Permaculture is a set of design principles centered around whole systems thinking simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. It uses these principles in a growing number of fields from regenerative agriculture, rewilding, community, and organizational design and development.
The term permaculture was developed and coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education's Department of Environmental Design, and Bill Mollison, senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at University of Tasmania, in 1978.  The word permaculture originally referred to "permanent agriculture", but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture", as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.
It has many branches that include, but are not limited to, ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, and construction. Permaculture also includes integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, and regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems.
Mollison has said: "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."
The 12 principles of permaculture most commonly referred to are first described by David Holmgren in his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002). They include: 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, Use Small and Slow Solutions, Use and Value Diversity, Use Edges and Value the Marginal, and Creatively Use and Respond to Change.
Several individuals revolutionized the branch of permaculture. In 1929, Joseph Russell Smith added an antecedent term as the subtitle for Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, a book which sums up his long experience experimenting with fruits and nuts as crops for human food and animal feed. Smith saw the world as an inter-related whole and suggested mixed systems of trees and crops underneath. This book inspired many individuals intent on making agriculture more sustainable, such as Toyohiko Kagawa who pioneered forest farming in Japan in the 1930s.
In Australian P. A. Yeomans' 1964 book Water for Every Farm, he supports the definition of permanent agriculture, as one that can be sustained indefinitely. Yeomans introduced both an observation-based approach to land use in Australia in the 1940s and the Keyline Design as a way of managing the supply and distribution of water in the 1950s.
Holmgren noted Stewart Brand’s works as an early influence to permaculture. Other early influences include Ruth Stout and Esther Deans, who pioneered no-dig gardening, and Masanobu Fukuoka who, in the late 1930s in Japan, began advocating no-till orchards and gardens and natural farming.
In the late 1960s, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren started developing ideas about stable agricultural systems on the southern Australian island state of Tasmania. Dangers of the rapidly growing use of industrial-agricultural methods sparked these ideas. In their view, these methods were highly dependent on non-renewable resources, and were additionally poisoning land and water, reducing biodiversity, and removing billions of tons of topsoil from previously fertile landscapes. They responded with a design approach called permaculture. This term was first made public with their publication of their 1978 book Permaculture One.
Among some of the more recognizable names who received their original training within Mollison's PDC system would include Geoff Lawton and Toby Hemenway, each of whom have more than 25 years experience teaching and promoting permaculture as a sustainable way of growing food. Simon J Fjell was a Founding Director of the Permaculture Institute in late 1979 and a teacher of the first Permaculture Design Course, having first met Mollison in 1976. He has since worked internationally and is currently listing a major social enterprise on NASDAQ.
By the early 1980s, the concept had broadened from agricultural systems design towards sustainable human habitats. After Permaculture One, Mollison further refined and developed the ideas by designing hundreds of permaculture sites and writing more detailed books, such as Permaculture: A Designers Manual. Mollison lectured in over 80 countries and taught his two-week Permaculture Design Course (PDC) to hundreds of students. Mollison "encouraged graduates to become teachers themselves and set up their own institutes and demonstration sites. This multiplier effect was critical to permaculture’s rapid expansion."
The permaculture movement also spread throughout Asia and Central America, with Hong Kong-based Asian Institute of Sustainable Architecture (AISA), Rony Lec leading the foundation of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute (IMAP) in Guatemala and Juan Rojas co-founding the Permaculture Institute of El Salvador.
Permaculture design emphasizes patterns of landscape, function, and species assemblies. It determines where these elements should be placed so they can provide maximum benefit to the local environment. Permaculture maximizes useful connections between components and synergy of the final design. The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor, and energy input by building systems, and maximizes benefits between design elements to achieve a high level of synergy. Permaculture designs evolve over time by taking into account these relationships and elements and can evolve into extremely complex systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input.
The design principles, which are the conceptual foundation of permaculture, were derived from the science of systems ecology and study of pre-industrial examples of sustainable land use. Permaculture draws from several disciplines including organic farming, agroforestry, integrated farming, sustainable development, and applied ecology. Permaculture has been applied most commonly to the design of housing and landscaping, integrating techniques such as agroforestry, natural building, and rainwater harvesting within the context of permaculture design principles and theory.
Twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:
Layers are one of the tools used to design functional ecosystems that are both sustainable and of direct benefit to humans. A mature ecosystem has a huge number of relationships between its component parts: trees, understory, ground cover, soil, fungi, insects, and animals. Because plants grow to different heights, a diverse community of life is able to grow in a relatively small space, as the vegetation occupies different layers. There are generally seven recognized layers in a food forest, although some practitioners also include fungi as an eighth layer.
A guild is a group of species where each provides a unique set of diverse functions that work in conjunction or harmony. There are many forms of guilds, including guilds of plants with similar functions that could interchange within an ecosystem, but the most common perception is that of a mutual support guild. Mutual support guilds are groups of plants, animals, insects, etc. that work well together. Plants may be grown for food production, draw nutrients from deep in the soil through tap roots, are nitrogen-fixing legumes, attract beneficial insects, and repel harmful insects. When grouped together in a mutually beneficial arrangement, these plants form a guild. See Dave Jacke's work on edible forest gardens for more information on other guilds, specifically resource-partitioning and community-function guilds.
The edge effect in ecology is the effect of the juxtaposition, or placing contrasting environments on an ecosystem. Permaculturists argue that where vastly differing systems meet, there is an intense area of productivity and useful connections. An example of this is the coast; where the land and the sea meet, there is a particularly rich area that meets a disproportionate percentage of human and animal needs. This idea is played out in permacultural designs by using spirals in herb gardens, or creating ponds that have wavy undulating shorelines rather than a simple circle or oval (thereby increasing the amount of edge for a given area).
Zones intelligently organize design elements in a human environment based on the frequency of human use and plant or animal needs. Frequently manipulated or harvested elements of the design are located close to the house in zones 1 and 2. Manipulated elements located further away are used less frequently. Zones are numbered from 0 to 5 based on positioning.
Permaculture uses observation of nature to create regenerative systems, and the place where this has been most visible has been on the landscape. There has been a growing awareness though that firstly, there is the need to pay more attention to the peoplecare ethic, as it is often the dynamics of people that can interfere with projects, and secondly that the principles of permaculture can be used as effectively to create vibrant, healthy and productive people and communities as they have been in landscapes.
Domesticated animals are often incorporated into site design, ensuring the efficiency and productivity of the system.Animals, domestic or wild are a critical component of any wild or designed sustainable ecosystem. Research indicates that without the animal’s participation and contribution, ecological integrity is diminished or impossible. Some of the activities that contribute to the system include: foraging to cycle nutrients, clear fallen fruit, weed maintenance, spreading seeds, and pest maintenance. The nutrients are cycled by animals, transformed from their less digestible form (such as grass or twigs) into more nutrient-dense manure.
Several animals can be incorporated into a permaculture system, including cows, goats, chickens, geese, turkey, rabbits, and worms. A more specific explanation of how the animals can be used is seen in the chicken design. Chickens can be used to scratch over the soil, thus breaking down the top soil and using the fecal matter as manure creating a sustainable system. However, in the domestication of these animals, the complexity and elegance lie in an effectiveness and efficiency of the design, including factors like timing and habits to specific areas of a farm. For example, animals require daily attention in a way that is much more demanding than plants.
Agroforestry is an integrated approach of permaculture, which uses the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops or livestock. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems. In agroforestry systems, trees or shrubs are intentionally used within agricultural systems, or non-timber forest products are cultured in forest settings.
Forest gardening is a term permaculturalists use to describe systems designed to mimic natural forests. Forest gardens, like other permaculture designs, incorporate processes and relationships that the designers understand to be valuable in natural ecosystems. The terms forest garden and food forest are used interchangeably in the permaculture literature. Numerous permaculturists are proponents of forest gardens, such as Graham Bell, Patrick Whitefield, Dave Jacke, Eric Toensmeier and Geoff Lawton. Bell started building his forest garden in 1991 and wrote the book The Permaculture Garden in 1995, Whitefield wrote the book How to Make a Forest Garden in 2002, Jacke and Toensmeier co-authored the two volume book set Edible Forest Gardening in 2005, and Lawton presented the film Establishing a Food Forest in 2008.
