Learn about permaculture

What Is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a concept created by the union of two words: permanent and agriculture. It is a set of techniques, elements, and systems that aims to create an efficient eco-system that offers more energy than it needs. This efficient eco-system is created following principles and methodologies that have as the main factor the ability to observe the environment and work together and harmony with nature and not against it.

The term permaculture was developed in Australia by David Holmgren, a graduate student of Professor Bill Mollison in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture” but was expanded to also advocate “permanent culture”, as it was understood that the social aspects were an integral part of a truly sustainable system, as inspired by the philosophy of natural agriculture of Masanobu Fukuoka.

The most important concept of permaculture is the design. Through methods and principles, we take into account not only what we can see on the surface. We must also consider all the set of elements that are necessary for the creation of a system with diversity and stability. When we look at a specific problem of monoculture, for example, the proliferation of pests and then we use pesticides to eliminate the problem we are actually making the situation worse because we are also eliminating all life from the soil. The soil is made up of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and other living things that are important to provide the nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow. By using pesticides that also kill these other living beings, we are reminded of the need to add fertilizers, that is, permaculture is a smarter and more complete way of assessing problems and finding solutions.

This approach and this methodology are extremely important and precious to modern life. Whether for young people, adults, schools or children, permaculture teaches us to think creatively and effectively, not limited to a single source of data to draw conclusions and make decisions.

Permaculture is not limited to sustainable design, it also includes eco-engineering, bioclimatic architecture, construction. It also includes integrated water resource management that develops sustainable architecture and regenerative and self-sustaining habitat and farming systems modeled from natural ecosystems

Ethics and Flower of Permaculture

The social aspect is very important when we think of globalization, conflicts between countries and corporations and sometimes it makes harder to find harmony and a pacific coexistence between humans. When we assess the interactions between different countries or companies, we clearly see the divergence of opinions and the conflicts that these differences can create.

The social aspect is very important when we think of globalization, conflicts between countries and corporations and sometimes it makes harder to find harmony and a pacific coexistence between humans. When we assess the interactions between different countries or companies, we clearly see the divergence of opinions and the conflicts that these differences can create.

It may be the trade tension between the United States and China created by the conflict of interests with trade sanctions, or it may be the ideological tension created by different religions and dogmas, no matter why, if we want to flourish as humanity, we need to be flexible and to respect differences.

Starting from this point, Permaculture has an ethical base that seeks to bring good things not only for people and individuals but also for nature and communities. Including animals, forests, and oceans with all their biodiversity and beauty.

The Ethical Basis of Permaculture is here:

1. EARTH CARE. Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply.

2. PEOPLE CARE. Provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence.

3. FAIR SHARE. Provision of information and knowledge to people to live in a way where nature and the community are the priorities instead of the financial and personal interests.

These three pillars that make up the basis of permaculture can be applied in all sectors to create a highly productive, creative and ecologically resilient system.

By looking at the flower of permaculture, we can see that the concept encompasses not only nature and food production, but also bio-construction and sustainable architecture, alternative tools and technologies, education and culture, healthy and spiritual practices, economic and financial models, and also land tenure and community governance.

To create a better life for this planet and to future generations, we need to take all these aspects into account. People care, Earth Care and Fair Share.

By combining these aspects with the principles of permaculture, we have a methodology that helps us to move towards this new world we want to create in order to regenerate the environment and improve human and social relations.

12 Principles of Permaculture and Permaculture Design

After understanding what is Permaculture and the Ethics of Permaculture we can understand what are the principles and how it can guide us in the design process of a better world. As we saw, Permaculture is a set of design principles centered around whole systems thinking to simulate or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems.

12 Permaculture principles

These are the twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his book: Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

1. Observe and interact: By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.

3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.

4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.

6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.

7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.

8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.

9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.

10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.

11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.

12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

Permaculture Design

Following these principles, we can get very important conclusions on how to create our design to obtain the greatest benefit from nature respecting all its biodiversity.

For example, when we look at cities at landfills, we realize that garbage collection and recycling systems are not working well in large urban centers.

In addition, we produce food in remote areas, and we need to transport to the city creating an entire distribution network that relies on fossil fuels and logistics. In the past, our ancestors used to live close to nature, in a healthy and organic way. When applying the principles of nature, even living in urban areas we can create a system of composting at home in order to produce organic fertilizer with an earthworms system for example. Then we can use this fertile soil to produce food even indoors.

Our goal with The Little Urban Farm is to bring the “farm” into the house. That is, we want to encourage children and adults to produce less waste and cultivate healthy habits that are beneficial to the planet. This example that transforms kitchen waste such as leftovers from food, fruit and vegetables can best be understood with the following principles of permaculture, check it out and think a little about it:

1. Observe and interact (Kitchen waste?);
6. Produce no waste (Landfill or worms bin?);
3. Obtain a yield (Can we produce fertilizer? Why not?);
11. Use marginal edges and value (What about putting this worm bin in the backyard?);

Use and value renewable resources and services (Can we grow veggies or greens!);

This is an example of how the principles can help us find opportunities and take action to make a better world. If you want to know more, contact us. We are an international team co-creating projects in Thailand, China, Cambodia, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Singapore, and Japan. We are also focused on Education, we want to change the world by inspiring kids to be creative and find and create solutions to the problems the world will present us.