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The word permaculture, coined by its co-founder Bill Mollison, is formed from the words “permanent” and “agriculture.” The concept of permaculture is difficult to explain in just a few words, because the term is used to describe (usually simultaneously) both a worldview/philosophy for living on the earth and a set of design principles and practices. 

Bill Mollison emphasized the philosophical aspect in his definition: “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” (Mollison 1988).

Rafter Ferguson, a well-regarded permaculture researcher and practitioner, has an elegantly simple way to frame the many aspects of permaculture: “Permaculture is meeting human needs while increasing ecosystem health” (Ferguson 2012). To guard against reductionism, Rafter adds a cautionary statement to his concise definition, saying, “I’m all for shorthand definitions in the right context as long as it’s being used to communicate a principle rather than obscure fundamental complexity” (Ferguson 2013b).

My own definition of permaculture is as follows: Permaculture is a cohesive set of ethics, principles and practices that help guide the stewardship of an ecosystem to ensure resilience and abundance to all its inhabitants.   --  Brad Ward

Click here to access Conversations about Permaculture


  1. 2018-04-30 Permaculture or Permanent Agriculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, and resilience of natural ecosystems. This deliberate design is based on the ethics of caring for others and creation while cultivating a fair share for...
  2. Rating: 5.0 - 1 Vote
    2015-10-30 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...
  3. This article is from ECHO Asia Note #30 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...
  4. 2015-03-26 This presentation focuses on the practice of sustainable agriculture combined with sustainable living through a design philosophy known as "permaculture" for addressing systemic poverty issues in poor areas. Permaculture is a contraction of the words "permanent" and "culture", and is guided by...
  5. 2016-03-03 Session: The session will share knowledge and practices which some pastoralist communities have chosen as alternative livelihoods in pastoralist areas. The ideas come from the local people, and demonstrate ‘people- care’, ‘earth-care’ and ‘fair-share’. Use of natural resources sustainably are...
  6. 2011-01-20
  7. 2016-09-27 La Permaculture (une contraction des mots "culture et permanente") intègre les personnes, l'eau, les plantes les sols, les paysages, les animaux, les micro-organismes, les structures, les systèmes de captage d'eau et l'énergie naturelle pour créer des écologies cultivées qui soient abondamment...
  8. The main aims of the charity are researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, as an integral part of designs involving high species diversity and permaculture principles. Approaches such as woodland/forest gardening use a minimal input of resources and energy,...
  9. 2016-01-25 Gene Fifer at Cornell University responds to Brad Ward’s article on permaculture in EDN 129 in "Potential Constraints to Sharing Permaculture Ideas." Abram Bicksler, Director of ECHO’s Impact Center in Thailand, writes in response to the article about Inca nut in EDN 129 "Caution about Inca Nut."...
  10. 1988-12-01 Amazon.com Description Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food,...
  11. 1991-06-01 Two Copies The word "permaculture" was coined and popularized in the mid 70's by David Holmgren, a young Australian ecologist, and his associate / professor, Bill Mollison. It is a contraction of "permanent agriculture" or "permanent culture." Permaculture is about designing ecological human...
  12. 1996-01-19 This is an easy-to-use guide to selecting hundreds of perennial species. It is indispensable for growers and designers working in subtropical and warm temperate/arid climates, and also includes some cool-climate tolerant species. Permaculture Plants: A Selection details hundreds of common and...
  13. 1990-01-01 "Permaculture" (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of economical, agriculturally productive ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. While focusing on agriculture, it also establishes the importance of integration between...
  14. David Holmgren is regularly involved in teaching on a variety of permaculture courses including the well known Permaculture Design Certificate course. He also offers workshops, and talks at a diverse range of events and venues.
  15. Rating: 5.0 - 1 Vote
    The Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) is located on a Permaculture demonstration site in The Channon NSW, and is headed by Geoff & Nadia Lawton. We specialize in education & training worldwide. We also provide daily Permaculture news and information via permaculturenews.org. The...
  16. A permaculture forum
  17. Discussing permaculture around the world.
  18. Our Mission Our mission is to introduce permaculture education throughout all the primary schools of East Africa. We aim to teach the teachers practical, hands-on permaculture skills to promote future food and water security and to ensure dynamic economic development. Are You Interested in a PDC...
  19. This forum exists for individuals interested in the study and practice of permaculture and for consultants, designers and teachers of this discipline, conceived and stewarded by Bill Mollison & David Holmgren plus thousands more individuals over the years, from around the world offering their...
  20. Uploaded on Jul 28, 2009
  21. Goofballs that are nuts about permaculture! Hot dog! permies.com is now the largest permaculture site on the internet! Most folks are looking for the full collection of permaculture forums.
  22. Permaculture.Net has been helping facilitate all things Permaculture for over 10 years. Explore Permaculture courses and internships being offered worldwide. Network with others in our forum. And check out our extensive website resource list.
  23. 2014-11-18 Climate change will have its worst effects on the world’s poorest people. Perennial crops and agroforestry systems can help reduce the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon, while also helping to address social and environmental challenges through restoration of degraded land,...
  24. 2012-06-26 The urban landscape has swallowed vast swaths of prime farmland across North America. Imagine how much more self-reliant our communities would be if thirty million acres of lawns were made productive again. Permaculture is a practical way to apply ecological design principles to food, housing,...
  25. 2002-07-01 The first detailed account of Cuba's turn to a system of organic agriculture prepared on an international scientific delegation and fact-finding mission on low-input sustainable agriculture which visited Cuba in late 1992.
