Permaculture is the art and science of design. Principally it is the application of design to develop a Permanent Culture. Too often in the systems we design to produce food, housing, use of resources and in our human relationships we don’t put enough thought towards the functions, products and needs of the system and end up producing heaps of waste or developing an inefficient system. By utilising permaculture design and developing well thought out concepts, materials, strategies and techniques we can revolutionise our physical and invisible structures and transform the way we live.
As a design system permaculture is based on three ethics and a number of principles that serve as a checklist of the system and help to inform design. The three ethics are based on common ethics from traditional cultures who practiced a much more permanent form of culture than our current annual grain, industrial military culture we find ourselves caught up in. The first ethic is care of the earth, a culture needs to be regenerating the earth rather than depleting it in order to be permanent. This is an ethic visible in traditional cultures around the world. The second ethic is care of the people, again permanent culture needs to be looking after the people of the earth in order to be permanent. The last ethic is to share resources rather than hoard them. Fairly simple system I reckon.
There is information on the different principles of permaculture here and heaps of info on this design system on the web. After these ethics and principles there are a whole suite of strategies and techniques that have been adopted by the permaculture movement towards the goal of developing a sustainable culture. These include techniques as varied as Bioconstruction, Rocket Stoves, Forest Gardening, Holistic Management, Dynamic Group Facilitation, Bio-intensive Gardening, Composting Toilets and heaps more.
For me it is the patterns that makes permaculture, and the concept of mimicing the patterns of nature to develop a regenerative system.