What is Permaculture? A look into sustainable ways to design human environment

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What is PermaCulture?

Permaculture today means “permanent culture”, and reflects the 40 years now achieved by this design methodology. It is, in short, an integrated design process that results in a sustainable, balanced and aesthetic environment.


The Human cultures cannot survive for long without the basis of sustainable agriculture and ethical land management: this brilliant intuition inspired Bill Mollison in coining the term Perma-culture, a theory and practice synthesis that systematizes the elements of different ecological environments, opening up new design horizons.

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Permaculture voluntourists from Schloss Glariegg in Switzerland

The word was created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-1970s to describe an integrated and evolutionary system of perennial or self-perpetuating and useful plant and animal species.

The meaning

The term comes from the fusion of “permanent” and “agriculture”. This fusion signifies the importance of moving from an agricultural model (based largely on energy-intensive annual crops) to a scheme that instead, on the example of natural ecosystems, aims at the creation of multi-year crops (characterized by low consumption of fossil energy and reduced use of human labor).

Applying the principles of Permaculture

In the beginning, perma-culture meant “permanent agriculture”. A more current definition is ”consciously designed soils in order to reproduce the patterns and relationships present in nature, capable of producing an abundance of food, fibres and energy for local needs”. People, their buildings and the way they organize themselves are central to perma-culture.

Thus the vision of permaculture of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved into a permanent or sustainable culture.

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Author: Voluntouring staff

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