What is Permaculture?
The goal of permaculture is cooperating with nature in order to create regenerative biosystems for human living.
Permaculture comes from "permanent culture". The practical goal is the creation of sustainable biosystems that provide for their own needs and recycle their waste. The word refers to a set of design principles developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren around 1978.
Permaculture is a design philosophy encompassing diverse inter-related fields, including gardening/horticulture, architecture, ecology, community design, and systems theories. Basically, the principles are about "finding the right way" to work with the local environment to create sustainable living, using a blend of our best human ancestral know-how, and the sustainable modern technologies of our 21st century. Permaculture makes efficient use of knowledge to create a productive surrounding flora, fauna, and community system, based on the principles of nature.
This is not as hard as it sounds - nature is very powerful and within a few years, even living in an apartment, people can create remarkably productive local biosystems. But permaculture does involve giving up a lot of modern ways of thinking and behaving. As Mollison puts it, permaculture is about "not shitting in your bed" - but since this is mostly how modern life operates, it represents a radical change in thinking. Once a permaculture farm is established, the main danger, according to Mollison, is from falling food :)
Mollison developed his ideas after spending long periods studying rainforest systems in Australia. He realised that all elements naturally grouped themselves in mutually beneficial communities and he transplanted this idea into a permaculture's approach to agriculture and community design. Permaculture is about arranging the right elements together in a system so that they sustain and support each other for long-term productive living.
Permaculture has generated widespread and enthusiastic interest worldwide. For example, the Vietnamese government have adopted the principles into their agricultural policy and distributed translated copies of the permaculture design book to their farmers.
According to David Suzuki, "What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet". And the good news is you can start right now - start at your nose, your room, your back doorstep...start observing and cooperating with nature.