Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering,
and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture and
self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.

The core tenets of permaculture are:

Take care of the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and
multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth,
humans cannot flourish.

Take care of the people: Provision for people to access those resources
necessary for their existence.

Set limits to consumption and reproduction, and redistribute surplus:
Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others.
We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set
resources aside to further the above principles.

Permaculture design

Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and
species assemblies. It asks the question, "Where does this element go?
How can it be placed for the maximum benefit of the system?" To answer
this question, the central concept of permaculture is maximizing useful
connections between components and synergy of the final design. The
focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but
rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are
placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and
energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between design
elements to achieve a high level of synergy. Permaculture designs evolve
over time by taking into account these relationships and elements and
can become extremely complex systems that produce a high density of food
and materials with minimal input,


Twelve design principles

Permaculturists generally regard the following as permaculture's 12
design principles:

1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can
design solutions that suit our particular situation.

2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources
at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.

3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as
part of the work that you are doing.

4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage
inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function

5. 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.

6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that
are available to us, nothing goes to waste.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.


Zones are a way of intelligently organizing design elements in a human
environment on the basis of the frequency of human use and plant or
animal needs. Frequently manipulated or harvested elements of the design
are located close to the house in zones 1 and 2. Less frequently used or
manipulated elements, and elements that benefit from isolation (such as
wild species) are farther away.

Zones is about positioning things appropriately.
Zones are numbered from 0 to 5:

Zone 0

The house, or home center. Here permaculture principles would be applied
in terms of aiming to reduce energy and water needs, harnessing natural
resources such as sunlight, and generally creating a harmonious,
sustainable environment in which to live and work. Zone 0 is an informal
designation, which is not specifically defined in Bill Mollison's book.

Zone 1

The zone nearest to the house, the location for those elements in the
system that require frequent attention, or that need to be visited often,
such as salad crops, herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries or
raspberries, greenhouse and cold frames, propagation area, worm compost
bin for kitchen waste, etc. Raised beds are often used in zone 1 in urban.

Zone 2

This area is used for siting perennial plants that require less frequent
maintenance, such as occasional weed control or pruning, including currant
bushes and orchards, pumpkins, sweet potato, etc. This would also be a good
place for beehives, larger scale composting bins, and so on.

Zone 3

The area where main-crops are grown, both for domestic use and for trade
purposes. After establishment, care and maintenance required are fairly
minimal (provided mulches and similar things are used), such as watering
or weed control maybe once a week.

Zone 4

A semi-wild area. This zone is mainly used for forage and collecting wild
food as well as production of timber for construction or firewood.

Zone 5

A wilderness area. There is no human intervention in zone 5 apart from the
observation of natural ecosystems and cycles.






Permaculture principles

Permaculture principles are derived from observing nature. They
are things we see happening in natural ecosystems that we want
to copy. We observe nature and try to mimic what it does. The
principles can be viewed as guidelines to follow when we apply

Permaculture practitioners have identified many principles, but we
are going to focus on seven basic principles which will give you
an understanding of the function and importance of permaculture

Seven principles of permaculture

1. Conservation

Use only what is needed.

For example, a family uses a hand pump, pictured right, for water
on their homestead. The hand pump encourages them to conserve water
and makes them very conscious of how much they are using so they
only use what they actually need. Another example of conserving
water is showering instead of taking a bath.

2. Stacking functions

In permaculture we speak about getting many yields (outputs) from
one element (thing) in your system.

For example, a tree might be an element in your system. A tree can
provide shade, shelter wildlife, produce mulch and building materials,
be a wind break, fertilize the soil, prevent erosion, raise the water
table, etc. A tree can do a lot of different work for us in our system,
and that's what we mean by stacking functions.

3. Repeating functions

We meet every need in multiple ways.

For example, one family meets their household need for water in two ways.
They have a spring, but in very dry years the spring dries up so they need
a backup. They also have a rooftop water catchment system so they can catch
the rainwater running off their roof for domestic purposes.

4. Reciprocity

Utilize the yields of each element to meet the needs of other elements in
the system.

This means there is a give and a take between elements. The output from
one element can be an input for another element. A good example of this
is composting. Kitchen scraps could be an output from our kitchen where
we have left over organic matter and we use that as an input to our
compost pile and when it's in the compost pile it will turn into valuable
fertilizer which we can then put on our garden. And then an output of our
garden is food which would again be an input into the kitchen. So, you can
see that the inputs and the outputs are circulating within our system.

5. Appropriate scale

What we design should be on a human scale and doable with the available
time, skills, and money that we have.

A good example of appropriate scale would be looking at a massive hydroelectric
dam which can severely disrupt the patterns of flow of a river or a stream and
also cause flooding and loss of habitat compared to a small hydroelectric
generator which could be used to generate electricity from a small stream without
diverting the flow, without causing flooding or disruption. So using a micro
hydroelectric generator is probably much more of an "appropriate scale" than
creating a large dam.

6. Diversity

We want to create resilience by utilizing many elements.

We can contrast a garden which has a variety of plants in it with a field
containing only wheat (monocropping). If you have a drought year or a wet
year or if you have a certain kind of pest, all the wheat will probably be
susceptible to the same condition or pest and you might lose your whole crop.
But if you have a system that's mixed, with a variety of crops or plants,
they might not all be susceptible. You might have some plants that are drought
tolerant, others that do better in wetter conditions - if you have a drought
year you'll just lose some of your plants, but you'll still have others that
will do well. So, the idea is that the way to create a resilient system that
can survive and get through difficulties is by having many different elements.

7. Give away the surplus

Create systems that are abundant and share the abundance rather than hoarding
it for ourselves.

An example of this is the perennial plant nursery at Port Street in Baltimore,
MD. When plant nurseries in the local area have extra stock they donate it to
this nursery and the Port Street nursery gives it away for free to community
groups that are doing improvement work in downtown neighborhoods. That's a
really nice way of sharing the abundance.

What are some principles of permaculture?




12 Principles of Permaculture by David Holmgren

The 15 pamphlets Permaculture Design

Attainable Sustainable

David Holmgren's web site

Die Hard Survivor

DIY Bullseye

Ethics and principles of permaculture (Holmgren's)

Holistic Living Tips

The Garden Helper

Looby Macnamara

Permaculture Apprentice

The Permaculture Association - UK

Permaculture a Beginners Guide

The Permaculture Research Institute

The Permaculture Student

Permanent Culture Now

Permaculture Knowledge Base

Permaculture Principles

Permaculture the sustainable farm of the future?

Permaculture Sustainability and sustainable development

Polar Permaculture

Preparedness Mama

Principles of permaculture

The principles of permaculture

Regenerative Magazine

The Shining Earth

TV Permacultura

The Worldwide Permaculture Network



The Plant Encyclopedia