What I like most about permaculture is its flexibility and adaptability, the fact that permaculture is something that everybody can use the way they want or need (or at least that’s how I see it). So I’ve decided to write down my understanding of permaculture.
Permaculture is a way of thinking that connects all the elements in a system in a way that they work together, create a whole, and that the potentials of each element, as well as the whole, are used to the maximum. It is not related only to gardening and farming, as a lot of people seem to think, but rather it is something we can use in our everyday life. It is simultaneously a tool, a philosophy, a practice and a global movement.
Wikipedia says that “permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design that develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems”. But I prefer Bill Mollison’s definition:
“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system”.
So, permaculture has to do with nature, ecology, design and sustainability. The concept was developed in the 1970s in Australia by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. The word “permaculture” has in itself the meaning of permanent agriculture but also permanent culture. It is based on three ethical principles – care for the earth, care for the people and fair share (or return of surplus).
Permaculture relies on smart planning and design that maximises the functionality of a system. When designing we look at the big picture, but we also have to take into account the needs and the proceeds (or products) of the parts that create the system. Permaculture is very logical – we think about what comes in, what comes out and how to use it best. It mimics nature, learning by careful observation. And it involves all spheres of life.