Sunday, March 8, 2009

Some Permaculture Thoughts

Last fall, I went to a basic permaculture training. It was two weeks in New York state. I loved it. It is time for me to revisit some of the ideas I learned and I thought I would do that through this blog so I could share the thoughts and information. This is the first installment.

First of all, there is a lot of misconception about what permaculture is. Most people conjure up images of fanciful gardens and maybe a composting toilet when they hear the word permaculture. And although these may be part of a permaculture design, they in no way encompass it. Permaculture is a design system. A way of looking at something, thinking about something and planning something. It is applicable to anything that you design. And we are arranging and planning things all the time. You could apply permaculture principles to arranging your desk, planning how your kitchen is set up or use it to design an intentional living community. Only your imagination limits the ways to use design principles of permaculture.

There are a couple of questions that should be asked when planning a system. The first of which is, is what we're doing something that cares for the earth? Permaculture is designed to help you create systems that are not only sustainable but that aim to be regenerative. If you are planning a garden, your goal will be to actually help to restore the soil and ecosystem. This will become more clear as we discuss the principles in more depth. A second question that needs to be asked is, will this design care for people? Again, in permaculture, ethics is an important consideration when designing a system. It is imperative if we are to create sustainable caring communities that we consider how we are impacting both the earth and other people. Currently the way most systems are designed, they are created without these two concepts in mind. Think of your local grocery store, it is not set up in a way to care for the earth or people. It is designed to illicit a shopping response and to manipulate the way you shop. It's goal is to get you to buy more groceries. Think about how local communities are planned. Again, it becomes pretty clear, pretty fast that these systems are not designed with people or the planet in mind. I think this will be a necessary shift in focus for us to create the kind of place where most of us would want to live if we were to have a choice. It will also be a necessary shift as we move towards sustainability and not the plunder of people and the earth.


  1. I will be looking forward to your posts on this subject with great anticipation and delight. It is a subject that holds great interest to me, and that I am always exploring.

  2. Sustainable gardening can go a long way to maintianing our earths precarious natural balance.