Introduction to Permaculture
Ethics of Permaculture
Holmgren's Principles of
Mollison's Principles of Permaculture Design
About This Document
Permaculture Students digging contour
infiltration channels at Half Moon Bay, Ca
from documents created by Steve Diver for
Appropriate Technology Transfer to Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657 Fayetteville, AR 72702 1-800-346-9140
- FAX: (501) 442-9842
and Albert Bates' Permaculture Page
the Permaculture Design Manual by Bill Mollison)
The great oval of the design represents
the egg of life; that quantity of life which cannot be created
or destroyed, but from within which all things that live
are expressed. Within the egg is coiled the rainbow snake,
the Earth-shaper of Australian and American aboriginal peoples.
Within the body of the Serpent is contained
the tree of life, which itself expresses the general pattern
of life forms. Its roots are in earth, and its crown in
rain, sunlight and wind. Elemental forces and flows, shown
external to the oval, represent the physical environment,
the sun, and the matter of the universe; the materials from
which life on earth is formed.
rainbow snake symbol is trademarked by Bill Mollison. Artist:
The word "permaculture" was coined and popularized
in the mid 70's by David Holmgren, a young Australian
ecologist, and his associate / professor, Bill Mollison.
It is a contraction of "permanent agriculture" or "permanent
culture." Permaculture is about designing ecological human
habitats and food production systems. It is a land use
and community building movement which strives for the
harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate,
annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water
into stable, productive communities. The focus is not
on these elements themselves, but rather on the relationships
created among them by the way we place them in the landscape.
This synergy is further enhanced by mimicking patterns
found in nature.
central theme in permaculture is the design of ecological
landscapes that produce food. Emphasis is placed
on multi-use plants, cultural practices such as sheet
mulching and trellising, and the integration of animals
to recycle nutrients and graze weeds. However, permaculture
entails much more than just food production. Energy-efficient
buildings, waste water treatment, recycling, and land
stewardship in general are other important components
has expanded its purview to include economic and social
structures that support the evolution and development
of more permanent communities, such as co-housing projects
and eco-villages. As such, permaculture design concepts
are applicable to urban as well as rural settings, and
are appropriate for single households as well as whole
farms and villages. "Integrated farming" and "ecological
engineering" are terms sometimes used to describe permaculture,
with "cultivated ecology" perhaps coming the closest.
Holmgren: Born in Fremantle, Western
Australia. His interests gravitated towards ecology-agriculture
and landscape design. A close association over two years
with Bill Mollison produced an incredible garden and the
manuscript which became Permaculture One. Following graduation
in Environmental Design in 1976 David expanded his practical
skills through building, gardening and bush living.
Since then work as a designer and teacher has involved
him in projects all over Australia, Europe, the Mid East,
Africa and elsewhere. He has written several more books,
developed properties using permaculture principles, conducted
many workshops and courses. He has consulted and supervised
on urban and rural projects in Australia and New Zealand.
the growing and international permaculture movement, David
is respected for his commitment to presenting permaculture
ideas through practical projects and teaching by personal
example, that a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic,
attractive and powerful alternative to dependent consumerism.
home (Hepburn Permaculture Gardens in central Victoria)
with his partner, Su Dennett, David is the vegetable gardener,
silviculturalist, builder and general fix it man. The
Fryers Forest Ecovillage, also in central Victoria, has
been his prime focus in recent years, where he performed
many roles including planner and project manager. As well
as constant involvement in the practical side of permaculture,
David is passionate about the philosophical and conceptual
foundations for sustainability which are the focus of
his new book PERMACULTURE:
Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability.
can also review his introductory PDF, The
Essence of Permaculture.
in the small fishing village of Stanley, Tasmania, Australia,
he left school at the age of 15 to help run the family
bakery. Between then and 1954, he held a variety of jobs
including seaman, shark fisherman, mill-worker, trapper,
tractor driver and glass blower. He spent nine years in
the Wildlife Survey Section of government research organization
followed by field work with the Inland Fisheries Commission.
In 1968, he became a tutor at the University of Tasmania
and was eventually made senior lecturer in environmental
psychology. He has published works on the history and
genealogy of the Tasmania Aborigines and on the lower
vertebrates of Tasmania. In 1978, he gave up his post
at the University, and with a group of other adults and
children, founded the Tagari Community in Stanley. He
has written the
and voluminous Permaculture
Design manual drawn from years of research into the
human organism and its interaction with bioregions.
