Index  ||  A Brief Introduction  |  Definitions

About Permaculture

 

Here is a collection of definitions by some of the elders in Permaculture.

 

Graham Bell, The Permaculture Way

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.

 
Simon Henderson, Cortez IS, BC

Permaculture is the use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production, housing appropriate technology and community development. It offers a practical, creative approach to the problems of diminishing resources and threatened life support systems now facing the world.

 
Guy Baldwin, Cortez Is, BC

Permaculture is a holistic approach to landscape design and human culture. It is an attempt to integrate several disciplines, including biology, ecology, geography, agriculture, architecture, appropriate technology, gardening and community building.

 
Dan Hemenway

Permaculture integrates people into Nature's design. A permaculture design provides us with shelter, food, water, income, community and aesthetic and spiritual fulfillment within a balanced and healthy biological community.

Permaculture is Applied Science and Ecology; Ethical design of human systems for a sustainable future. It offers practical solutions to the global environmental and cultural crises we now face.

Permaculture (Permanent Culture) is the conscious design and co-creative evolution of agriculturally productive ecosystems and cooperative and economically just social systems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of 'natural' systems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. The practice and development of liberating mental, emotional and spiritual ways of being. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth.

 
Grailville Workshop:

Permaculture is a way of bringing together in a sensible system: ourselves and our communities, with whatever bit of land/space we are tending. It can be as small as a window with sprouts or as large as a farm or a bioregion. It can be in the city, the suburbs or in the country.

Permaculture addresses the way we live on this planet in a graceful and healthy way, respecting the plants and animals around us, and leaving the biosphere in a more productive and healthy state than we found it.

 
Washburn TN PDC

Permaculture is the conscious design of 'cultivated' ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a harmonious integration of people into the landscape in such a way that the land grows in richness, productivity and aesthetic beauty.

 
Anon 84 PD

Pc is perennial agriculture

 
Anon 84 PD

Permaculture is an agroecosystem which is designed & maintained by its owner/occupiers to provide for their food, energy, shelter, and other material a & non-material needs in a sustainable manner. Of course not everything happens the way they plan it.

 
Anon, 84 PD

A permaculture is a diverse, complex ecosystem where the elements interact in mutually beneficial ways to produce a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.

 
Jamie Jobb, 84 PD

Permaculture is an approach to agriculture & human settlement which seeks a harmonious balance among all forms of life in an ecosystem.

 
Nathan Alexandra, 84 PD

A Permaculture only happens where land & people are one.

 
Anon, 84 PD

Permaculture is the name that has been given to the design & creation of self-sustaining productive landscapes which, once established, will need the minimum of human intervention. A permaculture design incorporates a diversity of species & interrelations between species, & allows for the continuous evolution that occurs in Nature. There is a succession of species each preparing the environment for the next & all moving towards a climax state.

 
Anon, 84 PD

Permaculture is an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant & animal species useful to man.

 
Anon, 84 PD

Permaculture is knowing/creating one’s outer aspects, to connect them in complex webs that catch incoming energies in stable, low-entropy zoos.

 
Dan Hemenway

Permaculture seeks to design sustainable lifestyles based on conditions unique to each place and designed according to the same principles by which nature integrates other species into her ecosystems. While permaculture obtains its design principles through careful study and search for comparable principles in nature, permaculture strategies are based on the realities of the 20th century.

 
Anon, 84 PD

Permaculture is logarithmic; the biggest things you see are your nose, home, immediate surroundings and internal conditions. Start inside & work outward.

 
Anon, 84 PD

Permaculture is the unhurried, non-threatening dissolution of all states, & subsequent reactivation of corporate, investor, government & ghetto welfare stubs.

 
Brian Hutchinson

Permaculture is knowing/creating one’s outer aspects, to connect them in complex webs that catch incoming energies in stable, low-entropy zoos.

Permaculture is logarithmic; the biggest things you see are your nose, home, immediate surroundings & internal conditions - start inside & work outward.

Permaculture is the unhurried, non-threatening dissolution of all states, & subsequent reactivation of corporate, investor, government & ghetto welfare stubs.

