What is Permaculture?

Many of us avid gardeners and DIYers have heard the word “permaculture” here and there.  But what is permaculture? The term can be hard to explain and therefor hard to understand.  Most of us think it sounds cool and is probably a good idea, but when confronted with the direct question to describe this funky idea, are left stumped.

Permaculture came from the combination of the word “permanent” and “culture”.  “Culture” is used in words like “agriculture” and “aquaculture” to mean growth.  So, permaculture could be described as permanent growth.

This permanent growth idea can be lofty and sound arrogant, but the idea is born out of an age where we are seeing the quick degradation of natural resources in order to make a quick buck.  This is not permanent growth.  Luckily, this wasteful thinking of the past is now being overshadowed by people who want to see everything thrive, from people to plants.  This is where the idea of permaculture stems out from.

So permaculture is an idea, or methodology, to sustain life on this planet in a more efficient way.  But how does it make the world run more efficiently?

When trying to make a system the most efficient, a team needs to come together to utilize the best aspects of each resource and team member.  In permaculture, humans team up with the natural processes already happening on earth.

Photo: m-louis

Photo: m-louis

Humans do the planting, digging, construction and other skills that we have developed.  Nature does the composting, growing, heat exchanges, and other natural processes.  Together each member looks out for the other by providing what they can for the betterment of the overall team.

By studying nature, we can team up with our planet to build food forests that never go barren.  We can design smarter growing spaces to produce more and healthier food.  We can walk through a sky bridge made only of edible plants on our way to our morning meetings.  We can literally grow with the planet instead of tearing it apart.

Permaculture can lead us to a more peaceful lifestyle.  Being in touch with nature can solve many of the severe environmental, social, economic, and cultural problems that we face today.  Permaculture is really a tool that we should all be utilizing to help each other grow for centuries to come.

Permaculture is the ultimate environmental symbiosis. Do you practice permaculture? What do you love about it?

PrintBy Jake Frazier

Jake Frazier is an outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Residential Ecology, a sustainable ecological resource management company. He uses existing natural systems to improve the quality of life for both humans and the Earth. Jake is interested in permaculture, living systems and exploring. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


10 thoughts on “What is Permaculture?

  1. Great post. I don’t do permaculture but the way in which you describe it make it sound so enticing. Thanks Bill


  2. We just bought 3 acres and the plan is to use Permaculture , my husband knows more about then I do but it’s exciting to try, and hopefully it will work for us ,hoping our children will enjoy it too!!!


  3. really informative& thanks for sharing this- I find there is a spiritual component to permaculture too – working in a connected way with all life gives a peaceful purpose to our land based activity.


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