What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is the conscious design AND maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which are characterized by biodiversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. Permaculture is a harmonious integration of people and landscapes, which in a sustainable manner provides food, energy, shelter and other material AND non-material needs (Bill Mollison, A Designer’s Manual)… (Note: the word AND is written in uppercase twice, mostly because we noticed that people somehow tend to exclude or forget the details about maintenance or non-material needs).

Permaculture is a complex word coined from two others: permanent and agriculture (Permanent Agriculture). The word was not coined by Mr. Bill Mollison, it was just revitalized by him. Yes, revitalized 🙂 … The word Permaculture appears for the first time in the book Farmers of Forty Centuries, Or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan, in 1911 by F. H. King, agronomist.

Permaculture is an interdisciplinary science about the Earth. It combines many of the classical sciences and directs them to the care about the Earth, care about people, and wise control of the population and consumption of material goods.

Permaculture is an inclusive, comprehensive Earth Science that deals with all aspects of sustainability of the human species, respecting all forms of life and the realization of life in harmony with nature. It includes, but is not limited to gardening and organic food production, reduction or elimination of the waste and / or pollution of the planet, sustainable construction, the use of renewable energy sources, commonsense design of human habitats and design of human communities (social component). In agriculture, it refers to the application of sustainable methods and enrichment of the soil and other natural resources. In architecture and construction it refers to usage of natural building materials, energy-efficiency of buildings. In the Energy sector, permaculture is focused on the use of energy embodied in the landscape and renewable energy sources. In the social part, permaculture is about to form a horizontal, non-hierarchical society.

After almost 50 years of worldwide practice, it seems that it’s not always clear what is Permaculture…. Even Mr. Bill Mollison once said (in an 1991 interview for an American newspaper): from the time when permaculture was structured through the Systems Science and other elements (agriculture, sociology, Taoism, energy, etc.) very many people approached to permaculture and brought lots of new things, but most of it is not permaculture. Today, a quarter century later, it is still not clear what is permaculture in reality. Is it a movement? Should it represent political views or not? Is it activism? Is it gardening, construction or urban permaculture? Is it developed into a full blooded culture, or is it still the original permanent agriculture? Is permaculture contributing to the universal media industry of fear or is it filled with offered solutions? Nobody really knows if permies around the World respect ethical principles of permaculture and embedded them in their everyday lives…