Going Down the Rabbit Hole: What is permaculture?

This year, HLG is taking big strides to offer innovative and effectual design. Our desire to learn and grow in harmony with the natural world has led us to embrace the canons of  permaculture. Though obscure at first glance, permaculture is a novel doctrine of design that combines ancient wisdom with modern technology to maximize planetary benefit.

The term “permaculture” was coined in 1978 by Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. It is a compound of “permanent agriculture” but has also been expanded to connote “permanent culture” because of it’s many ties to social systems. As defined in their book, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, permaculture is:

“…the conscious design and maintenance of productive ecosystems that have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” 

Mollison and Holmgren are often referred to as the “fathers of permaculture” but they both acknowledge that it’s foundations are rooted in knowledge and techniques that predate modern agriculture.

Within permaculture circles, there are three primary Ethics and a host of Design Principles that guide our vision. The ethical foundations of permaculture focus on:

  1. Care of Earth
  2. Care of People
  3. Share of Surplus

Permaculture Design Flower

Expanding on these tenets, the Design Principles offer inventive pathways to creating abundance. For instance, having multiple functions for a single element, working with pre-existing biological patterns and finding value in the margins of closed-loop systems.

At it’s core, permaculture is a paradigm of design with which we can mindfully create living systems of resilience. This may seem like a broad or utopic description. But in actuality, permaculture is exactly that. From land stewardship and community governance to fostering economic and spiritual well-being, permaculture provides the knowledge and tools to live intentionally and create a brighter future.

Simply put, permaculture teaches us to work with nature rather than against it in order to live healthy, vibrant and abundant lives. The impact of this framework is far-reaching and has many practical applications for everyday life, not just how we grow food. That’s why we feel it is our duty to share this sacred knowledge with our communities.

HLG’s Permaculture Vision: Reconciliation Blog

The path that led me to permaculture has also taken me abroad to Europe where I cycled between bio-intensive farms in Austria and Scandinavia. I was able to learn hands-on from ecological gurus with years of observational experience backing up the myriad merits of alternative production. Being witness to citrus trees thriving among lush food forests in the Styrian Alps was overwhelming to say the least. The spectacle left me eager to learn more.

As resident Permaculturist and Systems Designer of HLG, I feel it is my duty to be a facilitator of learning by bringing these lessons to a larger audience. This year, I’ll be continuing my education through the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) by earning my certification as an Urban Farmer. I still have much to learn, but I’m continually energized with each new lesson.  While we take this journey into new domains, I will use this platform as a bridge to connect, inspire and co-create a strategic vision for the future.

This is more than just a blog. It is a collaborative discussion to help us transition towards a better tomorrow.