Many people are not familiar with the term permaculture. At its most simple, permaculture is a way of maintaining a lush, beautiful, and productive garden, without much of the tedious and boring work many people associate with gardening. It is about understanding how to best mimic nature and natural patterns of growth.
This is just one part of the entire permaculture school of thought. As with any global movement, there are plenty of interpretations, and a lot more to learn that just one basic understanding.
The term permaculture comes from the combination of ‘permanent’ and ‘culture’, (alternatively, permanent and agriculture). The term was developed by two biologists, Bill Mollison, and David Holmgren, in the late 1970s.
Bill Mollison began his career as a wildlife biologist and saw for himself the degradation of natural systems by human influence – whilst also witnessing the successful patterns of growth when nature was left to its own devices. Bill and David published the first book on permaculture in 1978.
On Permaculture, Bill Mollison asserts:
“The aim is to create systems that are ecologically-sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term.”
“Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system for city and country, using the smallest practical area.”
When put simply, permaculture can be boiled down to a few key tenants:
- The creation of truly sustainable systems, that do not deplete the earth’s precious resources
- Minimizing the impact of an anthropocentric society – and preserving the natural ecosystem.
- Holistic living, and working symbiotically with nature, rather than against it.
- Efficiency in our actions. Design and contemplation over action.
And what this looks like, is an integrated system that is designed in accordance with the laws of nature. Nobody weeds the forest or adds fertilizer, yet it is able to produce enough resources for the ecosystem.
Today, this term is used far too frequently. A truly sustainable system requires no more input than it takes to run. Something that could, if left to its own devices, exist indefinitely. This is the ‘permanent’ part of permaculture. Nature is the ultimate recycler. It does not waste.
Permaculture is intrinsically linked to design (when not observed in the wild). Here, we observe natural rhythms and patterns and attempt to mimic them in our gardens.
Nature does it best!
If you are in your garden, and it feels like there are too many chores to be done, chances are, nature has a more efficient way of doing it. Just by following patterns observed in nature, you can easily eliminate the need to till your soil or weed your garden beds.
Learn from, and respect nature, it’s been around longer than we have!