To lessen existential fears through reduction of created wants & abundance of all needs, in the broadest sense, that beings may achieve higher conscienceness or whatever.

 
Bill Mollison

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.

 
Anon, 84 PD

An evolving Permaculture gives witness to present concern, & builds a beneficial future legacy.

 
Anon, 84 PD

Permaculture is a sustainable life support system that can maintain life for more than 20 years (as opposed to the fossil fuel based system that may not last that long).

 
Bill Mollison

Permaculture. A copyright word, owned as a common copyright by the Permaculture Institutes & their graduates. Derived from ‘Permanent’ and ‘Culture’, as follows:

Permanent: From the Latin permanens, to remain to the end, to persist throughout (per = through, manere = to continue)

Culture: From the Latin cultura - cultivation of land, or the intellect. Now generalized to mean all those habits, beliefs, or activities than sustain human societies.

Thus, Permaculture is the study of the design of those sustainable or enduring systems that support human society, both agricultural & intellectual, traditional & scientific, architectural, financial & legal. It is the study of integrated systems, for the purpose of better design & application of such systems.

 
Bill Mollison

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.

 
CA 97 flyer

Permaculture, from PERManent agriCULTURE, is a practical system of ecological design. Employing powerful natural patterns, you can design & build profitable, sustainable, productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems.

 
Dawn Shiner

Permaculture...an ethical design tool, creating sustainability through the integration of diversity, stability, & resilience in ecologically-sound, economically-viable human environments respecting the whole of creation

 
Anon

Permaculture is a world-wide movement of designers, teachers, & grassroots activists working to restore damaged ecosystems & human communities. Permaculture derives practical techniques & principles from the study of natural systems & applies them to earth repair & care.

 
Patricia DuBose Michael

Permaculture is the harmonious integration of people into the landscape in such a way that the land grows in richness & aesthetic beauty.

 
Ben Haggard, PDI inside cover #19

Permaculture is a design system that reconciles human communities with the ecological imperatives of a living planet. Permaculture design may be used to restore ecosystems, create sustainable farms & healthy towns, & promote economic systems that support Earth care.

Permaculture provides an ethical & holistic foundation for sustainable culture. The principles are derived from three basic ethics: Care for the Earth; Care for people; Limit needs & reinvest in the future

The core emphasis of permaculture is that landscapes are complex & integrated wholes. Ecosystems are healthy & relatively stable when their parts are connected in a diverse web of relationships. In a Permaculture design, decisions flow naturally from observations of these relationships. Decisions that arise from connection are inherently functional & frequently beautiful.

Permaculture uses the energies of wind, sun, water, soil & the myriad biological processes of the world’s organisms. These powerful energies, used appropriately, assist in reclaiming soils. Forest, prairie, & river systems regenerate. waste products are minimal & reused. Human Communities provide for their own needs in small, efficient farms & gardens, allowing the broad landscape to return to health.

Permaculture is a body of knowledge, susceptible to learning & teaching. But it is is also a way of organizing knowledge, a connecting system that integrates science, art, politics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, & the diverse experiences & resources available in any community.

 
Anon

Permaculture is a design system that works toward establishing productive environments - providing for food, shelter, energy, waste recycling, material & non-material need - as well as the social & economic infrastructures that support them. It aims to create systems that will sustain the present as well as future generations.

 
Peter Bane

Permaculture is the conscious design of “cultivated” ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, & resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a harmonious integration of people into the landscape in such a way that the land grows in richness, productivity, and aesthetic beauty.

Permaculture is an ethical design system for creating human environments that are ecologically sound & economically viable. Permaculture systems provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, & are therefore sustainable.

 
Larry Santoyo & Simon Henderson

Permaculture (permanent-culture) is an innovative science that balances community development with ecological sensitivity.

 
Bill Mollison & Scott Pittman, La Tierra Community CA PDC flyer

Permaculture (Permanent Agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of cultivated ecosystems which have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape, people & appropriate technologies, providing good, shelter, energy & other needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture is a philosophy and an approach to land use which works with natural rhythms & patterns, weaving together the elements of microclimate, annual & perennial plants, animals, water & soil management, & human needs into intricately connected & productive communities.

