What is Permaculture?

Permaculture Definition

Permaculture, a term coined by co-founder Bill Mollison, has been defined in many ways. Often referred to as ‘permanent agriculture’ or ‘permanent culture’, permaculture is a philosophy that seeks to observe and mimic the organic patterns in nature, in order to create regenerative ecosystems. Through varying principles, ethics, and tools, permaculture aims to consider the systematic functions behind the basic human needs of food, water, waste, shelter, energy, and community, with the view to create efficient, regenerative systems, leading to self-sufficiency and empowerment for all the elements of that system.

While many consider permaculture to be a gardening handbook, the school of thought is not limited to agricultural methods. Permaculture principles apply to all walks of life, with designers employing the techniques of the philosophy to create environmental, social, and economic systems that go beyond sustainability and deep into consumption reduction, regeneration, and responsible production.

Permaculture Ethics

Permaculture works on 3 basics ethics: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.


Earth Care seeks to work toward creating systems that work with nature rather than against it to help repair the damage caused by modern society’s consumptive modes of operation. Where the world has been functioning with linear systems that extract and use resources before disgarding of them, permaculture looks to cycle energy; increasing the yield of resources before cycling the ‘waste’ products back into the system to generate new energy cycles. Using biological resources and by reducing patterns of consumption, permaculture seeks to reduce the human footprint on the Earth to create more diverse ecosystems in which people work within the Earth’s systems rather than expecting them to work for us.

People Care is the sociological branch of permaculture which seeks to empower all people. While current political, social, and economic systems work in favour of the few at the expense of the majority, permaculture encourages and teaches self-sufficiency, community, and localism, providing the educative tools to achieve this. By bringing power back to the hands of the people, permaculture provides the empowerment for liberation which ensures that the people within the system can work together effectively to address everyone’s needs.

Fair Share is sometimes referred to as ‘sharing the surplus’ or ‘reinvesting into the system’. This refers to everything from sharing extra veggie yields to investing time and training into educating those around you. By caring for the earth and caring for people, each person takes only their fair share, while sharing fairly with every element in the system, whether that be their next-door neighbour, brother, mother, or the sparrow who comes to nest in the trees. Biodiverse ecosystems utilise the organic patterns in nature to regenerate themselves to keep the system thriving, creating economic, social, and environmental sustainability.