From Bill Mollison:
Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable
the Permaculture Drylands Institute, published in The
Permaculture Activist (Autumn 1989): Permaculture:
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 and interacting
with the environment in mutually beneficial ways.
"As a system of design, Permaculture provides
a new vocabulary and pattern
language for observation and action, attention
and listening, that empowers people to co-design homes,
neighborhoods, and communities full of truly abundant
food, energy, habitat, water, income, and yields enough
to share." Keith Johnson, editor/writer/webguy
for the Permaculture Activist, Director of Alliance for
a Post-Petroleum Local Economy - Bloomington, IN (APPLE),
previously director / founder of Sonoma County Permaculture.
Barnes (former editor of Katuah Journal and Permaculture
Connections), Waynesville, North Carolina:
Permaculture (PERMAnent agriCULTURE or PERMAnent
CULTURE) is a sustainable design system stressing the
harmonious interrelationship of humans, plants, animals
and the Earth. To paraphrase the founder of permaculture,
designer Bill Mollison: Permaculture principles focus
on thoughtful designs for small-scale intensive systems
which are labor efficient and which use biological resources
instead of fossil fuels. Designs stress ecological connections
and closed energy and material loops. The core of permaculture
is design and the working relationships and connections
between all things. Each component in a system performs
multiple functions, and each function is supported by
many elements. Key to efficient design is observation
and replication of natural ecosystems, where designers
maximize diversity with polycultures, stress efficient
energy planning for houses and settlement, using and accelerating
natural plant succession, and increasing the highly productive
"edge-zones" within the system.
From Michael Pilarski, founder of Friends of the Trees,
published in International Green Front Report (1988):
Permaculture is: the design of land use systems
that are sustainable and environmentally sound;
the design of culturally appropriate systems which lead
to social stability; a design system characterized by
an integrated application of ecological principles in
land use; an international movement for land use planning
and design; an ethical system stressing positivism and
cooperation. In the broadest sense, permaculture refers
to land use systems which promote stability in society,
utilize resources in a sustainable way and preserve wildlife
habitat and the genetic diversity of wild and domestic
plants and animals. It is a synthesis of ecology and geography,
of observation and design. Permaculture involves ethics
of earth care because the sustainable use of land cannot
be separated from lifestyles and philosophical issues.
From a Bay Area Permaculture Group brochure, published
in West Coast Permaculture News & Gossip and Sustainable
Living Newsletter (Fall 1995): Permaculture is
a practical concept which can be applied in the city,
on the farm, and in the wilderness. Its principles
empower people to establish highly productive environments
providing for food, energy, shelter, and other material
and non-material needs, including economic. Carefully
observing natural patterns characteristic of a particular
site, the permaculture designer gradually discerns optimal
methods for integrating water catchment, human shelter,
and energy systems with tree crops, edible and useful
perennial plants, domestic and wild animals and aquaculture.
Permaculture adopts techniques and principles from ecology,
appropriate technology, sustainable agriculture, and the
wisdom of indigenous peoples. The ethical basis of permaculture
rests upon care of the earth-maintaining a system in which
all life can thrive. This includes human access to resources
and provisions, but not the accumulation of wealth, power,
or land beyond their needs.
From Robyn Francis: Permaculture encourages the restoration
of balance to our environment through the practical application
of ecological principles. In the broadest sense, Permaculture
refers to land-use systems, including human settlements,
which utilize resources in a sustainable way. From a philosophy
of cooperation with nature and each other, of caring for
the earth and people, it presents an approach to designing
environments which have the diversity, stability and resilience
of natural ecosystems, to regenerate damaged land and
preserve environments which are still intact.
Permaculture is a practical concept applicable from a
balcony to the farm, from the city to the wilderness,
enabling us to establish productive environments providing
our food, energy, shelter, material and non-material needs,
as well as the social and economic infrastructures that
Permaculture is a synthesis of ecology and geography,
observation and design. Permaculture encompasses all aspects
of human environments and culture, urban and rural, and
their local and global impact. It involves ethics of earth
care because the sustainable use of land and resources
cannot be separated from lifestyle and philosophical issues.
