What is Permaculture exactly?

Permaculture is a philosophy and whole system design approach to land use that mimics nature to create productive and sustainable agriculture.  So it weaves together micro-climate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, water management and the needs of the people into intricately connected, productive and resilient communities.

A few years ago very few people had even heard of Permaculture but in fact it’s been around since the 1970s, when two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren first coined the term to describe their new ideas on how to grow food sustainably.  The word ‘permaculture’ is taken from ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’.

Unbeknown to them for some time, others were also experimenting with alternative methods, notably Masanobu Fukuoka in Japan and Sepp Holzer in Austria.  Eventually they all gathered a following but it wasn’t until the internet arrived that the knowledge they and others had amassed began to slowly spread throughout the world.  And even then, it was slow; Permaculture involves a change in the way we look at the land around us, and such a fundamental change in human thinking will always be slow.

In the last 2 years however, Permaculture has exploded around the world as people everywhere begin to realise just how destructive modern agriculture is and just how screwed up our climate is.  There is a new consciousness spreading, ‘paradigm shift’ is on everyone’s’ lips and more and more people in the ‘developed’ world are seeking something more to their lives than the slavery of the modern system. Add to this the fact that climate change is only now denied by those politicians and scientists who are in league with corporate interests, and that the evidence is increasingly in our face – record breaking floods, storms, ice melt, etc.. – and it’s not hard to see why Permaculture is finally on the move.

But there’s another reason.  As time passes, the more knowledge is accumulated and the more spectacular the results get; and it’s all there on the internet.  Permaculturalists are doing incredible things in places where nothing has grown for years, where there’s hardly any rain at all or where the ground is contaminated.  It’s only an approach to design so it’s very adaptable to every climate or scale of project, from window boxes in a cold climate to large properties that turned into deserts after years of destructive farming.

Go to our Links page and click on some of the video and article links there: you’ll be absolutely amazed.

The final reason that Permaculture is finally now exploding is that it’s good news!  We’ve become worn down by the endless tales of gloom and doom; the impending extinctions of our most spectacular animals, the poisons in our food, the sense of hopelessness, of being too small to make a difference, conspiracy theories, etc, etc., it’s a never ending assault. Permaculture offers us a way out of all that; it’s positive, optimistic, realistic, earthy, healthy, honest, infinitely fascinating, and simply makes good sense.  And when you start to get involved you are joining a growing army of like-minded people.  There are dozens of books and films, thousands of websites and videos, seminars, courses and workshops almost every week somewhere, groups, forums, podcasts and online magazines.

Then why have I not heard of it?

Permaculture has not yet become a major scientific subject so it doesn’t feature very much in the normal news and current affairs.  To many the word still conjures up images of hippies flouncing around in Indian clothing and smoking weed. But in reality science is exploring Permaculture, in fields of study around sustainable agriculture such as agro-forestry and agro-ecology; it’s just that in Permaculture we add humans into the equation so that a farm, its animals, fields and trees, the farmer, his family and their house are all part of the same ‘whole’.  And it’s just a system of design, to design a system.  More ‘officially’ recognised methodologies can all be used, just as long as they help the design to work and are sustainable.

Come on, dive in; its extremely refreshing!

Book a place on our PDC with Darren Doherty and change your perspective.  Or if you aren’t able to do that, simply go to our Links page and sign up for some of the newsletters and video feeds from Permaculture sites much more established than ours, and have something incredibly positive regularly delivered to your inbox.