Cyclic Opportunity on a Permaculture Site


This is week 14 of our yearlong #freepermaculture course

“Principle of Cyclic Opportunity: Every cyclic event increases the opportunity for yield. To increase cycling is to increase yield. Cycles in nature are diversion routes away from entropic ends-life itself cycles nutrients-giving opportunities for yield, and thus opportunities for species to occupy time niches.”

--Bill Mollison

cyclic opportunity

 The lifecycle of a bean plant is one example of a cyclic opportunity on a permaculture site.  Artwork by KT Shepherd.

Tapping the Flow

One of the fastest and easiest way to increase the yield on your site is by harnessing cyclic opportunities that already exist there. 


Natural cycles, such as planetary orbits, seasonal changes, and women’s menses, are all around us. In every step of a cycle, there are opportunities to mimic, divert, or interact within that cycle. This results in higher yields, new opportunities, and a more ecological and efficient system overall. Most cycles are predictable, and we can learn, through observation and pattern recognition, how to divert and multiply their potential.

The Spiral Design Wheel

​As discussed in the video, adding nine cycles to the GOBRADIME/Permaculture Principles design/memory tool helps us to ensure that we cover all the bases with our design projects.

The goal is to use an awareness of cycles around you to divert the flow, create new flows, and encourage a wilderness-like level of functional, thriving diversity.

design cycles

Finding potential in every stage of a life cycle.

Most plants, from annual daisies to ancient yew trees, generally follow the same life cycle: the seed grows into a plant which flowers then produces a fruit which contains seed.

Each stage provides us with an opportunity for a yield, or in other words, we can use plants at different stages. Imagined the life cycle of plants as a flow of water, with each different way of using plants creating eddies in the flow.

Artwork by Marit Parker

Hands-On


  • Hop over here and give this document a once-over. In particular, read pages 3-8, about yields and cyclic opportunity. What do you think? What comes up for you, reading these definitions and theoretical ideas? How can you apply them to your practical, hands-on design project?
  • Walk around your site and look for places where cycles are happening. Note them on a layer of your map. Do you see a potential to increase yields by interrupting and/or interacting with existing cycles? What about creating new ones? 

Relevant Links and Resources​


Obtain a Yield with Charlie McGee!

Your comments and suggestions are important to us,

and we always want to know if something on the site isn't working. Thanks for filling out this quick form. If you would like to give more extensive feedback and/or a testimonial, go here instead.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This