Permaculture draws from the wisdoms of sustainable indigenous
and traditional cultures and synthesises these with contemporary
earth and design sciences. Permaculture is growing and
being constantly enriched by the experiments, insights,
creativity and experience of the individuals and communities
that practice it. Permaculture is design - a conscious
process involving the placement and planning of elements,
things and processes in relationship to each other. As
such it is a way of thinking, and it is our thought patterns
that determine our actions, so permaculture becomes a
way of living.
is one of the most holistic, integrated systems analysis
and design methodologies found in the world.
can be applied to create productive ecosystems from
the human- use standpoint or to help degraded ecosystems
recover health and wildness.
can be applied in any ecosystem, no matter how degraded.
values and validates traditional knowledge and experience.
incorporates sustainable agriculture practices and land
management techniques and strategies from around the
is a bridge between traditional cultures and emergent
promotes organic agriculture which does not use pesticides
to pollute the environment.
aims to maximize symbiotic and synergistic relationships
between site components.
is urban planning as well as rural land design.
design is site specific, client specific, and culture
Pilarski, Michael (ed.) 1994. Restoration Forestry. Kivaki
Press, Durango, CO. pp. 450.
Practical Application of Permaculture is not limited to
plant and animal agriculture, but also includes
community planning and development, use of appropriate
technologies (coupled with an adjustment of lifestyle),
and adoption of concepts and philosophies that are both
earth-based and people-centered, such as bioregionalism.
Many of the appropriate technologies advocated by permaculturists
are well known. Among these are solar and wind power,
composting toilets, solar greenhouses, energy efficient
housing, and solar food cooking and drying. Due to the
inherent sustainability of perennial cropping systems,
permaculture places a heavy emphasis on tree crops. Systems
that integrate annual and perennial crops-such as alley
cropping and agroforestry-take advantage of "the edge
effect," increase biological diversity, and offer other
characteristics missing in mono- culture systems. Thus,
multicropping systems that blend woody perennials and
annuals hold promise as viable techniques for large-scale
farming. Ecological methods of production for any specific
crop or farming system (e.g., soil building practices,
biological pest control, composting) are central to permaculture
as well as to sustainable agriculture in general.
permaculture is not a production system, per se, but rather
a land use and community planning philosophy,
it is not limited to a specific method of production.
Furthermore, as permaculture principles may be adapted
to farms or villages worldwide, it is site specific and
therefore amenable to locally adapted techniques of production.
As an example, standard organic farming and gardening
techniques utilizing cover crops, green manures, crop
rotation, and mulches are emphasized in permacultural
systems. However, there are many other options and technologies
available to sustainable farmers working within a permacultural
framework (e.g., chisel plows, no-till implements, spading
implements, compost turners, rotational grazing). The
decision as to which "system" is employed is site-specific
and management dependent.
systems and techniques commonly associated with permaculture
include agro- forestry, swales, contour plantings, Keyline
agriculture (soil and water management), hedgerows and
windbreaks, and integrated farming systems such as pond-dike
aquaculture, aquaponics, intercropping, and polyculture.
Gardening and recycling methods common to permaculture
include edible landscaping, keyhole gardening, companion
planting, trellising, sheet mulching, chicken tractors,
solar greenhouses, spiral herb gardens, swales, and vermicomposting.
Water collection, management, and reuse systems like Keyline,
greywater, rain catchment, constructed wetlands, aquaponics
(the integration of hydroponics with recirculating aquaculture),
and solar aquatic ponds (also known as Living Machines)
play an important role in permaculture designs.
Ethics of Permaculture:
is unique among alternative farming systems (e.g., organic,
sustainable, eco-agriculture, biodynamic) in that it works
with a set of ethics that suggest we think and act responsibly
in relation to each other and the earth. The
ethics of permaculture provide a sense of place in the
larger scheme of things, and serve as a guidepost to right
livelihood in concert with the global community and the
environment, rather than individualism and indifference.
