Permaculture is an amazing, energy efficient approach to sustainable living in harmony with Nature, we utterly rely and depend on. It is very simple and complex at the same time. Following permaculture principles one can be an artist of “giving by not loosing and receiving by not taking”, a wonderful dance between the “self” and “the other”, “humans” and “nature”.
So what is permaculture?
You will find great texts and videos on the internet, so now, this is only a little bit from Wikipedia. Following our website, we hope that you will be able to have a sense of the organic development flow, that is so much part of permaculture.
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture”  but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture,” as it was seen 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, environmental design, construction and integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.
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.
Twelve design principles
Twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:
- Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
Look at this picture (click for larger image). It was taken in Hungary in an already well established permaculture garden. What you can see from a permaculture perspective:
- There are layers of plants to maximize yield and biodiversity (fruit trees, shrubs, raspberry, herbs, etc.)
- There is a small artificial pond (made of a recycled tracktor tire) to improve the microclimate and also provide habitat for insects (eg. dragonfly) and amphibians (eg. frogs). There is fish in the pond that eats mosquito larvae, and when the pond is well established you do not have mosquito flying out from it.
- It is also a human habitat that provides food and relaxing/meditating space for us, humans.
When we use the permaculture approach, we create a(n eco)system in which everything has multiple functions and each function interferes with other functions, generating beautiful synergies. This is one of the key elements of very high efficiency, achieved by permaculture.