Permaculture is a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere. It incorporates knowlege, tools and resources to create a regenerative, self-substaining society in both the physical and social sense.





WHAT IS PERMACULTURE?

It is understood as the design and life philosophy of working with nature and not against her. Permaculture creates human systems inspired in natural ecosystems , from which it draws inspiration for design and patterns to follow in the construction of environmentally sound, self-reliant spaces with the goal of meeting human needs.

Permaculture tries to simulate natural conditions with farming purposes. It consists on taking the natural processes found in ecosystems and emulating them in a controlled environment; in order to make the latter self-sustaining. Well applied, it could provide food for people around the world with a low maintenance cost and very little impact on the environment. In short, permaculture is a positive, effective solution to the current world crisis, in which climate change, hunger and poverty are running rampant.



[caption id="attachment_5421" align="aligncenter" width="500"]permaculture Claire Gregory's permaculture garden: a suburban permaculture garden with different layers of vegetation - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Permaculture was originally conceived as "permanent agriculture" and focused on methods to ensure sustainable food production. Imagine having a piece of land and developing a way for it to produce healthy fruits and vegetables with little maintenance and use of resources. That's what the original permaculture wanted to achieve.

Nowadays, the term is defined as the mixture of three words: "permanent", "agriculture" and "culture", after the dynamic nature of the movement opened space for the inclusion of economic and social systems.

Current-day permaculture encompasses taking the dream of sustainable food production from the privacy of backyards and homes and into the public, at the community level. It seeks the normalization and legalization of permaculture systems so all people can collaborate in the development of a society commited to fair-share, conscious living.

WHERE DOES PERMACULTURE START?

Permaculture as it is known today started in the 1970s in Tasmania, Australia, with the work of Bill Mollison.

Mollison, an Australian ecologist and University of Tasmania professor had spent many years in direct contact with nature. His career as a wildlife ecologist had led him to observe the workings of natural ecosystems and the sustained, man-made destruction of them —so he decided to come up with a solution. And he thought said solution was to incorporate the patterns he had seen in natural ecosystems into his daily life.



This should be a no-brainer, for both Mollison and humanity in general. Natural systems, such as forests and wetlands are self-reliant and sustainable. They work as a well-oiled machine to meet their energy requirements and dispose of their waste, and every part of the ecosystem matters. Mollison applied these insights in the design and development of sustainable agricultural systems.

Later on, in that same decade, he and his student David Holmgren wote and published books explaining Mollison's ideas. The books then turned into a design manual and courses and by the 1990s, permaculture was a well-known field in several countries, and was spreading through the United States. Today, permaculture is practiced by people all around the world, who learn it at workshops and permaculture design courses and later implement it in their own homes and as a lifestyle.

WERE THEY THE FIRST TO THINK ABOUT PERMACULTURE?

Well, no. Permaculture as an organized philosophy was brought in and then expanded by Mollison and Holmgren, however, they were not the first to think about sustainable food production. In fact, their work has been influenced by that of previous authors, such as Joseph Russell's "Tree Crops: A permanent agriculture", Toyohiko Kagawa's work on forest cultivation in Japan and P.A. Yeomans' "Water for Every Farm". Further influences are Routh Stout and Esther Deans' no-dig gardening and Masanobu Fukuoka's direct drilling natural agriculture.

ARE PERMACULTURE PRACTITIONERS THE ONLY ONES WHO USE PERMACULTURE?

Absolutely not! While they are the ones who make a conscious choice and effort to use permaculture in their every day life, heaps of people use permaculture without realizing. Heathcote.org (W/D) cites: "concerned environmentalists, organic gardeners, conservationists, land use planners, urban activists, recyclers, indigenous people" among others as unaware permaculture practitioners.

BRANCHES IN THE PERMACULTURE DISCIPLINE

However easy and low-maintenance permaculture may seem, there are some branches in the permaculture world necessary to make it real. The main ones are ecological design, enviromental engineering, environment design, construction, and integrated management of water resources. We will explain them all in this order; maybe there is a permacultural farmer inside of us and we haven’t realized about it!







AN ETHICAL WIN-WIN RELATIONSHIP

Permaculture is not just a farming technique, it is a culture with social features and certain ethical aspects which are key to its survival. These aspects are: Taking care of the earth, taking care of the people; and fair share.



 Based on the three ethical principles of permaculture, a list of 12 permaculture principles were developed to guide new and old practitioners

Based on these three ethical rules, twelve principles were created to guide our journey into the complex natural and social realities that we explore when implementing a sustainable life system. The twelve principles of permaculture are listed below.

The 12 Permaculture Principles