Care of the Earth ...includes all living and non-living
things– plants, animals, land, water and air
Care of People ...promotes self-reliance and community
responsibility– access to resources necessary for existence
3. Setting Limits to Population & Consumption ...gives
away surplus– contribution of surplus time, labor, money,
information, and energy to achieve the aims of earth
and people care.
also acknowledges a basic life ethic, which recognizes
the intrinsic worth of every living thing. A
tree has value in itself, even if it presents no commercial
value to humans. That the tree is alive and functioning
is worthwhile. It is doing its part in nature: recycling
litter, producing oxygen, sequestering carbon dioxide,
sheltering animals, building soils, and so on.
Holmgren's Principles for Permaculture Design
Can also be viewed at: http://www.holmgren.com.au/html/Writings/Writings.html.
principles are brief statements or slogans that can be remembered
as a checklist when considering the complex options for
design and evolution of ecological support systems. These
principles can be seen as universal, although the methods
that express them will vary greatly according to place and
situation. Fundamentally, permaculture design principles
arise from a way of perceiving the world that is often described
as 'systems thinking' and 'design thinking.'
OBSERVE AND INTERACT
2. CAPTURE & STORE ENERGY
3. GET A YIELD
4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK
5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES
6. PRODUCE NO WASTE
7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS
8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE
9. USE SMALL AND SLOW SOLUTIONS
10. USE AND VALUE DIVERSITY
11. USE EDGES AND VALUE THE MARGINAL
12. CREATIVELY USE AND RESPOND TO CHANGE
1: OBSERVE AND INTERACT
Good design depends on a free and harmonious relationship
between nature and people, in which careful observation
and thoughtful interaction provide the design inspiration,
repertoire and patterns. It is not something that is generated
in isolation, but through continuous and reciprocal interaction
with the subject.
more conservative and socially bonded agrarian communities,
the ability of some individuals to stand back from, observe
and interpret both traditional and modern methods of land
use, is a powerful tool in evolving new and more appropriate
systems. While complete change within communities is always
more difficult for a host of reasons, the presence of locally
evolved models, with its roots in the best of traditional
and modern ecological design, is more likely to be successful
than a pre-designed system introduced from outside. Further,
a diversity of such local models would naturally generate
innovative elements which can cross-fertilise similar innovations
2: CATCH AND STORE ENERGY
live in a world of unprecedented wealth resulting from the
harvesting of the enormous storages of fossil fuels created
by the earth over billions of years. We have used
some of this wealth to increase our harvest of the Earth's
renewable resources to an unsustainable degree. Most of
the adverse impacts of this over-harvesting will show up
as available fossil fuels decline. In financial language,
we have been living by consuming global capital in a reckless
manner that would send any business bankrupt.
concepts of wealth have led us to ignore opportunities to
capture local flows of both renewable and non-renewable
forms of energy. Identifying and acting on these opportunities
can provide the energy with which we can rebuild capital,
as well as provide us with an"income" for our
of the sources of energy include:
* Sun, wind and runoff water flows
* Wasted resources from agricultural, industrial and commercial
most important storages of future value include:
* Fertile soil with high humus content
* Perennial vegetation systems, especially trees, yield
food and other useful resources
* Water bodies and tanks
* Passive solar buildings
3: OBTAIN A YIELD
previous principle focused our attention on the need to
use existing wealth to make long-term investments in natural
capital. But there is no point in attempting to plant a
forest for the grandchildren if we haven't got enough to
principle reminds us that we should design any system to
provide for self-reliance at all levels (including ourselves),
by using captured and stored energy effectively to maintain
the system and capture more energy.
immediate and truly useful yields, whatever we design and
develop will tend to wither while elements that do generate
immediate yield will proliferate. Whether we attribute it
to nature, market forces or human greed, systems that most
effectively obtain a yield, and use it most effectively
to meet the needs of survival, tend to prevail over alternatives.
4: APPLY SELF-REGULATION AND ACCEPT FEEDBACK
principle deals with self-regulatory aspects of permaculture
design that limit or discourage inappropriate growth or
behavior. With better understanding of how positive and
negative feedbacks work in nature, we can design systems
that are more self-regulating, thus reducing the work involved
in repeated and harsh corrective management.
and regulating systems might be said to be the 'Holy Grail'
of permaculture: an ideal that we strive for but might never
fully achieve. Much of this is achieved by application of
the Integration and Diversity (Permaculture design principles
8 & 10) but it is also fostered by making each element
within a system as self-reliant as is energy efficient.
