The original definition of permaculture was permanent agriculture, or
agriculture which can be sustained in a place indefinitely. In
contrast, the much more common monoculture,
or the growing of the same crop repeatedly, tends to leech topsoil of
vital nutrients, eventually rendering the land unusable for farming.
Over time, the definition of permaculture has broadened to include
culture, thus incorporating the social
aspects of sustainability.
There are four main components of permaculture philosophy:
ethics centered on "earth care", "people care", and "fair shares"
is shorthand for limits to populations and consumption, and the fair
distribution of resources to further the work of earth care and people
care). Permaculture also stresses the importance of taking personal
responsibility for one's actions.
principles derived from the observation of natural systems by
ecologists such as Birch and Odum, as well as from successful
tools and processes that allow an individual or group to
assemble conceptual, material, and strategic components into a
"pattern" or "plan of action" that can be implemented and maintained
with minimal resources.
plan for surviving the energy descent as oil and gas production peak
and begin to decline over the next decade. David Holmgren is
increasingly presenting permaculture as the only viable tool for
retrofitting the suburbs to survive peak oil in a lifestyle that
emphasizes the core values above; a holistic care for local people and
ecologies in a local energy based economy.
After the publication of Permaculture One, Mollison and
further refined and developed their ideas by designing hundreds of
permaculture sites and organizing this information into more detailed
books. Mollison has lectured in over eighty countries and his two-week
Design Course has been taught to many hundreds of students. By the
1980s, the concept had moved on from being predominantly about the
design of agricultural systems towards being a more fully holistic
design process for creating sustainable human habitats.
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