  26. 2014-02-21 Permaculture design is a powerful tool for creating systems that meet our human needs but also support the ecosystem as a whole. It applies ecological principles to designing gardens, farms, community projects, even entire human settlements. The standard seventy-two-hour Permaculture Design (PDC)...
  27. 2016-03-03 The Bio-Integrated Farm is a twenty-first-century manual for managing nature’s resources. This groundbreaking book brings “system farming” and permaculture to a whole new level. Author Shawn Jadrnicek presents new insights into permaculture, moving beyond the philosophical foundation to practical...
  28. These videos are documents from two design courses taught by Bill Mollison at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose Texas in 1994 and 1995. They are a definitive selection from our original 16 part series. These tapes bear many viewings and will benefit anyone who wants to learn how to help...
  29. 1995-01-01 Reviewed by Kristin Davis In the first half of this manual, the authors cover a history of sustainable agriculture methods, organic food production, methods of composting, bio-intensive gardening and no-till gardening. There is also a brief section on methods of natural insect control. Somewhat...
  30. 2014-03-11 When the inspiration hits to start an organic garden, many novices could benefit from a guidebook that speaks directly to their enthusiasm, their goals, and, of course, their need for solid information that speaks a newbie's language—from the most trusted source for organic gardening methods. In...
  31. 2014-01-20 A good book full of information about testing the quality of a soil by studying the plants associated with it.
  32. 2013-06-03 With Practical Information on Landshaping, Water Security, Perennial Crops, Soil Fertility, Nutrient-dense food, and more The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a manual for developing durable, beautiful, and highly functional human habitat systems fit to handle an age of rapid transition. Ben Falk...
  33. An alternative approach to managing transition camps can be found through permaculture, which offers theory and practice to support bottom up designs and solutions to complex problems in the process of building self sustainable social and built environments. It is especially important to provide...
  34. 2013-12-05 In these videos, experts discuss the latest research on perennial crops at the FAO workshop on Perennial Crops for Food Security on 28 -- 30 August 2013. We need to "Perennialize" agriculture. Perennial agriculture, including perennial grains, oil seeds and legumes as well as forages and trees...
  35. 2002-12-01 David Holmgren brings into sharper focus the powerful and still evolving Permaculture concept he pioneered with Bill Mollison in the 1970s. It draws together and integrates 25 years of thinking and teaching to reveal a whole new way of understanding and action behind a simple set of design...
  36. 1981-06-01 Permaculture One presents unique strategies for creating a food-producing system specifically suited to your needs, whether you garden in your backyard or engage in full-scale farming. By carefully designing a system around functional relationships between plant and animal species you can create...
  37. The guidebook is being created to expand and accelerate the understanding and application of permaculture. Designed as a training, programme and project base as well as a practical reference guide which can be used by a wide range of organisations, it will improve the results of all...
  38. Worldwide, mainstream aid projects tend to deal with the symptoms of problems, rather than the problems themselves. In fact, often aid projects actually exacerbate the root issue, by supply free food and clothing that undermines the ability of people on the ground to make a living. In other...
  39. 2009-04-01 Second Edition The first edition of Gaia's Garden, sparked the imagination of Americas home gardeners, introducing permacultures central message: Working with Nature, not against her, results in more beautiful, abundant, and forgiving gardens. This extensively revised and expanded second edition...
  40. 1999-01-19 Increasingly sophisticated technology and an ever-expand-ing base of knowledge have not been enough to allow humans to halt the worldwide progression of environmental degradation. Extensive fieldwork in both Africa and the United States convinced Allan Savory that neither the forces of nature nor...
  41. 2000-01-20 Permacopia: Book Three. ASIN:B001MW0KV4 This book, PERMACOPIA THREE; AN INVENTORY, is a study of many popular foods, plus some less known, multipurpose plants. The species in this book have been chosen for their acceptance, availability, utility, & their relative lack of rampancy. Included...
  42. 1999-01-19 Then, PERMACOPIEA TWO; THE ENDEMIC, INDIGENOUS, & POLYNESIAN SPECIES of HAWAII, is the most important book for Hawaii. This would be the first place to identify the appropriate & sustaining plants for these islands. It includes information on 235 important plants from ‘A’ALI’I through...
  43. 2005-08-30 Volume One: Vision & Theory Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the...
  44. 2005-10-20 Volume Two: Design & Practice Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the...
  45. 2015-05-12 An overview of perennial vegetables in Thailand, why they are important, and how they can be utilized and promoted in community development and agriculture projects. Part 2 goes into the detail about some of these plant species.
  46. Sustainable Agriculture Research Institute SARI is a small, non-government, non-profit organisation dedicated to working toward sustainable human existence. (Established in 1982). We are based on a 30 hectare property south of Nannup in the south-west of Western Australia. One of our projects is...
  47. 2018-02-20 PermacultureForRefugees (P4R) has released their first booklet in a series to bring permaculture solutions to refugee situations. Permaculture for Refugees in Camps is a 20 page how-to guide outlining a positive approaches to transforming refugee camps. It is the culmination of ideas, experience...
  48. 2013-12-16 Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is a how-to manual for the budding gardener and experienced green thumb alike, full of creative and easy-to-follow designs that guide you to having your yard and eating it, too. With the help of more than 200 beautiful color photos and drawings,...
  49. 2015-12-09 Are you facing drought or water shortages? Gardening with Less Water offers simple, inexpensive, low-tech techniques for watering your garden much more efficiently — using up to 90 percent less water for the same results. With illustrated step-by-step instructions, David Bainbridge shows you how...
  50. 2011-11-08 Permaculture is a creative approach to abundant and fulfilling lifestyles. It is for everyone wishing to live sustainable and tread more lightly on the Earth. Permaculture is an ecologically sound approach to providing for our needs, including our food, shelter and financial and social...

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