On the thursday morning in Sieben Linden we had a talk and a walk on the topic of permaculture.
After a general introduction by Monique, we visited the garden plots of Jörg and Julia and their community. Here we could see raised beds with a lot of vegetables and herbs growing together in synergy. They also planted quite a large forest garden with a lot of varieties of fruittrees surrounded by herbs and wild weeds.
Permaculture was developed in the seventies by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren at the University of Tasmanië.
These biologists researched together the ecosystems in the forests of Tasmania and were inspired to build a sustainable system in which mankind could fullfill its basic needs for food, drinkable water, housing, energy and waste management.
Bill Mollison was inspired by and worked with Australian Aboriginals where he learned to look at nature in a new way:
- Permaculture is a danse with nature, in which nature takes the lead.
Also Fukuoka, a Japanese expert in natural agriculture was a source of inspiration to him (‘One straw revolution’).
In the beginning, permaculture spread specially fast in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Nowadays it has spread in many life domains and also in moderate areas.
Definition of permaculture
Permaculture is a creative design process that is based on ethics and design principles. It mimics patterns and relationships we can find in nature and it can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and economics.
By adopting the ethics and applying the principles one can make the transition from being a dependent consumer to become a responsible producer. Permaculture builds skills and resilience, both at private and at community level, that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.
The techniques and strategies used to apply these principles vary widely depending on the location, climatic conditions and resources that are available. The methods may differ, but the foundations of the holistic approach remain constant. By learning these principles one can acquire valuable thinking tools that help to become more resilient in an era of change.
Three ethical principles
Centrally in permaculture are three ethical principles:
- Earth Care The Earth is a living, breathing entity. Without ongoing care and nurturing there will be consequences too big to ignore.
- People Care If people’s needs are met in compassionate and simple ways, the environment surrounding them will prosper.
- Fair Share We are provided with times of abundance which enables us to share with others.
These principles principles are developed after researching community ethics and by learning from communities who live in close contact – and balance – with nature. This doesn’t mean that we should ignore modern progress and techniques, but in the transition to a sustainable future we need new norms and values.
In the beginning, the design principles where dispersed and not clearly defined. After 25 years of experience in permaculture, David Holmgren developed 12 clearly defined design principles:
- Observe and interact
- Catch and Store Energy
- Obtain a Yield
- Apply Self-regulation and Accept Feedback
- Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
- Produce no Waste
- Design from Patterns to Details
- Integrate rather than Segregate
- Small and slow solutions
- Use and value diversity
- Use Edges and Value the Marginal
- Creatively Use and Adept to Change
The Permaculture Flower
The ethics and principles are nowadays applied to seven different domains of action, required to create a sustainable culture:
- Land & Nature stewarding
- Tools & Technology
- Education & Culture
- Health & Spiritual Well-Being
- Finances & Economics
- Land Tenure & Community Governance
Listen to David Holmgren
talk about the permaculture flower (mp3 – 1.20MB).
More information on permaculture on