Patterns in Nature and Biomimicry

Patterns in nature repeat on each and every scale, and we can mimic them in our designs.

This is week 5 of our yearlong #freepermaculture course

herb spiral illustration
An herb spiral garden uses the positive aspects of spiral shapes found in nature, to create a resilient design of abundance. Artwork by KT Shepherd

All that is and ever was…

All things that exist are made of the same basic patterns, and we can use those patterns to understand, interact with, and mimic nature, so that our homes, gardens, and lifestyles are more sustainable.

The goal of today’s class is to become acquainted with the core set of patterns that make up all matter, on every scale of the known universe, and to explore ways we can mimic,understand, and adapt to those patterns on every scale of our permaculture design project.

nautilus spiral golden ratio

Making use of available resources…

There are so many wonderful videos about this topic online already, so rather than make something repetitive, we’ve picked a few of our favorites to share.

In this sweet, simple overview, Amy Lamb shows the common recurring patterns in nature that make up all things.

patterns in nature

Alan Turing was less famous than Einstein or Tesla but his study of patterns changed the way humans see, study, and interact with nature.

Can One Mathematical Model Explain All Patterns In Nature?

Biomimicry

​In a permaculture context, we study biomimicry to help understand how we can apply natural patterns to our whole systems design. Here’s an excellent short article to introduce the concept of biomimicry.

spiral pattern fern with praying mantis

Here’s a fun animation about biomimicry, from the folks at Sustainability Illustrated

Biomimicry: definition & examples (explained with drawings)

Hands-On

Part one: another treasure hunt!

​This time, we’re hunting for patterns in nature!

Go out for a walk in nature and see how many of these patterns you can find.

Take pictures and create your own collage, then share it!

Part two: personal patterns

Spend a week keeping track of your daily habits. 

  • What do you eat? 
  • Where do you go?
  • Who do you see?
  • What do you buy?
  • What do you waste?
  • What do you create?
  • Are you taking more than you give, from an ecological standpoint?
  • Can you strike a better balance?
  • How?

Relevant Links and Resources​

The late, great Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden, a Guide to Home-scale Permaculture, often discussed how patterns in nature can be applied to every aspect of our lives. Read an article and watch Toby here.

city repair abundant urban garden with toby hemenway

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