What’s Permaculture?

Permaculture is an ethically-based design system for sustainable living and land use. It functions through mimicking of patterns and relationships we observe in natural ecosystems. It is fundamentally a process of consciously designing the places we live to be 'sustainable', in the sense of being able to persist indefinitely. Core principles of permaculture are Care for the Earth, Care for the People and Fair Share.


Permaculture is an idea that was pioneered in Australia in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren who drew on principles from other disciplines including organic agriculture, sustainable forestry, horticulture and agroforestry, as well as knowledge from indigenous communities about the land.


The term ‘Permaculture’ was originally developed as an combination of the terms ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’, but later also came to be linked with the idea of ‘permanent culture’, due to the social aspects involved with the creation and up keep of a permaculture garden.


It’s an alternative to industrial agriculture based on perennial polycultures – a diversity of long-lived plants arranged to compliment each other. Food is just one part of the permaculture toolkit. It also addresses water, energy, waste, shelter, community, local economy, governance and community facilitation. It’s broad and it’s exciting and we invite you to get involved in PermablitzACT and see for yourself.


Here are some ideas on how you can apply 'permaculture principles' to your garden in your back (front, or side) yards.

  • Set up your garden based on zones, related to frequency of use, access and resources/ characteristics of those areas
  • 'Companion' or 'guild' planting
  • Condition and build the soil rather than adding 'nasty' chemicals
  • Harvest, redirect and store water, using methods such as swales, sinks, tanks and greywater systems
  • Use onsite resources, such as green waste (prunings, fallen leaves, grass), kitchen waste, greywater, and perhaps even 'humanure'
  • Create a 'closed loop system' rather than bringing in outside resources
  • Create biodiversity by using different plant species, and establishing a 'food forest' set up
  • Attract bees and insects to help with pollination, by growing flowering plants and avoiding harmful sprays
  • Attract 'good bugs' and animals to reduce pests and problems, by growing 'food' that the good bugs prefer, and creating habitats
  • Find solutions within problems, such as using weeds to make a 'fertiliser' tea


Further reading

Permaculture (Wikipedia)

What is Permaculture? (Permaculture Research Institute of Australia)

A list of Permaculture Books (and try your local library too!)

For a summary of permaculture ethics and design principles see