What is permaculture you ask?
Permaculture was developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s. Permaculture is a design science that is governed by 3 ethics to emulate nature’s processes into a self-sustaining system. The ethics are as follows: Care of the Earth, Care of People and Return of Surplus. Care of the Earth- consideration and care for all the living and non-living things. Care of People- encouraging cooperation between others by building community and self-reliance. Return of Surplus- returning back to the system any surplus that promotes the first two ethics. As stewards of this planet, these ethics govern every decision made in a permaculture design. Permaculture can help provide food, water, energy and shelter in a manner that is harmonious with nature.
There are several teaching points of permaculture that include the following: patterns, soil, water, trees and plants, animals, aquaculture, energy and earthworks. All of these topics are brought together in a design that is ultimately affected by the climate that you live in. One example of utilizing permaculture in a design could be: harvesting water to grow trees that are used to build a shelter for animals. We can take that a step forward by putting those animals above the tree growing system so their manure is washed down slope fertilizing the trees. The animals could be a food source as well. We could also plant fruit and nut trees in our tree growing systems too. The principle of “function stacking” is used in permaculture. The goal is to try and get as much use out of any element (animal, plant or structure) in a design to compliment added or existing elements. Permaculture attempts to reduce or eliminate wasted energy by applying function stacking.
A well thought out permaculture design can provide all the needs for the plants, animals and people in the system while providing almost zero waste. While that is a pretty bold statement and it is the ultimate goal of any permaculture designer.