Tree Gardens, such as Kandyan tree gardens, in South and Southeast Asia, are often hundreds of years old. It is not self-evident whether these tree gardens derived initially from experiences of cultivation and forestry, as is the case in agroforestry, or whether they derived from an understanding of forest ecosystems, as is the case for permaculture systems. Many studies of these systems, especially those that predate the term permaculture, consider these systems to be forms of agroforestry. Permaculturalists may obscure the distinction of permaculture and agroforestry when they include existing and ancient systems of polycropping as examples of food forests.
Food forests and agroforestry are parallel approaches that sometimes lead to similar designs.
Hügelkultur is the practice of burying large volumes of wood to increase soil water retention. The porous structure of wood acts as a sponge when decomposing underground. During the rainy season, masses of buried wood can absorb enough water to sustain crops through the dry season. This technique has been used by permaculturalists Sepp Holzer, Toby Hemenway, Paul Wheaton, and Masanobu Fukuoka.
A natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality.
The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health, or aesthetics. Natural building primarily utilizes abundantly available natural materials (e.g., clay, rock, sand, straw, wood, reeds), and draws heavily on traditional architectural strategies from various climates across the world. In addition to relying on natural building materials, the emphasis on the architectural design is heightened. The orientation of a building, the utilization of local climate and site conditions, the emphasis on natural ventilation through design, fundamentally lessen operational costs and positively impact the environment. Building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment, and water reuse. Most materials are sourced regionally, locally, or even on-site. Straw bales, and various earthen masonry techniques such as adobe bricks, cob (or monolithic adobe), rammed earth and clay-straw infill are common choices for wall material. Roofing coverings often used include sod or "living" roofs, thatch, and wooden shakes or shingles. Rubble trench foundations are popular, as they do not require concrete; likewise, dry-stacked or lime mortared stem walls are common. Natural builders also regularly combine different wall systems in a single building, making best use of different materials' thermal or water resistant properties, for example, where they are most needed in the structure.
Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses and local institutions can make an important contribution to the availability of drinking water. It can supplement the subsoil water level and increase urban greenery. Water collected from the ground, sometimes from areas which are especially prepared for this purpose, is called stormwater harvesting.
Greywater is wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Greywater is largely sterile, but not potable (drinkable). Greywater differs from water from the toilets, which is designated sewage or blackwater to indicate it contains human waste. Blackwater is septic or otherwise toxic and cannot easily be reused. There are, however, continuing efforts to make use of blackwater or human waste. The most notable is for composting through a process known as humanure; a combination of the words human and manure. Additionally, the methane in humanure can be collected and used similar to natural gas as a fuel, such as for heating or cooking, and is commonly referred to as biogas. Biogas can be harvested from the human waste and the remainder still used as humanure. Some of the simplest forms of humanure use include a composting toilet or an outhouse or dry bog surrounded by trees that are heavy feeders which can be coppiced for wood fuel. This process eliminates the use of a standard toilet with plumbing.
In agriculture and gardening, mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil. Any material or combination can be used as mulch, such as stones, leaves, cardboard, wood chips, gravel, etc., though in permaculture mulches of organic material are the most common because they perform more functions. These include absorbing rainfall, reducing evaporation, providing nutrients, increasing organic matter in the soil, feeding and creating habitat for soil organisms, suppressing weed growth and seed germination, moderating diurnal temperature swings, protecting against frost, and reducing erosion. Sheet mulching is an agricultural no-dig gardening technique that attempts to mimic natural processes occurring within forests. Sheet mulching mimics the leaf cover that is found on forest floors. When deployed properly and in combination with other Permacultural principles, it can generate healthy, productive and low maintenance ecosystems.
