What is Permaculture?

  • An Ecological way of Living
  • Designed by Observing and Co-operating with nature
  • Encouraging Creativity, Resourcefulness and more Self reliance
  • Showing how “Sustainable Living” can work in practice
  • Helping to find Solutions to many local & global problems

Permaculture Ethics

  1. Earthcare – caring for the Earth’s Environment and natural resources
  2. Peoplecare – providing the basic needs of food, shelter, education, human contact and fulfilling work
  3. Fairshares – contributing to a more equitable world by limiting resource consumption and sharing surplus

Permaculture Principles in Practice

While their application depends on local conditions, the key principles are:

 Use biological resources

  • Encourage biological agents to help with processes, such as composting, pollination, pest control and sewage treatment.
  • Wood, straw, reed, turf and willow are used to create structures as well as fuel grown on site

 Recycle energy and other resources

  • Minimise the loss of resources by encouraging production and consumption on site or locally
  • Recovered heat to warm water, provide frost protection, dry food crops, germinate seeds etc.
  •  Grey water for flushing toilets, irrigation and ‘feeding’ a willow or reed bed.
  •  Surplus plant materials for mulch,( minimising the need for weeding and watering), compost, worms, wildlife habitats, craft materials
  • Local economic cycling is encouraged through LETS (local economic trading systems), farmers markets, community supported agriculture, credit unions and other local trading. All help to maximise the proportion of currency and other resources that stay in an area.

 Design for energy efficiency

  • Zones, most frequent maintenance closest to the centre of human activity
  • Sectors planned to take advantage of natural energies and influences on a site e.g. sun, wind, water to optimise their potential benefits, mitigate against their problems
  • Slope to optimise advantages e.g. water flow and minimise potential problems e.g. soil erosion
  • No/reduced tillage systems and permanent, perennial plantings cut down time. These also help to create a healthy soil, reduce run off and erosion, encourage biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration and provide flood protection.

Think which things go best together and where

  • Foster beneficial relationships that produce useful outputs:
  • Siting windbreaks; beneficial plants to encourage pollinators and discourage predators; collecting rain or grey water close to and above slopes

Plan systems of diversity

  • Likely to be more robust than a monoculture. If a species or variety doesn’t thrive, its absence will have less impact in a very diverse system.
  • Different plants can benefit each other by occupying complementary aerial and root spaces, fixing nitrogen, bringing valuable minerals to the surface and attracting pollinators and beneficial predators.
  • Polycultures of plants attract a diversity of wildlife and are less prone to decimation by pests.
  • In human communities, a variety of skills, resources and services promotes local exchange, synergy and greater resilience to external forces.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

  • Provide several ways to support important functions
  • on a windy site windbreaks, resistant varieties of plants, habitats pollinators habitats nearby

 Make things multipurpose

  • Hedge – windbreak, visual screen, wild food, wildlife habitat, shade, stock barrier, shelter, wood products and an aesthetic feature
  • Compost heap – heat for young seedlings or tender plants grown above it, wildlife habitat, hibernation/breeding for reptiles, scrap wood for the frame, compost, reduce landfill
  • Local Organic Food – less transport pollution, local business support, personal health
  • Growing Willow
  • Chickens – eggs, meat, feathers, pest control, fertiliser, biofuel, heat and prepare the ground for crops

Create Space for Wildlife

  • Permaculture systems are designed to be more sustainable and biodiverse.
  • By using the minimum amount of land for human needs it becomes much easier to allow space especially for wildlife.
  • This means setting aside areas where there is less, perhaps no, human disturbance and where any inputs are particularly geared towards enhancing and maintaining biodiversity

Create small scale ‘intensive’ systems

  • Little land as possible for human needs.
  • Aids flexibility in response to new info and ideas
  • Maximises yield
  • E.g. stacking, Forest Gardens principles,

Turn problems into solutions 

  • Be imagination and information intensive
  • Every feature of a site can be viewed as an advantage or disadvantage.
  • Careful observation, quality thinking and appropriate information
  • Water logging e.g. species that thrive with it, go with it

Incorporate meeting places where different habitats meet

  • In Nature, there are transition zones or ‘edges’ where one habitat, climate, soil, slope meet
  • Such edges are usually very productive, since the changing environmental conditions provide niches for a great variety of species.
  • Incorporating more edge in a design helps to encourage such diversity – woodlands and ponds, for example, can be designed and managed to have lots of edge in relation to their area.