Please Note: This website is out of date. The Steward Community Woodland sustainable living project ended in 2018 for legal and planning permission reasons. The contents have been left here as a historical archive.

Permaculture theory and practice

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a design system for sustainable development. It is based on a set of ethics and design princeples which give practical ways to plan and act for both immediate and long term beneficial effects. It integrates sustainable land use, energy efficient building, appropriate technology, legal structures and financial systems for community and economic development.

The word is a contraction of ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’ (because it advocates increased use of tree crops and other perenials, decreased reliance on fossil fuels, and rebuilding rather than mining of soil and water resorces). It is also culture (because a society can only be stable if it meets peoples needs in a fair, humain and sustainable way).

Permaculture goes beyond conservation to regeneration, repairing degraded land and reviving depressed communities. There are permaculture projects throughout the world, urban and rural, in many different cultures and climetes. Permaculture can be applied at domestic and local levels and on broader, bioregional and international scales.

It stresses cooperation rather than competition to achieve a state that is ecologically sound and economically viable. Working with nature not against it, permaculture design offers people positive solutions which bring a sense of hope and purpose.

Permaculture is not a dogma or a religion but and ecological design system. Writer, Emma Chapman, defines it as:

"Permaculture, originally 'Permanent Agriculture' , is often viewed as a set of gardening techniques, but it has in fact developed into a whole design philosophy, and for some people a philosophy for life. Its central theme is the creation of human systems which provide for human needs, but using many natural elements and drawing inspiration from natural ecosystems. Its goals and priorities coincide with what many people see as the coal requirements for sustainability."

Permaculture tackles how to grow food, build houses and create communities and minimise environmental impact at the same time. Its principles are being constantly developed and refined by people throughout the world in very different climates and cultural circumstances.

Links: check out the Permaculture Association of Great Britain website.

Last updated: 2009-04-22

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