A system composed of self-reliant elements is more robust
to disturbance. Use of tough, semi-wild and self-reproducing
crop varieties and livestock breeds, instead of highly bred
and dependent ones is a classic permaculture strategy that
exemplifies this principle. On a larger scale, self-reliant
farmers were once recognized as the basis of a strong and
independent country. Today's globalize economies make for
greater instability where effects cascade around the world.
Rebuilding self-reliance at both the element and system
level increases resilience.
5: USE AND VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES AND SERVICES
resources are those that are renewed and replaced by natural
processes over reasonable periods, without the need for
major non-renewable inputs. In the language of business,
renewable resources should be seen as our sources of income,
while non-renewable resources can be thought of as capital
assets. Spending our capital assets for day-to-day living
is unsustainable in anyone's language. Permaculture design
should aim to make best use of renewable natural resources
to manage and maintain yields, even if some use of non-renewable
resources is needed in establishing systems.
services (or passive functions) are those we gain from plants,
animals and living soil and water, without them being consumed.
For example, when we use a tree for wood we are using a
renewable resource, but when we use a tree for shade and
shelter, we gain benefits from the living tree that are
non-consuming and require no harvesting energy. This simple
understanding is obvious and yet powerful in redesigning
systems where many simple functions have become dependent
on non-renewable and unsustainable resource use.
6: PRODUCE NO WASTE
principle brings together traditional values of frugality
and care for material goods, the modern concern about pollution,
and the more radical perspective that sees wastes as resources
and opportunities. The earthworm is a suitable icon for
this principle because it lives by consuming plant litter
(wastes), which it converts into humus that improves the
soil environment for itself, for soil micro-organisms, and
for the plants. Thus the earthworm, like all living things,
is a part of a web where the outputs of one are the inputs
industrial processes that support modern life can be characterized
by an input-output model, in which the inputs are natural
materials and energy, while the outputs are useful things
and services. However, when we step back from this process
and take a long-term view, we can see all these useful things
end up as wastes (mostly in rubbish tips) and that even
the most ethereal of services required the degradation of
energy and resources to wastes. This model might therefore
be better characterized as "consume/excrete".
The view of people as simply consumers and excreters might
be biological, but it is not ecological.
7: DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS
first six principles tend to consider systems from the bottom-up
perspective of elements, organisms, and individuals. The
second six principles tend to emphasis the top-down perspective
of the patterns and relationships that tend to emerge by
system self-organization and co-evolution. The commonality
of patterns observable in nature and society allows us to
not only make sense of what we see, but to use a pattern
from one context and scale, to design in another. Pattern
recognition is an outcome of the application of Principle
1: Observe and interact, and is the necessary precursor
to the process of design.
idea which initiated permaculture was the forest as a model
for agriculture. While not new, its lack of application
and development across many bioregions and cultures was
an opportunity to apply one of the most common ecosystem
models to human land use. Although many critiques and limitations
to the forest model need to be acknowledged, it remains
a powerful example of pattern thinking which continues to
inform permaculture and related concepts, such as forest
gardening, agroforestry and analogue forestry.
use of zones of intensity of use around an activity center
such as a farmhouse to help in the placement of elements
and subsystems is an example of working from pattern to
details. Similarly environmental factors of sun, wind, flood,
and fire can be arranged in sectors around the same focal
point. These sectors have both a bioregional and a site
specific character which the permaculture designer carries
in their head to make sense of a site and help organize
appropriate design elements into a workable system.
8: INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE
every aspect of nature, from the internal workings of organisms
to whole ecosystems, we find the connections between things
are as important as the things themselves. Thus the purpose
of a functional and self-regulating design is to place elements
in such a way that each serves the needs and accepts the
products of other elements.
principle focuses more closely on the different types of
relationships that draw elements together in more closely
integrated systems, and on improved methods of designing
communities of plants, animals and people to gain benefits
from these relationships.
correct placement of plants, animals, earthworks and other
infrastructure it is possible to develop a higher degree
of integration and self-regulation without the need for
constant human input in corrective management. For example,
the scratching of poultry under forage forests can be used
to harvest litter to down slope garden systems by appropriate
location. Herbaceous and woody weed species in animal pasture
systems often contribute to soil improvement, biodiversity,
medicinal and other special uses. Appropriate rotationally
grazed livestock can often control these weedy species without
eliminating them and their values completely.
developing an awareness of the importance of relationships
in the design of self-reliant systems, two statements in
permaculture literature and teaching have been central:
1. Each element performs many functions.
2. Each important function is supported by many elements.
connections or relationships between elements of an integrated
system can vary greatly. Some may be predatory or competitive;
others are co-operative, or even symbiotic. All these types
of relationships can be beneficial in building a strong
integrated system or community, but permaculture strongly
emphasizes building mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationships.
