Pioneered by the teachings of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, permaculture uses knowledge of natural ecological systems to plan, manage, and integrate humanity supporting systems.
“Ecological design is predicated upon place. Each garden, each valley and each region is different. These differences, in the hands of an Earth steward, can be honored and used toward creative and diverse ends. Each garden [home landscape] is a reflection of the potential of place and the intimacy with which the gardener can connect with the needs and latent forces of the land.” – John Todd, in his Foreword to the first edition of Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2000: xiii
Permaculture is “one of the principal foundations of the Transition concept” (Rob Hopkins, The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience” 2008-9: 136).
“Permaculture is a design system based on ecological principles which provides the organising framework for implementing a permanent or sustainable culture. It . . . draws together together the diverse skills and ways of living which need to be rediscovered and developed to empower us to move from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers.” – David Holmgren, quoted in Hopkins 2008-9: 138.
In discussing his holistic land management approach, Allan Savory gives an interesting perspective on permaculture, placing it in the context of homesite management. Savory’s work on holistic land management refers to much larger scale infrastructure needs and the long-term planning needs of large scale grazing systems. Smaller tracts of land, such as those surrounding a homesite, might require more minimal infrastructure, including “technology that enables one to recycle household wastes or a cistern for storing rainwater collected on rooftops, small stock pens, or a web of foot paths. But the emphasis in such cases in on planning for different vegetation patterns – the siting of trees, shrubs, vegetable gardens, and so on, rather than major physical developments. This sort of planning is something that those familiar with the principles of permaculture design have addressed very well.” (Allan Savory, Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making, Second Edition, 1999: 461)
For more information on Permaculture, see the discussion of Permaculture in our Focus On section and its mention in Tom Church’s “Organized Localization” essay in the 2017 Sustainable Lehigh Valley/Directory.