 
Anon

Permaculture, or permanent (agri)culture, means working with natural forces - wind, sun, & water - to provide food, shelter, water & other needs with minimum labor & without depleting the land. Permaculture is a holistic approach based on traditional agricultural practices.

 
Anon

Permaculture is a design system which applies ecological principles & appropriate technologies to shelter, water supply, food systems, energy, & other aspects of living. Its aim is to create self-maintaining & highly productive agricultural ecosystems which have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a natural ally to an organic approach to building & community development.

 
Anon

Permaculture is a philosophy & and approach to land use which provides a way to conserve our diminishing natural resources. A permaculture design weaves together plants, animals , soils, water management & human needs into sustainable life systems.

 
Anon

Permaculture seeks to develop the natural resources of a place & integrates the human community into Nature’s design. A permaculture design provides us with shelter, energy, food, water, income, & aesthetic & spiritual fulfillment within a balanced & healthy biological community.

 
Orcas Is PDC flyer

Permaculture is the art of putting yourself in symbiotic relationship with Gaia & with other people.

Permaculture is wedded to place, with reliance on native plants, & a close eye on the ecosystem.

Permaculture is about self-reliance, growing food, & building creative, beautiful, energy-efficient structures from local materials.

Permaculture is multiple-story, agroforestry systems using tree crops, shrubs, vines & herbaceous plants in symbiotic assemblages which are highly productive.

 
John Irwin

Permaculture is the conscious design of a human-centered ecosystem, which is balanced and abundant enouth that the inhabitants never run out of anything or pollute anything.

 
Dawn Shiner

Patterned after the natural & diverse systems of nature, PERMACULTURE is a design science that weaves together our individual human needs with the microclimates, plants, animals, micro-organisms, water & soil management, thus allowing us as individuals to take responsibility for our life-styles & design our way out of unsustainable cultural patterns while meeting the realities of the 20th Century.

 
Richard Griffith, Hockley Valley ON PDC

Permaculture integrates practices from many disciplines to create designs that are self-regulating, do not exploit or pollute, & have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems.

Permaculture facilitates the transition toward a sustainable society by enabling you to provide for your own food, shelter, energy & livelihood in a supportive community. By making functional connections between people, site, technology, & socio-legal structures, permaculture evolves environments that are not only ecologically sound but also economically viable.

 
Ben Haggard

Permaculture (Permanent Agriculture or Permanent Culture) is the conscious design of a sustainable future based on co-operating with Nature & caring for the Earth & its people.

Permaculture draws together the skills & knowledge of many ecologically sound disciplines - from traditional to modern - to create ways of providing for our needs, including food, shelter & financial & social structures. It empowers the individual to be resourceful, self-reliant & a conscious part of the solution to the many problems facing us, both locally & globally.

Permaculture design may be used to restore ecosystems; creator sustainable farms & healthy towns; & promote economic systems that support earth care.

 
Sustainable Living in Drylands

Permaculture is the use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production, housing appropriate technology and community development. Permaculture is built upon an ethic of caring for the earth & interacting with the environment in mutually beneficial ways.

 
Anon

A wholly systematic approach to ecologically benign design for mutual habitation by many species, including our sapient one. Permaculture provides environmentally sound & humane responses to profit-oriented land uses.

 
Anon

Permaculture design is planning intensive, & involves thorough analysis in order to select the species & management plan for a particular site so that roots may take hold & sprout new & more abundant life.

 
Bill Mollison

Permanent agriculture can be regarded as a valid, safe, & sustainable, completer energy system. the needs of the system for energy are provided by the system. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.

 
Anon

Permaculture uses biology, ecology & agriculture & combines it with architectural design & engineering methods to support a sustainable culture. this sustainability depends on economic viability, environmental sensitivity & social responsiveness! The emphasis is on working parallel with nature rather than at right angles.

Permaculture is the design of human living spaces around environmental principles. The emphasis is on thoughtful observation rather than mindless labor. This uses insight rather than resources to turn problems into assets & waste into resources.

