Monday, 19 January 2015

Permaculture Principles

"The greater number of self-supporters, the faster will be the rate of improvement, that creation of technologies designed to lead people to self-reliance, work-enjoyment, creativity, and therefore the good life."   ~ Dr E.E. Schumacher

Last month  I wrote about the ethics of permaculture. From next month I want to start  a series writing about one of the principles of permaculture each month.  There are 12 principles so the series will continue through until January next year. 

The ethics and principles of permaculture can be applied in our daily lives to help us build resilience and abundance. The principles are:

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and store energy
  3. Obtain a yield
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

In my opinion knowing there are ethics and principles underpinning permaculture is so important.  Why? Because I think a system of practices, or a way of doing something can easily become prescriptive. "You must do things this way", or "you can’t do that". Contrast this with a design system based on principles – it allows for the individual to follow their own path. Using these principles people can solve problems based on what will work in their situation – not based on a 'one size fits all' solution.  Principles provide scope for positive action.  On the other hand prescriptions or recipes may provide positive action for some people, but be misleading or oppressive for others, as one size never fits all.

Are you familiar with permaculture? What are your views regarding the permaculture principles?


  1. I think the flexibility of permaculture is a very important aspect and some people don't realize how flexible it is and think it to be complicated. I am always telling people that anyone can practice using permaculture principles. I really love and connect with every principle that makes up the twelve principles of permaculture.

    1. The flexibility is great, it allows so many people to come up with so many innovative ways of creating a sustainable/regenerative lifestyle.

      I was reading some of my permaculture course information this morning and found it very interesting. It gave one of the definitions of permaculture as applied ecological design. I thought that was a very good description. The information paper also made the point that permaculture design is "the important activity" and that "ecological principles are an important factor". These two things together "lead to living more sustainably". And the notes also make the point that the permaculture principles guide the design no matter where or what one is designing.

      In a couple of weeks I will be starting my next unit of study in the course and this unit includes doing a base site map, which will be interesting and challenging.

  2. I love that first quote on this post - made me stop and think. I am still researching permaculture and thinking about how to apply in my situation.....My parents had a version of permaculture happening on their properties when I was growing up however there seems to be so much more written and available now on the subject.

    1. Permaculture is such a vast subject. How lucky for you that your parents were actually interested in this type of thing. I am studying permaculture through the Riverina TAFE. I am almost finished unit 3 with 7 units to go. During unit 3 I had to do in depth research into the bio-region where I live. Absolutely fascinating stuff. I also really like watching Geoff Lawton's videos and signed up on his website to have the links to the video's sent through to me as they become available, so I don't miss any.

  3. Josh Burns has a lovely you tube video if him developing his garden based on Permaculture principles in Perth. It's worth a watch. I am reading all that I can on this way of living/gardening and find it putting into practical applications things I have been feeling about gardening for a while. Will be really interested to read further posts on this topic. Have just discovered your blog today and will be following you.

  4. I have the Gardening Australia DVD "Permaculture and Organic Gardening" where Josh shows how his garden at his former home was developed. That was made in 2005 and I have also bookmarked his website with the videos showing the build of his new house and garden - the one with the duplex where his sister in law has the other duplex. However I haven't had a chance to watch many of those videos as yet. Thank you Jane for reminding me of them. I am starting my next unit in my Permaculture certificate shortly and first up is working on my base site plan, and I think Josh's video's will be helpful with that.

    Here is the URL of the permaculture lectures of Professor Will Hooker of NC State University I haven't watched them all as yet but I have enjoyed the ones I have seen.