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What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an ecologically sustainable design principle for our homes, gardens of all sizes, lifestyles, farms and smallholdings.

I have been studying and attempting to practice Permaculture for 16 years now (lifestyle, WWOOF-ing, growing food in pots and having a huge allotment). Four years ago I successfully completed the Sustainable Land Use Course (Diploma) with Patrick Whitefield at Ragmans Lane Farm. My intention, now that there is 44 acres to care for, is to design those acres using Permaculture principles (see bottom of this post). I can't wait!

"The philosophy of Permaculture is to reduce the impact that human settlements have on non-renewable and renewable resources, while creating an abundant living environment, catering to the needs of all living creatures.

Permaculture is a science developed through the observation and analysis of natural systems. Through this analysis set structural patterns common to all natural systems emerge. Permaculture design then applies these “Patterns” to the development of sustainable human settlements, harmoniously integrating landscape and people while providing food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way".

Looking at that description it's clear to see that permaculture isn't just a method of sustainable agriculture, it's about looking at the way you live and adapting it into a more ethical and sustainable way of life. Not just for you, but for everything on the planet. Try as we might, we can't survive independently without trees, bugs, flowers and even tropical rainforests, (even though they're over the other side of the world!). We are all inextricably linked. Anything we do affects them and anything they do affects us.

" What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know. The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself." -Chief Seattle

So, if we want the best for ourselves and those we love we need to look after the health and happiness of our environment. The best way to do that is for each of us to live with an awareness of our actions and practice kindness to all things as much as we can. We will then live with as little negative impact on our Earth as possible, and it is possible. The rest will take care of its self.

Permaculture helps you, through design, to look at your immediate environment (your garden and home), what sort of transport you have/use, your shopping habits (food, clothes and bits n bobs), who's looking after your cash (is your bank investing it in things you are happy with?), recycling, community work, etc.

You don't have to move house to bring permaculture into your life. A good permaculture design for your home can transform it into an ecologically sound, efficient system that can feed you as well as help you make sustainable choices in ever day life. It could save you money in the longterm and give you the peace of mind that comes with taking responsibility back for your future, your children's future and our earths' future.

The principles listed below are written by David Holmgren. David co-developed Permaculture with Bill Mollison in the 1970's.

  • Observe and Interact
  • Catch and Store Energy
  • Obtain a Yield
  • Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback
  • Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
  • Produce No Waste
  • Design From Patterns To Details
  • Integrate Rather Than Segregate
  • Use Small and Slow Solutions
  • Use and Value Diversity
  • Use Edges and Value The Marginal
  • Creatively Use and Respond To Change

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