Permaculture is a design system for creating habitats that meet our needs, while regenerating our surroundings. Permaculture seeks to establish a “permanent” system of “agriculture” that is rooted in a conscious and ethical design process, and has the ability to be sustained indefinitely. A permanent agriculture, based on ethics, is the cornerstone of a permanent culture.
Permaculture is used to create maximally productive landscapes by creating beneficial connections between different elements like water, plants, animals, and buildings. Using ecological design to create landscapes that mimic nature, we can provide abundant food, water, and medicine while regenerating the surrounding ecosystem.
Permaculture is based on three ethics: earth care, people care, and fair share.
The following resources are some of the best places to understand the foundations of permaculture.
'What Is Permaculture?'
by Jerome Osentowski and Sandy Cruz
Courtesy of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute
'The Essence of Permaculture'
by David Holmgren
Courtesy of Richard Telford, David Holmgren, and David Arnold
Video Introductions to Permaculture
''What is Permaculture?' Presentation'
by Steve Gabriel
Courtesy of Steve Gabriel, Cornell University
Books to Get You Started In Permaculture
The first book published in the US in a generation to embrace ecological design of the home landscape, Gaia’s Garden is a snapshot of Permaculture in America at the turn of the century. Toby Hemenway is a scientist, trained in genetics, who shares with his readers his rapturous enjoyment of the garden.
Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening—which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants—can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including: Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure Catching and conserving water in the landscape Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods
This revised and updated edition also features a new chapter on urban permaculture, designed especially for people in cities and suburbs who have very limited growing space. Whatever size yard or garden you have to work with, you can apply basic permaculture principles to make it more diverse, more natural, more productive, and more beautiful. Best of all, once it’s established, an ecological garden will reduce or eliminate most of the backbreaking work that’s needed to maintain the typical lawn and garden.
The basic argument for permanent agriculture: how to feed and house yourself in any climate with the least use of land, energy, and repetitive labor. Author Bill Mollison is one of the original creators of the permaculture system. Topics in this book include:
– Energy-efficient site analysis, planning and design methods
– House placement and design for template, dryland and tropical regions
– Urban permaculture: garden layouts, land access and community funding systems
– Using fences, trellis, greenhouse and shadehouse to best effect
– Chicken and pig forage systems; tree crops and pasture integration for stock
– Orchards and home woodlots for temperate, arid and tropical climates
– Permaculture gardens: energy-saving designs and techniques
– How to influence microclimate around the house and garden
– Large section on selected plant species lists, with climate tolerance, heights and uses