What Is Permaculture?

By Patricia Michael

Copyright © 2004, Patricia Michael. Permission to reproduce is granted provided the work is reproduced in its entirety, including this notice.

Permaculture is a design system and a way of life based on ecology and ethics. Created in Australia in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and his students as a way to develop rich, productive and resilient farms and gardens (permanent agriculture), it has evolved to encompass integrated, sustainable design and living in all its forms.

The practice of Permaculture is based on two things:

  • Observation of healthy, natural systems.
  • Design of human systems on the basis of the patterns observed in the natural systems.

Permaculture designs whole systems based on patterning of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It asks, Where does each element go? How can it be placed for maximum benefit in the system? Permaculture is multi-dimensional.

The design process includes techniques, strategies, and patterning.

  • Techniques are concerned with how to do specific things, such as organic gardening, or water harvesting. Techniques are one-dimensional.
  • Strategies are concerned with how and when to do more complex things. Examples include BioDynamic gardening and Fukuoka farming. Strategies are two or three-dimensional.
  • Patterning is concerned with techniques or strategies which are aesthetically and ethically appropriate to the place. Techniques entail What, Where, When, Why and How. Techniques are many-dimensional.

Permaculture design is based on a strong sense of ethics. Its basic principles are:

  • Take care of the earth.
  • Take care of the people.
  • Share the surplus.
  • Emphasize optimism and cooperation.

Permaculture can be applied to all areas of one's life. It helps us thrive in a thriving environment.

About Patricia

Patricia Michael has taught and practiced Permaculture for over twenty years. She designs landscapes in Austin, Texas, USA for a wide variety of clients. Here is how to contact her:

Phone: +1 (512) 291-4300
Email: patricia@patriciamichaeldesign.com
Surface mail: Patricia Michael Design
603 Kingfisher Creek Drive
Austin TX 78748-2424

You can see some of her work on the Internet at http://www.patriciamichaeldesign.com.

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