Principles are based on close observation of nature, traditional sustainable
agriculture systems earth sciences and common sense.
are definitions and examples of each of the Permaculture principles with
relation to sustainable land management and property design.
for diversity and variety not monoculture. Aim to integrate a variety
of beneficial species of food, plants and animals in the landscape. This
builds a stable and interactive polycultural system that provides for
human needs and also the needs of other species. Polycultures are stable
as they reflect the design of a natural ecosystem.
In a diverse garden you will find many foods all year round to provide
a healthy and balanced diet. There will also be habitat for animals
and insects which help in natural pest control; flowers to attract pollinators
and create a beautiful garden; herbs for teas, flavour and medicine
etc.... Using this principle of diversity, you can create a garden which
has much more food available in the same space. It is also recognises
the need to provide and maintain the habitat for other species without
which we could not survive.
is more life on the edge where two systems overlap. Systems can then access
the resources of both. Use the edge effect and other natural patterns
observed to create the best effect. (There are no straight lines in nature.)
If a pond or dam has a shallow ledge it provides places for fish to
breed, for plants to grow which can feed the fish. Also, with a wavy
edge it can provide more edge for this habitat.
things in a permaculture design to minimise the use of energy (human and
fossil fuels). Utilise the energy and resources both on-site and from
outside as effectively as possible. This also saves time, energy and money.
Internal energy- eg. Use slope and gravity to move water rather than
energy - eg. direct cooling breezes into your house with trees, but
shield your house and garden from the strong winds, which can cause
damage, or be unpleasant. Place the kitchen garden as close to the house
as possible. It therefore has easy access for harvesting and maintenance
and it is in view so that you can protect it from potential damaging
effects (stray animals etc)
a natural system there is no waste or pollution - the output from one
natural process is always the resource for another natural process. Recycle
and reuse your local resources as many times as possible within a polycultural
Recycle nutrients on-site (eg food scraps to compost) so that you do
not need to import expensive fertiliser. Also use your wastewater to
water and fertilise plants - therefore not creating polluting runoff
into nearby waterways. Plant roots take up these nutrients and turn
them into food, in the process cleansing the water.
human-scale systems and be space efficient. Choose simple, appropriate
and effective technologies. Do as much as you are able. Start small and
take achievable steps to reach your goal successfully. Create groups which
enable people to feel they can actively participate, be involved in the
decision making and feel a connection to and ownership of the process.
Design to make intensive use of space - create multi-layered and diverse
gardens. This allows you to meet your needs from less space and in a
global sense maximises the space available for natural systems to maintain
the ecological balance, which supports human and other life.
natural methods and processes to achieve a task. Find things in nature
(plants, animals, microbes etc) that enjoy doing the task and minimise
the inputs required from outside.
like to scratch. In preparation for a garden bed, use chickens to scratch
up the area eat the. weeds/weed seeds and fertilise it before planting.
Comfrey (herb) has deep roots, which bring nutrients from deep down
in the soil. The leaves can then be used to make a rich fertiliser instead
of chemical fertilisers.
worms like to decompose organic matter. While doing this they make holes
in the soil which allows the movement of air and water (saves you from
having to dig). They also leave natural fertiliser in the soil as they
move through it, which feeds the plants making them stronger against
pests and more nutritious to eat. Worms make healthy soil (healthy soil
= healthy plants = healthy people). Therefore help the worms do the
garden digging and fertilising for you by returning organic matter (their
food) to the soil and by mulching the soil thus protecting their home
each vital need and essential function in more than one way (don't put
all your eggs in one basket!). Also recognise that there's more than one
way to achieve a task.
a monoculture garden, there is only one type of food available. If that
single crop fails due to pests and diseases, there is no other food
in your garden. Where possible grow many types of food - vegetables,
fruits, leafy greens, herbs, tubers, grains, legumes, and nuts.
don't rely on just once source of water - try to access as many sources
as possible - river, dam, pond, tank, town water, bore, well etc...
If one source is contaminated or depleted, there will be another source
of available water (a vital need).
has many uses and functions. In permaculture we aim to design so that
every element performs at least 3 functions.
A tree can perform many functions - food, shade, timber, fibre, microclimate,
habitat, soil improvement and maintenance, mulch, animal fodder etc....
Choose species, which have the most functions you require and place
them where they can be of the most use and meet your needs most efficiently.
with nature and the processes of natural systems. Facilitate natural growth
and help to accelerate it naturally.
When establishing a garden or orchard, delicate plants need to be protected
from harsh sun, wind and rain. Use hardy and fast-growing pioneer species
to create a good environment for their growth and to provide protection.
element is placed in relationship to others so that they can benefit each
other. Create supportive environments by placing things together which
help to develop a self-sustaining system, replicating a natural ecosystem.
From a functional perspective - those things used together, place together.
This allows more efficient use of a space and minimisation of your energy
in utilising these resources.
Companion planting- ie plant garlic under citrus to help prevent aphids.
possible, place the compost heap so that it is easily accessible from
the kitchen (for food scraps), and close to the garden where the finished
compost will be used. In addition, it is good to place the compost heap
uphill from the garden as the nutrients that leach from the heap will
run straight into the vegetable garden and fertilise it without you
having to do any work Š itÕs much easier to carry heavy loads of compost
Sustainability Education and Ecological Design
50 Crystal Waters, Kilcoy Lane, Conondale, QLD 4552 Australia
ph/fax: +61 (0)7 5494 4833
SEED International was formerly known as Sustainable Futures)
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