Sheet mulch serves as a "nutrient bank," storing the nutrients contained in organic matter and slowly making these nutrients available to plants as the organic matter slowly and naturally breaks down. It also improves the soil by attracting and feeding earthworms, slaters and many other soil micro-organisms, as well as adding humus. Earthworms "till" the soil, and their worm castings are among the best fertilizers and soil conditioners. Sheet mulching can be used to reduce or eliminate non-desired plants by starving them of light, and can be more advantageous than using herbicide or other methods of control. 
Grazing has long been blamed for much of the destruction we see in the environment. However, it has been shown that when grazing is modeled after nature, the opposite effect can be seen. Also known as cell grazing, managed intensive rotational grazing (MIRG) is a system of grazing in which ruminant and non-ruminant herds or flocks are regularly and systematically moved to fresh pasture, range, or forest with the intent to maximize the quality and quantity of forage growth. This disturbance is then followed by a period of rest which allows new growth. MIRG can be used with cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, geese, turkeys, ducks, and other animals depending on the natural ecological community that is being mimicked. Sepp Holzer and Joel Salatin have shown how the disturbance caused by the animals can be the spark needed to start ecological succession or prepare ground for planting. Allan Savory's holistic management technique has been likened to "a permaculture approach to rangeland management". One variation on MIRG that is gaining rapid popularity is called eco-grazing. Often used to either control invasives or re-establish native species, in eco-grazing the primary purpose of the animals is to benefit the environment and the animals can be, but are not necessarily, used for meat, milk or fiber.
Keyline design is a technique for maximizing the beneficial use of water resources of a piece of land developed in Australia by farmer and engineer P. A. Yeomans. The Keyline refers to a specific topographic feature linked to water flow which is used in designing the drainage system of the site. The essential factor in this system, the Keyline, is a level or sloping line extending in both directions from a point or divides the two types of relationship, always in the same vertical interval, that a valley bears to its ridges.
Some proponents of permaculture advocate no, or limited, pruning. One advocate of this approach is Sepp Holzer who used the method in connection with Hügelkultur berms. He has successfully grown several varieties of fruiting trees at altitudes (approximately 9,000 feet (2,700 m)) far above their normal altitude, temperature, and snow load ranges. He notes that the Hügelkultur berms kept or generated enough heat to allow the roots to survive during alpine winter conditions. The point of having unpruned branches, he notes, was that the longer (more naturally formed) branches bend over under the snow load until they touched the ground, thus forming a natural arch against snow loads that would break a shorter, pruned, branch.
Masanobu Fukuoka, as part of early experiments on his family farm in Japan, experimented with no-pruning methods, noting that he ended up killing many fruit trees by simply letting them go, which made them become convoluted and tangled, and thus unhealthy. Then he realised this is the difference between natural-form fruit trees and the process of change of tree form that results from abandoning previously-pruned unnatural fruit trees. He concluded that the trees should be raised all their lives without pruning, so they form healthy and efficient branch patterns that follow their natural inclination. This is part of his implementation of the Tao-philosophy of Wú wéi translated in part as no-action (against nature), and he described it as no unnecessary pruning, nature farming or "do-nothing" farming, of fruit trees, distinct from non-intervention or literal no-pruning. He ultimately achieved yields comparable to or exceeding standard/intensive practices of using pruning and chemical fertilisation.
Permaculture helps generate plans that are easy and cheap when it comes to production. Permaculture allows creativity and innovation in farming. The action of permaculture looks and all becoming consciously involved in the process of producing and ensuring abundant food nearby, problem on malnutrition caused by the world hunger problem will inevitably lessen. Permaculture principles in action are powerful forces to help right the environmental wrongs of the last two centuries.
There has been contention over who, if anyone, controls legal rights to the word permaculture: is it trademarked or copyrighted? If so, who holds the legal rights to the use of the word? For a long time Bill Mollison claimed to have copyrighted the word, and his books said on the copyright page, "The contents of this book and the word PERMACULTURE are copyright." These statements were largely accepted at face value within the permaculture community. However, copyright law does not protect names, ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something; it only protects the expression or the description of an idea, not the idea itself. Eventually Mollison acknowledged that he was mistaken and that no copyright protection existed for the word permaculture.