Permaculture is not an end or destination, but rather a means or road leading towards sustainable & ecologically sound ways to meet human needs.

 
Declan Kennedy

The term “Permaculture” defines a design method which abandons the linear sectoral organization of human support systems (such as agriculture, energy & water management, architecture, urban planning, education, recreation, administration, etc.) in order to create linkages between the various elements needed for each specific task. Thus each element enhances the function of all others - similar to the way in which highly developed organisms work. The results are often stunning. Both in urban & rural settings, Permaculture examples demonstrate how the optimization of the overall “ yield” saves work (i.e., time & energy) & creates beauty, flexibility, & responsiveness. Applied on a larger scale, we could create abundance everywhere in the world. All we need is human intelligence, courage, & insight.

 
Dan Hemenway

“Permaculture” is a term used to describe the application of ecosystem design principles to design sustainable human habitation, including supply of water, food, energy, shelter, income, aesthetics, community & other needs, & amenities. Permaculture stresses careful observation & integration into natural design for each place as an alternative both to the drudgery of continually laboring & to excessive reliance on complex technologies, which are inherently unstable.

 
Gus & LaNada James

Permaculture combines current technology with aboriginal cultural knowledge collected over generations: to create self-contained, self perpetuating ecological systems. This includes growing edible (& nutritious) plants, fish & animals; as well as the application of appropriate technology to create energy from solar, wind, water, & compost.

 
Bill Mollison

Permaculture seeks the Garden of Eden & why not?

The overall aim of permaculture design is to produce an efficient low-maintenance productive integration of plants, animals, structures & man; with the ultimate result of on-site stability & food self-sufficiency in the smallest practical area.

The aim is also to plan for craft or other products on larger areas, that yield a trade or commercial potential for clients, again as diverse products resources. The design should aim for a total, secure, long-term integration of all elements; stability & diversity are the keynotes. Conservation of soil, water, & energy are central issues.

The system combines rational landscape design, organic gardening methods, & alternative energy systems into a unified design encompassing many trades, skill, & disciplines.

 
Alison Peck

Permaculture gains its name from the dream of a permanent, sustainable agriculture & culture. Permaculture expands edible landscaping to consider all of the elements that are part of a natural self-sustaining landscape. Taking inspiration from Aikido, Permaculture works with natural forces to create productive landscapes rather than forcing production with inputs of energy & chemicals. The elements, the earth, plants & animals, are woven into a complex, balanced landscape providing good shelter, energy & more. A permaculture can be created in a back yard or with many acres; it can range from a minimum maintenance condominium planting to a productive farm. A carefully created permacultural landscape requires no more intervention to be healthy & productive than a mountain meadow needs weeding or watering.

 
Brochure

Permaculture is designing all the facets of our lives to enhance environmental sustainability. Only with a sustainable environment, can we have a “permanent culture.: Permaculture designs assume an ethic of caring for the earth. Designs involve food production, energy, water, housing, community, transportation, & other systems in harmony with all of the natural world.

 
Anon

Permaculture is a philosophy of design - blending our food, shelter, & lifestyle requirements with natural processes (working with nature). Permaculture aims to achieve sustainability (a politically correct term these days!)

 
Anon

Permaculture is the conscious design of self-sustaining agricultural landscapes; rather than dominating the environment, it seeks to enhance it. The word itself is coined from permanent agriculture; & also permanent culture. The aim of Permaculture is to create agriculture systems than are ecologically sound & economically viable, enough to provide for their own needs with out exploiting or polluting the earth. Thus, in the end, these systems are sustainable in the long run.

 
Anon

Permaculture is a philosophy & an approach to land use which weaves together microclimate, annual & perennial plants, animals, soils, water management, & human needs into intricately connected, productive communities.

The objective of permaculture design is to produce efficient, low maintenance, productive integration of plants, structures & people; with the ultimate result of on-site stability & food self-sufficiency in the smallest practical area.

The word Permaculture comes from permanent agriculture & permanent culture because cultures cannot survive long without a sustainable agricultural base & land use ethic.

