Monday, May 26, 2008


Permaculture Planet

Permaculture is a way of looking at a system as a whole and observing connections or relationships between key elements. Systems are maintained or mended by applying ideas from well-established, long-term working systems. Techniques and cultural systems are borrowed from organic agriculture, sustainable forestry, horticulture, agroforestry, and the land management systems of indigenous peoples.

The system evolves from both conventional and inventive cultural systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input. Synergy between design elements is achieved while minimizing waste and the demand for human labour or energy.

Design is always a creative and intensive process, and you must stretch your ability to see possible future synergetic relationships. Maintenance is then required to keep your site at a healthy optimum, making minor adjustments as necessary. Good design will preclude the need for any major adjustments.

Design Principles:
Observe and Interact
Design from Patterns to Details
Use and Value Diversity
Integrate Rather than Segregate
Use Edges and Value the Marginal
Catch and Store Energy
Use Renewable Resources and Services
Produce No Waste
Obtain a Yield
Creatively Use and Respond to Change
Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
Use Small and Slow Solutions
David Holmgren
A good permaculture design also employs the following ethical considerations:
Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life.
We must respect that the Earth is our valuable home and that we are a part of the Earth, not apart from it.
Peoplecare – supporting and helping to develop healthy societies.
We must strive toward changing to ways of living that are not harming ourselves or the planet.
Fairshare - placing limits on consumption.
We must ensure that the Earth's limited resources are utilised in ways that are equitable and wise.
Design Patterns:

The use of natural patterns and reusable patterns from other sites is often key to permaculture design.

In pattern application, permaculture designers are encouraged to develop awareness of the patterns that exist in nature and how these function. "All things, even the wind, the waves and the earth on its axis, moving around the Sun, form patterns."
~Christopher Alexander

The design is also determined by site specific design needs, such as size and shape. "The application of pattern on a design site involves the designer recognising the shape and potential to fit these patterns or combinations of patterns comfortably onto the landscape"

Permaculture Zones

Permaculture zones are a way of organizing design elements in a human environment based on the frequency of human use. Frequently manipulated or harvested elements are located close to the house in zones one and two, while less frequently manipulated elements of the design are farther away from the house.

Permaculture Guilds

Permaculture Guilds are groups of plants which work particularly well together. Guilds can be thought of as an extension of companion planting. Native communities can be adapted by substitution of plants more suitable for human use. The Three Sisters of maize, squash and beans is a well known guild.


Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space, in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems, and avoiding large stands of single crops, or monoculture. It includes crop rotation, multi-cropping, and inter-cropping.


Silvopasture is the practice of combining forestry and grazing of domesticated animals, in order that they be compatible. Advantages of a properly managed silvopasture operation are simultaneous production of trees and grazing animals which leads to enhanced soil protection, and long term economic stability by maximizing potential economic benefits.

In permaculture and forest gardening, seven layers are identified:
The Canopy
Low Tree Layer (dwarf fruit trees)
Herbaceous Plants
Rhizosphere (root crops)
Soil Surface (cover crops)
Vertical Layer (climbers, vines)
The 8th Layer, or Mycosphere (fungi), is often included.

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