What is Permaculture?

Permaculture. A copyright word, owned as a common copyright by the Permaculture Institutes & their graduates. It is derived from ‘Permanent’ and ‘Culture’, as follows:

  • Permanent: From the Latin permanens, to remain to the end, to persist throughout (per = through, manere = to continue)
  • Culture: From the Latin cultura – cultivation of land, or the intellect. Now generalized to mean all those habits, beliefs, or activities than sustain human societies.

“Permaculture is an integrated, evolving system of perennial and self-perpetuating plants and animal species useful to man.” –Bill Mollison and David Holmgren – 1st definition of Permaculture

“Permaculture is defined as consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for the provision of local needs…more precisely I see Permaculture as the use of systems thinking and design principles that provide the organising framework for implementing the above vision.” –David Holmgren ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ 2004

“Permaculture is the art and science of consciously designing human systems to increase quality of life and enhance and regenerate ecosystems – by following the patterns of nature, we can all experience abundance.” – Dr. David Suzuki, geneticist, broadcaster and international environmental advocate

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions……Design is a connection between things. It is not water, or a chicken or the tree. It is how the water, the chicken and the tree are connected. It’s the opposite of what we are taught in school. Education takes everything and pulls it apart and makes no connections at all. Permaculture makes the connection because as soon as you have the connection you can feed the chicken from the tree.” – Bill Mollison


“The question that must be addressed is not how to care for the planet but how to care for each of the planet’s millions of human and natural neighborhoods, each of its small pieces and parcels of land, each one of which is in some precious way different from all the others.”
– Wendell Berry, Poet and farmer