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The word permaculture is a contraction of permanent agriculture or, more broadly, permanent culture. The simplest definition of permaculture is an ecological design science -- a way of understanding and using the many ways that parts of living systems interact or work together to generate harmony or dissonance among them. Bill Mollison, the Australian founder of permaculture, calls it

a philosophy of working with rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems and people in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.

A basic question that can be asked in two ways is: "What can I get from this land, or person?" or "What does this person, or land, have to give if I cooperate with them?"
Of these two approaches, the former leads to war and waste, the latter to peace and plenty.

Two of permaculture's most important principles are:

Mollison advocates protecting wilderness areas from further encroachment, rehabilitating degraded or eroded land with forests and ground covers, and designing human living environments to sustainably satisfy people's real needs so they don't have to degrade their environment to survive.

Other permaculture principles with a strong ring of co-intelligence include:

The permaculture movement is widespread. Thousands of people around the world practice it. There are textbooks, classes and journals on the subject.

By arranging things so they assist each other, permaculture home and landscape design reduces work, walking distances and waste products. For an excellent example, check out "Making a Habitat where Everything Fits."




Bill Mollison, Introduction to Permaculture (Tagari, 1991).

Patrick Whitefield, Permaculture in a Nutshell (Permanent Publications,
Clanfield, Hapshire, England, 1993)