Using Permaculture to Design Your Life

By: Alexandria Riedinger

Sep 06 2011

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Category: Sustainability

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Aperture:f/11
Focal Length:28mm
ISO:400
Shutter:1/25 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 7D

“By observing the patterns and cycles that nature uses to solve design problems, we can replicate these forms in our gardens, not as mere static shapes but as dynamic solutions that save labor, resources, and energy. Then our gardens can be almost as interlinked as nature is, producing no waste or pollutants, needing little excess labor, ripe with habitat, yielding abundantly.”
– Toby Henenway, author of Gaia’s Garden.

From this past year I’ve uncovered a lot about permaculture and the principles that surround it, both from a lot of reading and a lot of experimenting. A great book I have called Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture has been extremely helpful and explains thoroughly the principles of this practice. And as I’ve experienced, it’s a practice that leads you undeniably into a lifestyle.

Permaculture, short for “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture” was coined by two Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. According to Gaia’s Garden, it “uses a set of principles and practices to design sustainable human settlements.” It goes a lot deeper than just gardening and growing things that look good together.

It teaches you to see how perfectly nature works and that if we mimic what has been thriving already for billions of years, we can create something that is sustainable. As a set of tools with a broad scope, permaculture can help us design not only organic gardens, buildings, and communities, but lifestyles as well. Think of it as a set of tools we can use to design something using the sustainable techniques of nature.

There is so much more to share about permaculture and I will do my best to keep you updated with what I learn and practice. For now, here is the first of ten core principles used for permaculture designs that I’ll be sharing every Tuesday:

1. Observe

Use thoughtful observation rather than prolonged and thoughtless action. Observe the site and it’s elements in all seasons. Design for specific sites, clients, and cultures. In retrospect, take the time to see the larger picture and take into account what is already there. In your life, observe the relationships you have, the feelings you feel, and the thoughts you have. Then, you can design your life knowing what you have to work with and what you ultimately want.