What is permaculture?

The term permaculture was developed and 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. 

The word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture", but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture", as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.

It has many branches that include, but are not limited to:

 ecological design

ecological engineering

regenerative design

 environmental design 


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."

The 12 principles of permaculture most commonly referred to are first described by David Holmgren in his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability(2002).

They include:

Observe and Interact

Catch and Store Energy

Obtain a Yield

Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback

Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services

Produce No Waste 

Design From Patterns to Details

Integrate Rather Than Segregate

Use Small and Slow Solutions

Use and Value Diversity

Use Edges and Value the Marginal

 Creatively Use and Respond to Change

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