How permaculture does work

As I wrote in the introduction of the book, permaculture can be a solution to many of our problems – all over the globe. In this chapter, I will briefly explain how permaculte does work, first and foremost from a horticultural perspective. The rest of the book will offer information both on the practical aspect and a more in-depth look at how to use permaculture alongside other tools.

Permanent Agriculture

The term permaculture comes from the words of Permanent Agriculture. It was coined in 1978 by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, both from Australia.

Bill was a researcher and biologist, and as such, he was fascinated by the forest and how it worked when it was allowed to grow freely without human influence. At the same time, he was very committed to finding a solution to the catastrophe he believed the world was heading towards. Despite both involvement and participation in many protests, he felt that nothing he did yielded any visible results.

In the end, he realized that the change that was needed did not come from above but from below. Therefore, he returned home and began to cultivate crops in ways inspired by the forests and by the indigenous people that remain in the world. From this, his book “Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual” was born. A complete manual for everything about how permaculte does work.

The ethical principles and how permaculte does work

Permaculture is a planning tool that can help us find our way back to a sustainable system – both for us and the planet as a whole. Permaculture is a holistic approach that can be summarized in the following three ethical principles.

Caring for the Earth

Caring for the Earth means that we recapture the understanding that we are part of the planet and that we live in synergy with all other life.

Caring for people

Caring for people is about finding our way back to a more close-knit community, where people have time for each other – that we can talk, listen, see, and be seen.

Fair distribution

Earth’s resources are finite, so we need to manage and fairly distribute these resources in a way so that we do not consume more than what is renewed.

How permaculture does work and is the change hard? 

The answer is both yes and no. The difficulty lies in that the problems are global, and that makes the decision process extremely slow and convoluted. It is the economic doctrine of constant growth in particular, which is the driving force behind most of the problems.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of a quick change is minimal – because nobody, neither politicians nor financiers, want to be the first to take a step towards change. Nobody dares to be the first to put the nail in the coffin on today’s shining economy. 

How, then, do we stop the runaway train? Here, I believe the saying “if you want something done, do it yourself” comes in handy, even if it can sound near impossible. But imagine – what if we can? 

How permaculture does work is about taking the reins ourselves and changing our own way of life. We can do so much more than we think, and a good start is to change our perspective from “something must be done” to “what can I do?”.

Because we decide our own actions as long as we stay within the limits of the law. No one can prevent us from starting – right now – to see things from another perspective. Everything does not need changing all at once; we can take it one step at a time. Because how do you move a mountain? Why; by moving one rock at a time, of course. 

Therefore, let us start by growing more of our food ourselves. If we don’t have that option, we can at least choose sustainable, organic and locally grown produce. If we take a step back and rethink while asking ourselves, “Do I really need this?” we can reduce our consumption while saving both resources and money. As soon as we succeed in taking a step towards a more thoughtful existence, we need less money, which has the added bonus of needing to “work” less. This, in turn, makes the puzzle of life easier to solve.

The 12 design tools of permaculture

In addition to the ethical principles, permaculture has 12 design tools. Within these, many of the permaculture keywords words such as observation, planning,
natural balance, resource conservation, renewal, and overall return are repeated throughout. Together, the design tools reflect the three ethical principles of permaculture.

⇾            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

Observe and interact

With increased attention, a little patience, and a sense of curiosity, we will soon learn how nature’s systems function. Then we can begin to interact with nature. Because when nature takes care of itself – it performs at its best. It has itself built up complex and regenerative systems under 4.5 billion years, and one might wonder why we humans try to change this.

Order and disorder

Man would like to have things neat and tidy in different contexts, both when growing produce and keeping animals. But our order is not always the same as the one nature wants. In this, the ancient laws of nature apply. These laws require us to get better at understanding and mimicking …

How permaculture does work