In 2000, Mollison's US based Permaculture Institute sought a service mark (a form of trademark) for the word permaculture when used in educational services such as conducting classes, seminars, or workshops. The service mark would have allowed Mollison and his two Permaculture Institutes (one in the US and one in Australia) to set enforceable guidelines regarding how permaculture could be taught and who could teach it, particularly with relation to the PDC, despite the fact that he had instituted a system of certification of teachers to teach the PDC in 1993. The service mark failed and was abandoned in 2001. Also in 2001 Mollison applied for trademarks in Australia for the terms "Permaculture Design Course" and "Permaculture Design". These applications were both withdrawn in 2003. In 2009 he sought a trademark for "Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual" and "Introduction to Permaculture", the names of two of his books. These applications were withdrawn in 2011. There has never been a trademark for the word permaculture in Australia.
In 2011, Owen Hablutzel argued that "permaculture has yet to gain a large amount of specific mainstream scientific acceptance," and that "the sensitiveness to being perceived and accepted on scientific terms is motivated in part by a desire for permaculture to expand and become increasingly relevant."
In his books Sustainable Freshwater Aquaculture and Farming in Ponds and Dams, Nick Romanowski expresses the view that the presentation of aquaculture in Bill Mollison's books is unrealistic and misleading.
Greg Williams argues that forests cannot be more productive than farmland because the net productivity of forests declines as they mature due to ecological succession. Proponents of permaculture respond that this is true only if one compares data between woodland forest and climax vegetation, but not when comparing farmland vegetation with woodland forest. For example, ecological succession generally results in a forest's productivity rising after its establishment only until it reaches the woodland state (67% tree cover), before declining until full maturity.
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Bruce Charles "Bill" Mollison (4 May 1928 – 24 September 2016) was an Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher and biologist.
He is referred to as the "father of permaculture." Permaculture (a portmanteau of "permanent agriculture") is an integrated system of ecological and environmental design which Mollison co-developed with David Holmgren, and which they together envisioned as a perennial and sustainable form of agriculture. In 1974, Mollison began his collaboration with Holmgren, and in 1978 they published their book Permaculture One, which introduced this design system to the general public.
Mollison founded The Permaculture Institute in Tasmania, and created the education system to train others under the umbrella of permaculture. This education system of "train the trainer", utilized through a formal Permaculture Design Course and Certification (PDC), has taught thousands of people throughout the world how to grow food and be sustainable using permaculture design principles. In 1981 he was awarded with the Right Livelihood Award (also known as "Alternative Nobelprize") for his accomplishments in the field of permaculture.Companion planting
Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. Companion planting is a form of polyculture.
Companion planting is used by farmers and gardeners in both industrialized and developing countries for many reasons. Many of the modern principles of companion planting were present many centuries ago in cottage gardens in England and forest gardens in Asia, and thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica.David Holmgren
David Holmgren (born 1955) is an Australian environmental designer, ecological educator and writer. He is best known as one of the co-originators of the permaculture concept with Bill Mollison.Forest gardening
Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.
Forest gardening is a prehistoric method of securing food in tropical areas. In the 1980s, Robert Hart coined the term "forest gardening" after adapting the principles and applying them to temperate climates.Geoff Lawton
Geoff Lawton (born 10 December 1954) is a permaculture consultant, designer, teacher and speaker. Since 1995 he has specialised in permaculture education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development.Holzer Permaculture
The Holzer Permaculture is a branch of permaculture developed independently from the mainstream permaculture in Austria by Sepp Holzer. It is particularly noteworthy because it grew out of practical application and was relatively detached from the scientific community.Intercropping
Intercropping is a multiple cropping practice involving growing two or more crops in proximity. The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making use of resources or ecological processes that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop.Keyline design
Keyline design is a landscaping technique of maximizing the beneficial use of the water resources of a tract of land. The "keyline" denominates a specific topographic feature related to the natural flow of water on the tract. Keyline design is a system of principles and techniques of developing rural and urban landscapes to optimize use of their water resources.
