Permaculture is a design system for sustainability, created in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Originally a contraction of “permanent” and “agriculture”, permaculture at the outset focused on creating abundant, polyculture agricultural systems that mimicked nature in order to ensure food for the future. Permaculture is now seen as a contraction of “permanent” and “culture”, and its designs extend well beyond the agricultural and even material spheres, combating global challenges through local empowerment.
It is composed of a design process which adheres to 3 core ethics and is structured around a set of principles. At the center of the diagram are the three core ethics, earth care, people care and fair share (originally: set limits and redistribute surplus). Around the ethics are the principles. The exact principles vary from practitioner to practitioner, but this set is widely used.
Many people attribute certain practices to permaculture, such as forest gardening, and recognize elements of other practices, such as holistic management and agroecology, in permaculture projects. While there are certain techniques that are commonly seen in permaculture projects, permaculture, as a design system, adapts to the given constraints and goals of a particular situation, so the techniques employed will depend on the particular project.
Permaculture’s principles and ethics will inform our project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and our projects will teach permaculture explicitly.