What is permaculture? Learning about permaculture means empowering ourselves to heal and regenerate ourselves, our communities and Earth. Some courses are certified and some aren’t, but this understanding is at the core of all permaculture education. Artwork by KT Shepherd.
Permaculture is community, human and non-human, interconnected.
Whether this is the first time you’ve heard of permaculture, or you’re sure you already know what it is, it’s important for us to launch our course with this fundamental inquiry, and investigate the ways in which we can agree on our basic purpose while still holding space for a diversity of attitudes and approaches.
What is permaculture? Here's the short answer:
Permaculture is a strategic, systematic approach to changing our homes, gardens, and lives so that they regenerate, rather than annihilate, the Earth.
Permaculture designers transform scarcity into abundance.
The permaculture process balances human needs with the needs of other species.
A permaculture design creates systems made up of organisms, mechanisms, and feedback.
Plus, it's super fun and personally rewarding. A permaculture design process can help you:
Wait, did you come here to learn about gardening?!?
Yes, we will get into that too, but permaculture is and does so much more than create beautiful, abundant gardens. As we go deeper into our studies, over the next 52 weeks, we will learn many ways to work with plants. But first, let's look at the foundational reasons why plants are so important, by exploring the ideas that started the permaculture movement, back in the 1970's.
Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, who coined the term "permaculture," taught from an ethical and ecological basis that used Birch’s Six Principles of Natural Systems, as follows:
And here is the original list of permaculture principles, as presented by Mollison and Holmgren:
We'll come back around to these principles and many more, but for now can you see how these ideas could help you to design not only a garden and homestead, but also a social and emotional landscape that is more resilient, abundant, and safe than the current (degenerative) systems in which most of us now exist?
To understand better what permaculture is and isn't, watch this video, excerpted from our certification course:
What is permaculture? Here's the long answer.
Several modules of the Permaculture Women's Guild online certification course, (which I also organize,) are available for free. It includes the content from the above article, plus several more videos, a detailed exploration of permaculture basics, and a list of essential resources. So, if you haven’t already checked out the introduction to permaculture class that serves as our first module, then jump in! It’s fun!
Now it's your turn!
Every class in our course includes hands-on ideas to help you think, write, discuss, and dive deep into exploring and experimenting with these ideas in your daily life.
Questions to ask:
Things to try:
This week it’s all about just opening the door….
(Side note: Don’t get distracted by internet trolls! They're everywhere, and sadly, prevalent in almost all of the online permaculture forums. For an incomplete list of troll-free, welcoming and informative facebook groups that will get you started, go here.)
Relevant Links and Resources
Listen to Maddy Harland, UK permaculture pioneer, author, publisher, and founding editor of Permaculture Magazine (who also happens to be on our faculty) discuss permaculture on the Sodshow Podcast. Click here to listen.
Tending the Wild
This beautiful documentary explores some of the ideas about where permaculture techniques came from and reminds us how much we can learn from some indigenous cultures, about caring for nature.
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