This is based on two beliefs:
1. We have a cultural disposition to see and believe in
predatory and competitive relationships, and discount
co-operative and symbiotic relationships, in nature and
2. Co-operative and symbiotic relationships will be more
adaptive in a future of declining energy.
9: USE SMALL AND SLOW SOLUTIONS
should be designed to perform functions at the smallest
scale that is practical and energy-efficient for that function.
Human scale and capacity should be the yardstick for a humane,
democratic and sustainable society.
example, in forestry, fast growing trees are often short
lived, while some apparently slow growing but more valuable
species accelerate and even surpass the fast species in
their second and third decades. A small plantation of thinned
and pruned trees can yield more total value than a large
plantation without management.
10: USE AND VALUE DIVERSITY
great diversity of forms, functions and interactions in
nature and humanity are the source of evolved systemic complexity.
The role and value of diversity in nature, culture and permaculture
is itself complex, dynamic, and at times apparently contradictory.
Diversity needs to be seen as a result of the balance and
tension in nature between variety and possibility on the
one hand, and productivity and power on the other.
is now widely recognized that monoculture is a major cause
of vulnerability to pests and diseases, and therefore of
the widespread use of toxic chemicals and energy to control
these. Polyculture (the cultivation of many plant and/or
animal species and varieties within an integrated system)
is one of the most important and widely recognized applications
of the use of diversity to reduce vulnerability to pests,
adverse seasons and market fluctuations. Polyculture also
reduces reliance on market systems, and bolsters household
and community self-reliance by providing a wider range of
goods and services.
11: USE EDGES AND VALUE THE MARGINAL
estuaries are a complex interface between land and sea that
can be seen as a great ecological trade market between these
two great domains of life. The shallow water allows penetration
of sunlight for algae and plant growth, as well as providing
forage areas for wading and other birds. The fresh water
from catchment streams rides over the heavier saline water
that pulses back and forth with the daily tides, redistributing
nutrients and food for the teeming life.
every terrestrial ecosystem, the living soil, which may
only be a few centimeters deep, is an edge or interface
between non-living mineral earth and the atmosphere. For
all terrestrial life, including humanity, this is the most
important edge of all. Only a limited number of hardy species
can thrive in shallow, compacted and poorly drained soil,
which has insufficient interface. Deep, well-drained and
aerated soil is like a sponge, a great interface that supports
productive and healthy plant life.
principle works from the premise that the value and contribution
of edges, and the marginal and invisible aspects of any
system should not only be recognized and conserved, but
that expansion of these aspects can increase system productivity
and stability. For example, increasing the edge between
field and pond can increase the productivity of both. Alley
farming and shelterbelt forestry can be seen as systems
where increasing edge between field and forest has contributed
12: CREATIVELY USE AND RESPOND TO CHANGE
is about the durability of natural living systems and human
culture, but this durability paradoxically depends in large
measure on flexibility and change. Many stories and traditions
have the theme that within the greatest stability lie the
seeds of change. Science has shown us that the apparently
solid and permanent is, at the cellular and atomic level,
a seething mass of energy and change, similar to the descriptions
in various spiritual traditions.
acceleration of ecological succession within cultivated
systems is the most common expression of this principle
in permaculture literature and practice, and illustrates
the first thread. For example, the use of fast growing nitrogen
fixing trees to improve soil, and to provide shelter and
shade for more valuable slow growing food trees, reflects
an ecological succession process from pioneers to climax.
The progressive removal of some or all of the nitrogen fixers
for fodder and fuel as the tree crop system matures shows
the success. The seed in the soil capable of regeneration
after natural disaster or land use change (e.g. to an annual
crop phase) provides the insurance to re-establish the system
in the future.
