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What is Permaculture?

What is Permaculture and the Transition Movement?

Permaculture is a new term for the old practice of ecological design. It is a contraction of "permanent culture." Permaculture designers work with nature, arranging human gardens and communities into fully functioning ecosystems.

The Permaculture Designer’s Manual, written by co- founder Bill Mollison, describes permaculture as: "The conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally 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."

Permaculture farms and gardens create "food forests" of fruit, nut and other useful trees with understory berry shrubs, herbs, vegetables, beans, grains and vining plants. Meaningful relationships are established between the different elements in a garden system to allow the different species and inorganic elements to meet each other’s needs naturally. As in wild ecosystems, different life forms and inorganic elements cooperate to take care of one another and recycle each other's wastes. The "waste" of one becomes "food" for others.

The heart of permaculture is pattern. By observing the relationship patterns between species and inorganic elements in natural eco-communities and then applying these patterns creatively in our own gardens, we can create productive ecosystems that exist and evolve as a forest does. Permaculture maximizes garden productivity while minimizing human labor. Indigenous peoples with successful long-term horticultural and agricultural systems have grown food this way for thousands of years.

Permaculture principles are also applicable to economic systems, urban design, systems of governance, international trade and much more. British permaculturalist Rob Hopkins began the Transition Movement in 2005 to help communities transition away from fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources in this post-peak oil century and era of human caused climate change. The Transition Movement is a positive, proactive movement that can improve community connections and the quality of life for individuals and families.

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Preface by Dr. Gary Nabhan

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