Consultant – Permaculture and Aquaponics
Originally Permaculture began in Australia during the 1970s as an idea put forward by Bill Mollison, and it has since gone on to inspire millions around the world.
Bill Mollison (who died in 2016 aged 88) originally viewed permaculture as an agricultural system that works with, rather than against, nature, on the basis that the natural world holds the key to stable and productive systems. So the term was first coined from his “permanent agriculture”, but it has evolved over the years to encompass a much wider range of environmental concerns and human cultural issues so is now most commonly defined as “permanent culture”.
Permaculture is now seen as part of a global solution: a system or way of thinking that enables us, as human beings, to live in a way that can allow us, other species and our planet to not just survive, but thrive. The Permaculture movement and design thinking is now a part of the global activity, that is slowly being implemented at a local level around the world, to help us transition into a sustainable future ethically and with intelligence.
Permaculture is a philosophy and a design process, but more than that, it is also a practical guide for life. It helps us to design intelligent systems which meet human needs whilst enhancing biodiversity, reducing our impact on the planet, and creating a fairer world for us all. People across the globe are transforming their communities with permaculture. It has given us a range of design principles by which we can arrange our lives.
Bill Mollison developed the permaculture concept with three key ethics:
- Care of our planet
- Care of humankind
- Return of surplus into the system.
These central ethics have then been further distilled into twelve principles of design, outlined by David Holmgren.
The principles are:
- Observe and interact
- Catch and store energy
- Obtain a yield
- Apply self-regulation and feedback
- Use and value renewable resources and services
- Produce no waste
- Design from patterns to details
- Integrate rather than segregate
- Use small and slow solutions
- Use and value diversity
- Use edges and value the marginal
- Creatively use and respond to change
These twelve principles can be applied to a wide range of aspects in our modern lives, from our homes and gardens,working lives, commercial businesses, even to politics and social-activism. Today in thousands of projects these simple principles are being designed in and applied giving a range of practical solutions for individuals and communities who wish to live in a sustainable way.
Mollison and Holmgren wanted to spread these ideas and methods, so decided to set-up and teach a series of informal two-week course in permaculture. They went on to devised a full curriculum for a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and shared it with their PDC students who grew in confidence as they taught similar 72-hour courses, and after just 10 years of touring and teaching with the help of the network of affiliated teachers – they had spread the permaculture ideas across five continents.
Although his original principles remain in place, the PDC courses have evolved to expand beyond agriculture and into areas such as design, engineering, sustainable. energy, systems thinking, construction, architecture, and social resilience all based on a sound ecological approach.
An excellent way to find out more about permaculture is firstly to attend a two-day introductory course. This ‘taster’ will provide an opportunity to actively learn about the permaculture ethics and principles, and to see examples of designs being implemented by groups and projects in this country and abroad.
Many will then do the 72 hr full Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses. The introduction is really just a taster, whereas the PDC is more like a gateway to deeper learning, practical understanding and entry to membership of the wider permaculture community.
Beyond the PDC there is the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design that is the standard qualification to get recognised as a professional permaculture designer. In conjunction with a teaching qualification, it also allows you to act as the lead teacher on PDCs.
Some of the best places to see permaculture in practice are the excellent demonstration projects that are part of the LAND Network that has grown into a vibrant network of about 80 sites using permaculture design. These sites include examples in suburban gardens, smallholdings, rural farms, city farms, forest gardens, and amazing allotments.
Find examples here…
The LAND Map
They are all set up to show practical permaculture in practice to visitors and volunteers in a safe, accessible and inspiring way.
So much has already been achieved as a result of applying the permaculture principles in different ways around the world. Some might even say that minor miracles have been worked, but just imagine how much could be achieved if these principles were to be applied consistently and conscientiously across the whole world!
The positivity and hope of the message permaculture puts forward is refreshing in an age when, all too often, all we hear is messages of doom and gloom. As we see the effects of climate change and the threat of peak oil starting to take effect, the world needs to change – and fast – but is such change really possible?
Permaculture shows us that it is.