 
Pat Marie Sigler, OP

“Permaculture” is a way of designing and living sustainably by cooperating with nature. It is based on one of the great principles of design -- Do something basically right & everything gets much more right of itself. Permaculture aims to create productive ecosystems that are both regenerative & self-regulating. It proceeds from commonly accepted ethical principles:P CARE FOR EARTH; CARE FOR PEOPLE; CARE FOR COMMUNITY. Permaculture helps people rethink the whole basis of how they are going to live. It requires a shift from passive learning to active participation. It requires that what is learned about energy, physics, ecosystems, water flow, climate, etc. be applied in everyday living & being. “Doing” becomes far more important than “saying”.

Permaculture can be viewed as part of the paradigm shift that all of society is experiencing. Permaculture urges complete cooperation between each & every thing, animate & inanimate. It advises people to live simply & in harmony with each other & with their surroundings.

Although it has no concise definition, permaculture is a design for living. A permaculture design provides us with shelter, energy, food, water, income, community, & aesthetic & spiritual fulfillment within a balanced & healthy biological community. Through permaculture & sustainable development we will be better able to increase the quality rather than the quantity of our lives. We can increase the quantity of our lives on our own. All we need is a shopping mall & some money. On the other hand, to increase the quality of our lives we need friendships, good health, a sense of security, a vibrant community life, opportunities to give , to cooperate & to share.

Permaculture provides these opportunities by enabling us to substitute intelligence for resources in our economy; to substitute the pursuit of wellbeing for the pursuit of wealth; to develop the wealth of the community rather than individual wealth.

 
Anon

Permaculture is a way of bringing together in a sensible system: yourself & your community, with whatever bit of land/space that you are tending. It can be as small as a window with sprouts or as large as a farm or a bioregion. It can be in the city, the suburbs or in the country.

Permaculture addresses the way we live on this planet in a graceful & healthy way, respecting the plants & animals around us, & leaving the biosphere in a more productive & healthy state than we found it.

 
Anon

Permaculture (permanent agriculture/culture) is the use of Ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production, housing, technology, & community development. The objective is to produce an efficient, low-maintenance, productive integration of plants, structures & people, to obtain on-site stability & food self-sufficiency in the smallest practical area.

Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. Permaculture goes beyond sustainable agriculture in its emphasis on small decentralized & hands-on individual ( as opposed to corporate) commitment to the land. Conceptually it goes easily beyond the scope of agriculture to include community economics, design methods, ecological preservation, appropriate energy use, & strategies for the creation of an “alternative global nation.”

 
Bill Mollison

Permaculture really starts with an ethic or earthcare, understood as care of whole systems of earth & species. So we actually devise model systems. Much of the design is drawn from nature. The end result that we aim for, is to produce a system that is ecologically sound & economically profitable. It can get sophisticated or be as simple as you like.

1. Permanent Agriculture, the requirement for a permanent culture
2. An ethical philosophy of earthcare & peoplecare supported by the distribution of surplus goods; wealth, labor, attention, information
3. The condition of abundance in nature marked by cooperation, diversity of species, occupation of essential ecological niches, & stability over time, in contrast to the conditions of competition, scarcity, monotony, &^ imminent decay which predominate under hierarchical social conditions.
4. A productive system of human design based on maximal beneficial connections between the elements thereof.
5. A global grassroots movement for self-reliance, community responsibility, decentralization of social, political, economic, & technical authority.
6. The demonstrated & replicated teaching & techniques thereof.
7. Interactive, recombinant ecologies marked by elegance of principle, efficiency of function, appropriateness of form, & astonishing beauty.
8. Maximum satisfaction of needs for all living beings employing the minimum area of built space with a high density & quality of biological information

 
Graham Bell, The Permaculture Way

Permaculture is a way of life which shows us how to make the most of our resources by minimizing waste and maximizing potential. Living ecologically doesn't mean giving everything up, but relearning the value of nature & understanding new ways of being wealthy...Conscious design of a lifestyle which is highly productive and does not cause environmental damage.....Meeting our basic needs & still leaving the earth richer than we found it.

 
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