I’ve recently completed a very detailed property design for a good friend of the family. What was different about this design was that I used it as an opportunity to describe permaculture itself. Our friend wasn’t familiar with permaculture, so even the word permaculture probably seemed a bit scary. But the design itself let me describe what permaculture is. The design included a lot of techniques, but the techniques themselves are not permaculture.
I will provide the full design and analysis for the Re-Investors. It ran out to 65 pages in the end:
This design begins with the prime directive of permaculture. The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for ourselves and our children. The clients for this design are like family to my wife and I. Sometimes close, sometimes far apart, but always more than friends. This design is an idea to transform their property “Bryn Awel” into a productive system based on permaculture principles. It is a step for me as a permaculture designer towards taking responsibility for myself and my family. It is an invitation for B, G and J to take some, none or all of this design to add health and richness to their lives.
As a brief introduction to permaculture – it is basically a way to design things, using nature as a guide, to make the most of life. Permaculture encourages us to think about the relationship between things, rather than the things themselves. Lush gardens and productive landscapes are the most visible manifestation of permaculture design, but we can apply the same permaculture principals to design anything. Some of the ideas in this design have nothing to do with growing plants, but they can reduce costs and add health benefits and enjoyment to life.
Usually people say that Permaculture is the combination of the words ‘Permanent’ and ‘Agriculture’. A bloke from Tasmania by the name of Bill Mollison developed permaculture in the ‘70s. He looked at the marsupials in the rainforest of Tasmania and said, ‘this environment provides everything this critter needs with no work, inputs or waste. Couldn’t we design something like this to provide all of our needs?’ From there, he and his students brought together many tricks and tools from nature, from ancient people and from modern people.
But permaculture is not the tricks themselves. Permaculture is a way to understand how and when to use each of those tools. I like to think of permaculture as the combination of the words ‘Permanent’ and ‘Culture’, where culture basically means ‘the way we do things here’.