What is permaculture?  If you have to ask that question you probably aren’t searching for my blog. But for those of you who, like me, are overwhelmed by all the information available out there on this topic, allow me to offer you a brief summary.   Simply put, permaculture is the practice of planning ecosystems that are self-sustaining. Most of permaculture focuses on observing and mimicking the systems nature herself has put into place over the eons and which have proved to be successful. When applied to agriculture, permaculture is the most “natural farming” possible. For your perusal, here are quotes from each of the permaculture greats (often credited with founding the modern movement of permaculture) with their own attempts at summary.

Permaculture is defined as consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for the provision of local needs…more precisely I see Permaculture as the use of systems thinking and design principles that provide the organising framework for implementing the above vision David Holmgren ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ 2004  

In addition to being a type of ecological design, a craft, or academic pursuit, permaculture also caries with it a set of ethical principles. These may be loosely summarized as follows:

  1. Care for the earth (reduce damages, make efforts toward reparations)
  2. Care for people (self, family, immediate community)
  3. Return “fair share” of products to the earth and others (set limits on production which are fair)

You can read more about the ethical principles of permaculture here: http://permacultureprinciples.com/ethics/ The systems of permaculture agriculture tend to follow certain trends and themes. If you like lists, here’s a list of permaculture principles: http://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/ However, this blog isn’t intended to be an academic resource about permaculture. If you’re looking for that, I think there are already highly superior options in existence. My goal here is to add the the very valuable  internet-o-pedia of personal experiences, successes and failures, with implementing the principles of permaculture in my space and time.   To close the “What” question, I believe an onslaught of photos is in order. “What” permaculture looks like varies greatly depending on climate, space, and purpose of the project, not to mention the aesthetic preferences of the creator! Here are some beautiful examples:

“Paradise Lot” created by Eric Toensmeier and Johnathan Bates on 1/10 of an acre in urban Holyoke, MA. Before.

“Paradise Lot” created by Jonathan Bates and Eric Toensmeier on 1/10th of an acre in Holyoke MA. After.

A food forest in Riverton, New Zealand, created by Robert and Robyn Guyton

“Happy Earth” farm near Wollongong, NSW Australia

A south FL food forest/permculture garden

Kitchen garden of the Permaculture Research Institute in Queensland, Australia

An urban permaculture project in Reading, UK

Though these projects may look somewhat different, they adhere to enduring themes based on the principles I linked to above. My favorite type of permaculture ecosystem, the “Food Forest” is designed the way a natural forest is, with a tall tree canopy layer, a shorter tree/shrub layer beneath that, smaller shrubs and bushes, and finally, groundcover. All this vegetation can share the same square footage space, overlapping itself slightly. This is extremely space efficient, but also allows plants which have symbiotic relationships (for example, one plant may fix nitrogen, adding it to the soil, while another uses nitrogen) to be close enough to one another to have an impact on eachother. Additionally, this more dense and shaded arrangement of plants helps decrease water loss due to evaporation, open soilspace where invasive weeds can take root, and has, I would argue, a much nicer aesthetic to it than rows upon rows of a plant monoculture.    


To read more about the above permaculture projects, please visit:



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