What is Permaculture:
Permaculture is a portmanteau of the words permanent and agriculture. The idea is to create an agriculture (and eventually an entire culture) that is sustainable—naturally, economically, and over an indefinite period of time. The idea is for it to be good for people, good for the earth, and maintainable over generations, or even centuries.
Personally, I like to think of permaculture as terraforming a landscape into something that is beneficial and provident over time. The more provident and beneficial the result, the better the design.
Who Founded Permaculture?
The founders of permaculture philosophy are Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.
Bill’s story… (and yes, this is his Wikipedia article. But it gives a great synopsis)
The Wisdom of Native Peoples
(In my case, this would refer to both local Native Americans and pioneer groups)
Learn to design based on the place you live. Learn to connect with where you are, and what this place has to offer. Indigenous people offer incredible insights into the lands where you now live.
People who have lived somewhere for a long time (generations, for example) can offer some of the best insights in the area. They often come up with ways of calendaring based on what nature is doing. (Ex. Elms in bloom means it’s time to plant X).
Wild plants are particularly effective indicators.
Seasons have a rhythm. There are cycles in plants, animals, and astronomical bodies. All of these effect AND indicate patterns that should be considered in design.
Temperatures, wind, precipitation, elevation, proximity to structures (natural or otherwise), and every other factor can be observed, and their patterns can be mapped.
We can develop a lifestyle that fits our location. Medicines, foods, and activities that are based in the very place you live increases health, and creates a much more holistic lifestyle for those taking these things into account.
Become familiar with the indigenous people of your area—both generational and those from long before western settlement, as well as their practices, patterns, food and medicine sources, and lifestyles.
State of the World
You can get an idea of the energy use distribution around the world by going to Google Earth, and switching to night mode. Clearly, more “developed” areas are using a great deal more energy than those considered more primitive.
Of course, most resources in any one area are obtained from outside that area. But the permaculture approach is to build resource bases in every location across the world. This is done on both the large, professional scale, and on the personal, homestead scale.
This is done by finding the best ways to utilize the strengths of every individual area to take advantage of the resources already present, as well as restructure the area to create resources in that place that weren’t there before. And this is done in the most sustainable ways possible.
And this isn’t just referring to food. Energy, food, water, fuel, electricity, entertainment, medicine, shelter, comfort, materials, arts, and social relationships can all be utilized, built, and strengthened based on the design that is implemented in an area.