Australian farmer and engineer P. A. Yeomans invented and developed Keyline design in his books The Keyline Plan, The Challenge of Landscape, Water For Every Farm, and The City Forest.List of permaculture projects
A permaculture project is a deployment of permaculture practices on an ongoing basis.Mycoforestry
Mycoforestry is an ecological forest management system implemented to enhance forest ecosystems and plant communities through the introduction of mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi. Mycoforestry is considered a type of permaculture and can be implemented as a beneficial component of an agroforestry system. Mycoforestry can enhance the yields of tree crops and produce edible mushrooms, an economically valuable product. By integrating plant-fungal associations into a forestry management system, native forests can be preserved, wood waste can be recycled back into the ecosystem, planted restoration sites are enhanced, and the sustainability of forest ecosystems are improved. Mycoforestry is an alternative to the practice of clearcutting, which removes dead wood from forests, thereby diminishing nutrient availability and reducing soil depth.Permaculture Association
The Permaculture Association is a registered charity that promotes the theory and practice of permaculture in Britain and worldwide.
The charity is based at offices in Kirkstall, Leeds, England, but connects a diverse network of individuals and projects, with over 1,400 members and over 100 demonstration sites. There are regional networks: Permaculture Scotland and Paramaethu Cymru.Plants for a Future
Plants For A Future (PFAF) is an online not for profit resource for those interested in edible and useful plants, with a focus on temperate regions. The project currently has a site in the South West of England where many of the plants are being grown on a trial basis, and maintains a small mail order catalogue. The organization's emphasis is on perennial plants.
PFAF is a registered educational charity with strong ethical principals and the following objectives:
The Charity’s objectives are to advance the education of the public by the promotion of all aspects of ecologically sustainable vegan-organic horticulture and agriculture with an emphasis on tree, shrub and other perennial species; and the undertaking of research into such horticulture and agriculture, and dissemination of the results of such research.
The website contains an online database of over 7000 plants that can be grown in the UK; the data is created/collated by Ken Fern, and can be either used online free of charge, or downloaded for a small sum.Polyculture
Polyculture is a form of agriculture in which more than one species is grown at the same time and place in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems. Polyculture is the opposite of monoculture, in which only members of one plant or animal species are cultivated together. Polyculture has traditionally been the most prevalent form of agriculture in most parts of the world and is growing in popularity today due to its environmental and health benefits. There are many types of polyculture including annual polycultures such as intercropping and cover cropping, permaculture, and integrated aquaculture. Polyculture is advantageous because of its ability to control pests, weeds, and disease without major chemical inputs. As such, polyculture is considered a sustainable form of agriculture. However, issues with crop yield and biological competition have caused many modern major industrial food producers to continue to rely on monoculture instead.Raised-bed gardening
Raised-bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is enclosed in three-to-four-foot-wide (1.0–1.2
m) containment units ("beds"), which are usually made of wood, rock, or concrete and which can be of any length or shape. The soil is raised above the surrounding soil (approximately six inches to waist-high) and may be enriched with compost.Vegetable plants are spaced in geometric patterns, much closer together than in conventional row gardening. The spacing is such that when the vegetables are fully grown, their leaves just barely touch each other, creating a microclimate in which weed growth is suppressed and moisture is conserved.Regenerative design
Regenerative design is a process-oriented whole systems approach to design. The term "regenerative" describes processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials. Regenerative design uses whole systems thinking to create resilient and equitable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature.
Designers use systems thinking, applied permaculture design principles, and community development processes to design human and ecological systems. The development of regenerative design has been influenced by approaches found in the biomimicry, biophilic design, ecological economics, circular economics. As well as social movements such as permaculture, transition and the new economy. Regenerative design can also refer to process of designing systems such as restorative justice, rewilding and regenerative agriculture.
A new generation of designers are applying ecologically inspired design to agriculture, architecture, community planning, cities, enterprises, economics and ecosystem regeneration. Many designers use the resilient models observed in systems ecology in their design process and recognize that ecosystems are resilient largely because they operate in closed loop systems. Using this model regenerative design seeks feedback at every stage of the design process. Feedback loops are an integral to regenerative systems as understood by processes used in restorative practice and community development.
