Permaculture shows us the path to a backyard revolution

Friday, April 22, 2011 by: Isaac Harkness
Tags: permaculture, gardening, health news

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(NaturalNews) People nowadays are feeling like their lives are spinning out of control. They worry about being able to provide the necessities for their families as food and fuel prices soar and out of control inflation looms on the horizon. Many are almost totally disconnected from nature and that which sustains them. There is a rapidly growing and revolutionary worldwide movement of citizens taking steps that lead them out of dependence on the system and to a life of healthy re-connection and nourishment. This is the permaculture movement.

There are many definitions for the holistic design system known as permaculture and the word itself derives from the combinations of permanent culture and permanent agriculture. As its legendary co-founder Bill Mollison puts it, "it is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people - providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order."

The provision of food, shelter, water, energy and waste management are contained within permaculture design. Pause for a moment and imagine the freedom and empowerment that is possible by providing these things yourself or within your local neighborhood and area. One of the most important aspects of permaculture is the rebuilding of community. The goal of permaculture is to re-localize the control and provision of those things necessary to human life, and to do it in an ethical and ecological way.

Permaculture is the first design system in history to be based upon ethics. These ethics are Earthcare, Peoplecare and Fairshare. These ethics can be applied to all aspects of life, not only design. The Earthcare ethic asks if the action will harm, maintain or improve the ecology where it takes place. Peoplecare holds that the action does not have negative effects for other people and seeks to build healthy communities. Fairshare means that a resource is not being exploited for the gain of only a few and that surpluses are not hoarded.

From these ethics the twelve Permaculture Principles have been further developed by David Holmgren. These principles are the basis for designing systems that require a minimum of maintenance and inputs and that form closed-loop interactions. The output of one element in the system becomes the input for another element. In this way waste is drastically reduced or even largely eliminated.

Permaculture Research Institute of Australia:
David Holmgren's Permaculture Principles:
Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, Tagari Publications, 1988
Toby Hemenway, Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture 2nd Edition, Chelsea Green, 2009
Wikipedia Article: Permaculture

About the author

A teacher and permaculture designer, the author has traveled the world seeking and creating sustainable systems for self-sufficiency. Visit North of Superior Permaculture at

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