“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children” (Bill Mollison)
The word ‘permaculture’ comes from ‘permanent agriculture’ and ‘permanent culture’ – it is about living lightly on the planet, and making sure that we can sustain human activities for many generations to come, in harmony with nature. Permanence is not about everything staying the same. Its about stability, about deepening soils and cleaner water, thriving communities in self-reliant regions, biodiverse agriculture and social justice, peace and abundance. [the Permaculture Association, 2015]
THE 3 ETHICS CENTRAL TO PERMACULTURE
- Care for the earth
- Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
- Care for the people
- Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
- Return of surplus
- Reinvesting surpluses back into the system to provide for the first two ethics. This includes returning waste back into the system to recycle into usefulness.
THE 12 PERMACULTURE DESIGN PRINCIPLES
- Observe and interact
- By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy
- By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield
- Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
- We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services
- Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste
- By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details
- By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate
- By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions
- Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity
- Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal
- The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change
- We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
(David Holmgren, 2013)