The word permaculture is mentioned with increasing frequency in speeches, books and magazine articles on sustainability and food security. What is permaculture? Is it a movement? A philosophy? Simply a set of design tools? In this article, I answer the above questions by looking at permaculture from a variety of angles. First, I briefl y describe permaculture’s history, underlying ethics, and key principles and common practices. Then I discuss common criticisms of permaculture and explain the underlying perspective that shapes its use in addressing a community’s food, water and shelter needs (i.e., the lens through which a permaculturalist views development). Finally, I share how permaculture has infl uenced my own life and work, both as a Christian and as an agriculture development worker.