Permaculture, where do you start?

March 2, 2013
Posted in permaculture
March 2, 2013 Tate Eskew

Permaculture, where do you start?

Just ask anyone that knows me and they will surely tell you that I am constantly spelling out the virtues of permaculture. After they hear my passionate ramblings, they are often as excited as I am about the possibilities it provides and they soon realize that it’s not a matter of ‘should they get involved’, but a matter of ‘how to get involved’. I’ve been getting this ‘how do I get started’ question a lot lately, so I thought it was time to put some things in a post here so that I could point people to a single spot to branch out from. This missive will not be an intro to permaculture itself, but rather a “getting started” post with resources to use to start educating yourself and taking action.

For those of you that don’t know what permaculture is, the definition of it changes ever so slightly depending on the person you are talking to in the ever growing community, but I particularly like this one:

per·ma·cul·ture /?p?rm??k?lCH?r/

Permaculture is the study of the design of those sustainable or enduring systems that support human society, both agricultural & intellectual, traditional & scientific, architectural, financial & legal. It is the study of integrated systems, for the purpose of better design & application of such systems.

At it’s core, permaculture adheres to three ethics:

  • Earth care
  • People care
  • Return of surplus

There are also twelve design principles involved. You can see in the graphic below the three ethics in the middle and the twelve design principles circling them.

Permaculture Ethics & Principles

The importance of all of this cannot be stressed enough. Trust me that when I say that you will be infected by knowledge, ideas, process and action once you really start to educate yourself on all of these things. During your education, self or otherwise, you will see examples of changing landscapes at massive scale that will invigorate you to no end. You will see how simple observation and small actions can lead to major change. You will ask yourself, “Why hasn’t anyone pointed all of this out to me before?”. There will be a lot of moments where dots that were seemingly at odds, connect. There will be a lot of “lightbulb” moments happening at every page turn of a book on the subject, every click on a permaculture topic, or every video you take in.

A lot of what I will post here will be targeted at people who don’t necessarily have a lot of land to work with. In essence, small scale permaculture that you can practice nearly anywhere. There will be some posts in the future about large scale regenerative design, but for now we’ll get everyone excited about designing and creating these systems in neighborhoods and small lots. Some of these resources will be posted just to get you excited and to show you what is possible by utilizing permaculture to it’s fullest extent. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but one to get you motivated and taking action in your local community. For instance, I’ve not listed the original Permaculture: Designers Manual book by one of the founders of permaculture, Bill Mollison. As it suggests, the manual is a textbook and will be a huge resource for you in the future, but for now let’s get you motivated!

Permaculture resources to help get started

Permaculture design courses

There are a number of other places offering permaculture design courses. If you don’t see one in your area listed here, just search around and you will find one. If you run a course and want it listed here, please contact me.

I genuinely hope that the information here moves you to action. I know that nearly everyone I introduce these concepts to becomes engulfed with them. I’m quite available for your questions and love to share information.
Do you have some resources that I should post here? Contact me, let me know and I will add it.

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Tate Eskew

Tate is the owner of the site you are looking at. He sometimes makes posts about interesting stuff and other times, not so much.

Comments (2)

  1. Rechovot

    You sound like me! I’m always talking to people who have never heard of permaculture. It’s difficult to describe sometimes, but in 3 words: “designing from nature.” You can go more into depth and explain that permaculture is a way to design entire cultures/civilizations, not just gardening.

    To be fair though, as originally conceived by Bill Mollison (and David Holmgren), the third ethic is “return of surplus”, which means back into the system, to make it produce better and better. “Fair share” was created by David Holmgren, after he and Mollison split. Not to quibble, but they are two different philosophies. My supposition is they (Holmgren and his supporters) wanted something for the third ethic to rhyme with “care”.

    I noticed you use Holmgren 12 principles, too. I think they can help to better think about designing systems.

    Resources: How about Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture? I found it as good or better (though admittedly different) than Gaia’s Garden. Also, I think the other two long videos about Sepp are on YT, water harvesting/fish farming and Terraforming/earthworks? I might be wrong on the names. How about the tons of video Geoff Lawton (the crowned prince of permaculture, AFAIK) has on YT, and you can buy a 5-DVD set for something like $140 US.

    Anyway, thanks for the post!

  2. All good info, Rechovot. The Sepp videos have since been taken down due to copyright violation I think. You are right, those videos were up there and they were fantastic. I’m hoping someone puts them back up. If you find them, please post them here and I will add them to the post.

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