So What is Permaculture Anyway?
This is a question I often get soon after I start telling someone about permaculture design. The problem is, there is really no easy answer. Permaculture is such a diverse system involving all aspects of life on Earth, human and otherwise, like an umbrella covering many different areas of science, technology, agriculture, biology, botany, horticulture, building, planning… the list goes on. It is hard to boil it all down to one simple phrase, because there is so much involved. To get a general idea of what permaculture is we can look to the co-founder of permaculture, Bill Mollison:
“Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments…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.”
That is a pretty good example of where permaculture started, but it has grown into so much more over the last 40 years. The word itself came from “permanent agriculture,” because Bill and his student David Holmgren saw that the current system of agriculture was destroying the world around us, its goal was to obtain high yields without much thought to what the long term effects would be. They saw that the current system of agriculture was temporary, and would soon destroy the very land it was based upon as has happened many times throughout history. They sought to create a system of permanent agriculture, based upon natural patterns, that would continually regenerate itself in the same way that a forest ecosystem constantly creates its own soil, water, and resiliency. However, in the natural and the human world, nothing exists on its own, and Bill and David realized that our agricultural system had to be tied in and connected to all our other human systems, as well as the greater environment. They saw how all of our actions and systems, water, power, housing, transportation, entertainment, ect., are connected and dependent upon one another, and in order to create a truly permanent and sustainable human existence we had to design all of the aspects of our culture to work together. Thus, the meaning of permaculture expanded from permanent agriculture to permanent culture, and over the years permaculture practitioners have applied this system of design to all these different aspects of human existence.
In my own journey studying and learning about permaculture, I have found that permaculture has grown over the years into more than a design system, though the original ethics, principles, and techniques have remained as the foundation. It has become a movement, a way of thinking, a world view, and a paradigm. When you start learning permaculture design, it changes the way you see the world, it changes your perception of events and people, it changes what you think is possible. Once you are armed with this information, you can set out into the world knowing that there is hope for a better world, that it is possible to work with nature in a way that helps both Humans and the rest of the natural world thrive, and you can start doing good work and facilitating truly effective change. There are now countless people out in the world doing just that. By sharing information and introducing people to the world of permaculture through oneheartfire.org, I hope to add to that wave of positive action that is transforming the world around us.
I have changed the format of the site a bit. You can still find my old blog below, but most of my efforts are now focused towards my video series, which is reaching more and more people every day. I would like oneheartfire.org to be a place where people new to permaculture can come and be directed towards good information in whatever field they are interested in. To that end, I have created a Resources page which will point you towards many books, websites and other information sources that I have found valuable in my permaculture studies. I will be adding to this as I discover more good information.
Of course, I am still working on my own projects, including my plot at the Ant Village in Western Montana. This year I will be continuing to work on the infrastructure of my homestead, while starting to bring to life my vision of the Permaculture Bike Park. It is bound to be an exciting project, so stay tuned to the videos to follow along. I am also starting to do more projects with my permaculture design busines Earth Care Design, starting with a suburban lot near Seattle. As I work on these projects, I will be sharing my experience so you can join me as continue the transition towards making a living through permaculture. I hope you enjoy the videos and are inspired to get past any fear, and make some changes towards a more rewarding lifestyle. Thank you for visiting oneheartfire.org, and thank you for joining me in building a better world through permaculture.