Regenerative design is interconnected with the approaches of systems thinking and with New Economy movement. The 'new economy' considers that the current economic system needs to be restructured. The theory is based on the assumption that people and the planet should come first, and that it is human well-being, not economic growth, which should be prioritized.
Whereas the highest aim of sustainable development is to satisfy fundamental human needs today without compromising the possibility of future generations to satisfy theirs, the goal of regenerative design is to develop restorative systems that are dynamic and emergent, and are beneficial for humans and other species. This regeneration process is participatory, iterative and individual to the community and environment it is applied to. This process intends to revitalize communities, human and natural resources, and for some, society as a whole.
In recent years regenerative design is made possible on a larger scale using open source socio- technical platforms and technological systems as used in SMART cities. It is an includes community and city development processes like gathering feedback, participatory governance, sortition and participatory budgeting.Robyn Francis
Robyn Francis is an Australian permaculture figure, designer, educator, presenter, innovator and founder of Permaculture College Australia.
Having worked in Permaculture since 1983 permaculture throughout Australia and overseas, Robyn was founding director Permaculture International Ltd (PIL) in 1987, designer and creator of Djanbung Gardens, Australia's leading permaculture centre, and was member of the National Reference Group which developed the Accredited Permaculture Training™ (APT) for Permaculture International.Robyn has dedicated the past 25 years to empowering people to be effective agents of change. Her students include some of permaculture's leading teachers and activists.Three Sisters (agriculture)
The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: winter squash, maize (corn), and climbing beans (typically tepary beans or common beans). Originating in Mexico, these three crops were carried northward, up the river valleys over generations of time, far afield to the Mandan and Iroquois who, among others, used these "Three Sisters" as trade goods.
In a technique known as companion planting the three crops are planted close together. Flat-topped mounds of soil are built for each cluster of crops. Each mound is about 30 cm (12 in) high and 50 cm (20 in) wide, and several maize seeds are planted close together in the center of each mound. In parts of the Atlantic Northeast, rotten fish or eels are buried in the mound with the maize seeds, to act as additional fertilizer where the soil is poor. When the maize is 15 cm (6 inches) tall, beans and squash are planted around the maize, alternating between the two kinds of seeds. The process to develop this agricultural knowledge took place over 5,000–6,500 years. Squash was domesticated first, with maize second and then beans being domesticated. Squash was first domesticated 8,000–10,000 years ago.The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Corn, beans, and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and all nine essential amino acids, allowing most Native American tribes to thrive on a plant-based diet.Native Americans throughout North America are known for growing variations of Three Sisters gardens. The milpas of Mesoamerica are farms or gardens that employ companion planting on a larger scale. The Ancestral Puebloans are known for adopting this garden design in a drier environment. The Tewa and other peoples of the Southwestern United States often included a "fourth Sister", Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome serrulata), which attracts bees to help pollinate the beans and squash.The Three Sisters planting method is featured on the reverse of the 2009 US Sacagawea dollar.Treebog
A treebog is a type of low-tech compost toilet. It consists of a raised platform above a compost pile surrounded by densely planted willow trees or other nutrient-hungry vegetation. It can be considered an example of permaculture design, as it functions as a system for converting urine and feces to biomass, without the need to handle excreta.Vegan organic gardening
Vegan organic gardening and farming is the organic cultivation and production of food crops and other crops with a minimal amount of exploitation or harm to any animal. Vegan gardening and stock-free farming methods use no animal products or by-products, such as bloodmeal, fish products, bone meal, feces, or other animal-origin matter, because the production of these materials is viewed as either harming animals directly, or being associated with the exploitation and consequent suffering of animals. Some of these materials are by-products of animal husbandry, created during the process of cultivating animals for the production of meat, milk, skins, furs, entertainment, labor, or companionship; the sale of by-products decreases expenses and increases profit for those engaged in animal husbandry, and therefore helps support the animal husbandry industry, an outcome most vegans find unacceptable.
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