Passion #2: Permaculture

I wanted to start my revived blog by writing about 5 passions in my life. This one is about permaculture:

Permaculture has given me a new lens to look at land and design – a lens that has renewed my hope for our future. I was introduced to permaculture in December 2011 while I was living in Kenya. I completed a two week course to obtain a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC). This course was facilitated by Warren Brush, a teacher from Quail Springs in California. I’m now working towards my permaculture diploma which consists of 10 projects where I  demonstrate  integration of the permaculture principles.

Permaculture is…

Permaculture is a conscious design science that integrates ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture and agro-forestry in creating a rich and sustainable way of living. Following a permaculture design process can help us understand our connections to each other and the world around us. It also enables us understand patterns found in nature – learning from them and working with them, rather than against.

Permaculture was borne out of the common themes and practices that enabled certain societies to successfully sustain themselves and their surrounding environments for thousands of years. These case studies demonstrate methods of how we can design out pollution, avoid deforestation and prevent soil loss – three problems that threaten our survival.

Permaculture derives from the words ‘PERMAnent agriCULTURE’. Since its foundations in the 1970s by two Australians, David Holmgren and Bill Mollison, permaculture has developed beyond its roots of creating sustainable food growing methods to become a worldwide movement encompassing all aspects of how we as human beings can live harmoniously in relation to our Earth and it’s finite resources – a ‘PERMAnent CULTURE’.

Bill Mollison & Masanobu Fukuoka
Bill Mollison & Masanobu Fukuoka. (Credit: Permaculture Planet, shared under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license).

At the heart of permaculture are three core values: 1) Care for the planet 2) Care for people and 3) Fairshare. When designing a space or project, permaculture offers a set of principles that can help us intelligently approach design to create highly productive, closed loop systems, inspired by the natural patterns found in nature. Practitioners of permaculture benefit from sharing a common language to systems design. 

Some resources

There’s many places to learn about permaculture. A Permaculture Design Course is a good place to start. In the UK, most of these will be listed on the Permaculture Association’s website.

Books: there’s some great publications out there. For general permaculture The most famous is Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Design Manual. Unfortunately, it’s not so cheap. Gaia’s Garden is a useful for home-scale permaculture and the author Toby Hemenway has a long list of recommended reading on his website.

There’s also lots of videos online. Here’s one from Warren Brush, explaining more about permaculture: