Permaculture is a design-based agricultural system. The foundations of permaculture are rooted in its three ethics which guide its 12 design principles. These design principles are thinking tools that allow us to re-design our environment and re-think our behavior in a world of limited energy and resources. The goal of permaculture is to form a harmonious balance among all life forms and establish self-sufficient ecosystems. Permacultural systems model systems in nature – such as nature’s ability to create food, sustain biodiversity, regenerate and evolve – to protect, repair, and enrich the places where we live, work, and play.
Unlike traditional farming and gardening methods, permaculture embodies the traits of a closed-loop energy system – we produce what is needed, wherever we are, and feed any waste back into the system. Observe energy capture, capture, use, re-use, and transfer in efforts to feed, clothe, transport, educate, and empower society opens opportunities for rethinking and rechanging our modes of operation. Permacultural systems use multi-functional design components strategically planned and placed within the lifecycle of a system. For example, a fence to contain animals could also function as a windbreak, a trellis, and a reflective surface to re-direct light and heat to nearby plants; a rain barrel used to raise aquatic food-plants and fish could double as water for irrigation. Permaculturists call this “stacking functions.”
Activity 1 – Diagramming Permaculture
Since permaculture is a complex set of influences and systems, it combines guiding themes (ethics of care), principles, and areas of influence. Draw a diagram of the three ethics, twelve principles, and seven domains of permaculture.
Activity 2 – Local Permaculture
What kinds of plants, specifically food-plants, can you find growing where you live? Are these plants seasonal, or do they grow all year round? Are some fast growing with multiple harvests? Are others seasonal producers? Draw three food plants that commonly grow in your neighborhood and chart their growing period of dates and time to harvest.
Activity 3 – Permaculture Gardening
What systems can you design/modify to operate on a smaller scale to be implemented in your own home, influencing all-inclusive care and well-being? What kind of crops would you like to grow? What will you do to manage all your crops? Now that you know local plants, using these plants and what you’ve learned about them and design a permaculture garden with your house as the center point. How will you, and those around you, benefit from this (friends, family, community, neighborhood)? Pick a place that can become a personal garden. Diagram circles of care for this garden on your property from the closest to the house with daily care to zones that take intermediate and then infrequent care.
Activity 4 – Permaculture Production Cycle
What is your favorite food or drink? Think about production and the consequences of the production process. Watch the Story of Stuff. How could items be produced and delivered within a permaculture-like system? What difference can you imagine? Diagram an item that is produced with more care for the earth.
Activity 5 – A Permaculture World
How do we create the world we want in a positive way? Permaculture is a way to change the world. We can rethink the ways we do things, seemingly minute; this can be the way to bring about change. What aspects of the way you live can be improved? How can you integrate a permaculture lifestyle? Draw the earth and note several permacultural initiatives that can change current production and consumption.
- Permaculture is a series of intricately designed systems with a collective purpose to establish nurture, balance, and responsibility between the produce and the consumers
- Permaculture can be a lifestyle.
- Ethics of Permaculture include