth

2- care for people

3- Sharing the surplus.

Okay, let us take a step back and look at how permaculture came into being. The word permaculture was a co-creation of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Both Holmgren and Mollison were concerned about the effects that the agriculture system was having on the environment and sought a way to improve society’s ability to feed itself.

Permaculture is formed from the words permanent and agriculture. As the practice of permaculture developed it also came to mean permanent culture, however, either way it is still very much related to putting food on the table.

Now let us look at the situation where a person does not have a piece of property around their home where they can grow food, an apartment dweller, for example. How do they put permaculture design into practice?

The first step is to examine your energy usages; do you turn off the DVD player and TV at night, if they are plugged into a power bar, you can unplug that and eliminate the phantom power usages these devices sue just to be instant on. You can replace light bulbs with compact fluorescents and be sure to turn off lights when leaving a room.

If you have a window that gets six hours of sunlight, grow some culinary herbs to flavour yourr meals.

If there is a community garden in your neighbourhood, join it, check at the local municipal building or perhaps the public library they may be able to help you locate one.

If you have the energy and time start a community garden.

Is there a farmer’s market near you? Yes, then, shop there. Buy as much of your food as you can from locally owned businesses and give some thought about forming a local food buying club.

If you want to share the surplus one way you can do so is when you take advantage of food sales, set aside a percentage of your food purchase and donate that food to a local food program.

If you can you may want to volunteer your time at a local food program or other charity of your choice.

Recycling is another activity that you can do; it is best to think of the four Rs when shopping or better when making a shopping list, First step is to avoid any unnecessary packaging.

The Four Rs are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink. The goal is to keep items out of the landfill and the best way to do that is to not buy them in the first place, then you will not have to be concerned about packaging or what to do when the item is no longer useful.

Composting is another way to reduce garbage and create an useful end product, compost which, you can use in your garden or give to friends who have gardens. A worm composter enables you to compost yoru kitchen scraps indoors all year round and is ideal for apartment dwellers.

If you do have a house with a lawn, then, consider transforming that lawn into a food forest or at least add an organic garden. Keep you lawn area to a minimum and be sure you care for it organically.

Pay attention, observe and interact with your environment. Be informed, be active and be aware.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Kristen Hess 7 years ago

    This is very informative. Thank you for sharing. I really love how you offer different avenues for people to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink and give back to the environment and their communities when their situation doesn't enable them to do every possible thing. It's better to do something than nothing at all.

    On that note, I'd like to share something that I've been using to compost instead of a worm compost, the CompoKeeper ( In my home town, Boulder, CO, fortunately the city's recycling service includes compost pick-up. Having lived in rental properties for the last several years I could not grow my own forest garden so I was happy to give my compost to the city. Even though I'm not directly using the compost or giving it to someone I know, I still feel great about giving back to my community through composting.

    Personally, I find a worm compost to be a hassle and too gross to use at home. For a while I used other, still inconvenient methods which I was pleased with UNTIL I found the CompoKeeper. This product makes composting indoors fun, easy and mess free. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in a situation where growing a forest garden of your own isn't possible or using a worm compost doesn't seem appropriate.

    I hope this is helpful. Blessings and stay true to the three permaculture ethics.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Welcome aboard.

  • MaritimeGem profile image

    MaritimeGem 7 years ago from Gaspe Quebec Canada

    Howdy neighbor! great hub, even figured out how to share it (new hubber)

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Glad it helped.Thanks for dropping by.

  • cally2 profile image

    Paul Callaghan 8 years ago from Paraparaumu, New Zealand

    Great hub Bob, I'm just at the beginnings of learning about permaculture and this helped put a few things in perspective. Cheers.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    A very sound philosophy, thanks for dropping by.

  • Montana Farm Girl profile image

    Montana Farm Girl 8 years ago from Northwestern Montana

    Wow, EXCELLENT hub!!! I love learning something new!!!!! I have never heard this term before, and I live it every single!! We strive to live as frugally and earth friendly, as possible each and every day!!! Nothing goes to waste here on our little farm :-).

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks Jerilee and LG, sustainability does indeed play a role. Thank you both for stopping by.

  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

    I've not heard the term before - I think we often call a similar idea sustanability, or sustainable living. It's important we all think about what you've written, great hub.

  • Jerilee Wei profile image

    Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

    Very informative hub! I was familiar with the term permaculture but will have to look into the online class.

  • The Real Tomato profile image

    The Real Tomato 8 years ago


  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Dreams do come true.

  • The Real Tomato profile image

    The Real Tomato 8 years ago

    So glad you wrote about this.  I have dreamed about this (permaculture) very thing for years and didn't know it was already taking place. It is a great solution for so many things but especially for world hunger.

    The second video has great stuff.

    Thank you for sharing

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I a fine and you? Thank you both for dropping by.

  • haynie8253 profile image

    haynie8253 8 years ago from Irvington

    Bob, how are you? This a great Hub. I totally agree with home grown foods. I also grow my own foods. It gives me such an appreciation of nature. To plant a seed and wait for it to harvest is wonderful.

    Thanks again.

  • PeacefulWmn9 profile image

    PeacefulWmn9 8 years ago from Michigan

    I miss growing my own food! I do love to go to the local farmer's market, though. I didn't know what "permaculture" meant until now, but I was familiar with its principals. Thank you!


  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • profile image

    Latrelle Ross 8 years ago

    Great hub Bob :) It is so important to share these philosophies with others. Thanks for spreading the word!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome.

  • profile image

    Nolimits Nana 8 years ago


    Great information! I'd never heard the term permaculture, but realize I've been using aspects of it for years! I'll be looking into Permaculture Visions.

    Thanks again for keeping us informed.

    Nicki Goff