Permaculture is a network of agricultural and social design ideas focused on replicating or directly using the features seen in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture was expanded and conceived by David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. The word permaculture initially referred to “permanent agriculture”, but was developed to refer also for “permanent culture.” This is because social aspects were essential to a genuinely sustainable system, as also influenced by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.
Mollison has said: “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.”
It has several subsets which complies ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, and construction. Permaculture also involves integrated water resources management that broadens sustainable architecture, and regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems.
The techniques and strategies used to utilize these principles vary widely depending on the location, climatic conditions and resources that are available. The methods may differ, but the foundations to this holistic approach remain constant.
Permaculture uses organic gardening and farming practices but it goes beyond. It integrates the garden and home to create a lifestyle that impacts less on the environment. There is a significant difference between closed and open food-production systems. In a truly closed system, energy is not lost it is simply transferred from one being or element to another. In a permaculture system, energy is ideally used by one element effectively and passed on for the benefit of the next before it leaves the system.
The ideal permaculture farm brings production of food closer to consumers and the consumer’s wastes back into the cycle. It also reduces the energy wasted in transporting the foods by producing the foods where the people are. In permaculture, the people contribute in their daily life toward the production of their food and other needs.