Principles of Permaculture Design (Mollison):
permaculture ethics are more akin to broad moral values
or codes of behavior, the principles of permaculture provide
a set of universally applicable guidelines which can be
used in designing sustainable habitats. Distilled from
multiple disciplines–ecology, energy conservation, landscape
design, and environmental science–these principles are
inherent in any permaculture design, in any climate, and
at any scale. The following is a list of these principles.
Relative Location: Components placed in a system are viewed
relatively, not in isolation.
Functional Relationship between components: Everything
is connected to everything else.
3. Recognize functional relationships between elements:
Every function is supported by many elements.
Redundancy: Good design ensures that all important functions
can withstand the failure of one or more element. Design
Every element is supported by many functions: Each element
we include is a system, chosen and placed so that it performs
as many functions as possible.
Local Focus: "Think globally - Act locally" Grow your
own food, cooperate with neighbors. Community efficiency
Diversity: As a general rule, as sustainable systems mature
they become increasingly diverse in both space and time.
What is important is the complexity of the functional
relationships that exist between elements not the number
Use Biological Resources: We know living things reproduce
and build up their availability over time, assisted by
their interaction with other compatible elements. Use
and reserve biological intelligence.
One Calorie In/One Calorie Out: Do not consume or export
more biomass than carbon fixed by the solar budget.
Stocking: Finding the balance of various elements to keep
one from overpowering another over time. How much of an
element needs to be produced in order to fulfill the need
of whole system?
11. Stacking: Multilevel functions for single element
(stacking functions). Multilevel garden design, i.e.,
trellising, forest garden, vines, groundcovers, etc.
Succession: Recognize that certain elements prepare the
way for systems to support other elements in the future,
i.e.: succession planting.
Use Onsite Resources: Determine what resources are available
and entering the system on their own and maximize their
Edge Effect: Ecotones are the most diverse and fertile
area in a system. Two ecosystems come together to form
a third which has more diversity than either of the other
two, i.e.: edges of ponds, forests, meadows, currents
Energy Recycling: Yields from system designed to supply
onsite needs and/or needs of local region.
Small Scale: Intensive Systems start small and create
a system that is manageable and produces a high yield.
Make Least Change for the Greatest Effect: The less change
that is generated, the less embedded energy is used to
endow the system.
Planting Strategy: 1st-natives, 2nd-proven exotics, 3rd
unproven exotics - carefully on small scale with lots
Work Within Nature: Aiding the natural cycles results
in higher yield and less work. A little support goes a
Appropriate Technology: The same principles apply to cooking,
lighting, transportation, heating, sewage treatment, water
and other utilities.
Law of Return: Whatever we take, we must return Every
object must responsibly provide for its replacement.
Stress and Harmony: Stress here may be defined as either
prevention of natural function, or of forced function.
Harmony may be defined as the integration of chosen and
natural functions, and the easy supply of essential needs.
The Problem is the solution: We are the problem, we are
the solution. Turn constraints into resources. Mistakes
are tools for learning.
The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited: The
only limit on the number of uses of a resource possible
is the limit of information and imagination of designer.
Dispersal of Yield Over Time: Principal of seven generations.
We can use energy to construct these systems, providing
that in their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy
that we use to construct them or to maintain them.
A Policy of Responsibility (to relinquish power): The
role of successful design is to create a self-managed
Principle of Disorder: Order and harmony produce energy
for other uses. Disorder consumes energy to no useful
end. Tidiness is maintained disorder. Chaos has form,
but is not predictable. The amplification of small fluctuations.
Entropy: In complex systems, disorder is an increasing
result. Entropy and life-force are a stable pair that
maintain the universe to infinity.
Metastability: For a complex system to remain stable,
there must be small pockets of disorder.
30. Entelechy: Principal of genetic intelligence. i.e.
The rose has thorns to protect itself.
Observation: Protracted & thoughtful observation rather
than protracted and thoughtless labor.
We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.
Wait one year: (See #31, above)
Hold water and fertility as high (in elevation) on the
landscape as possible. Its all downhill from there.
Everything gardens: All organisms participate in soil
creation by altering their habitats; rabbits mow, goats