Written by Plant With Purpose on August 15, 2011 in General

by Colin Richard common (guest blogger and longtime volunteer)

It was with great excitement that I recently finished my certificate in permaculture design up in Sonoma County.  What, you ask, is permaculture, and why mention it here on the Plant With Purpose blog?  The reasons are many, my friends!

A conjunction of the words “permanent” and “agriculture”, permaculture is a collection of methodologies for developing sustainable human settlements officially conceived in the 1970s by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.  Three fundamental concepts guide permaculture design, being earth care, people care, and fair share or return of surplus (to the natural systems from whence they came).  From here, numerous seasoned practitioners have lists of principles by which to live out these directives, and they are applied to many structures that give our lives, and all life on the planet, its shape.  These include, but are not limited to, land care and nature stewardship, building, tools and technology, education and culture, health and spiritual wellbeing, finance and economics, and land tenure and community governance.  There is a 72 – hour curriculum, known as the Permaculture Design Course, that entitles one to a certificate in permaculture design (which I am quite proud to possess now).

The concepts of permaculture came to me fairly easily as I investigated them.  Granted, I am one of those up-till-midnight-on-Wikipedia kinds of people, but to be honest, it was my longstanding followership of Plant With Purpose that set me up to comprehend the vast swath of concepts that permaculture encompasses.  Some standouts would be agroforestry, biointensive gardening, soil erosion barriers (some types are know as “swales”, a very common permaculture technique), efficient woodstoves, microenterprise and community banking … the list goes on.  And of course, permaculture acknowledges the deep need for people’s spiritual lives to be sustained, which is central to Plant With Purpose’s work. 

To the chagrin of some, all the world is not likely to adopt permaculture as a way of life and therefore solve the world’s ills overnight. Neither does it offer a summative categorization of Plant With Purpose’s programs.  It is, however, a set of truly lifesaving natural resource management practices that have changed countless lives, especially those of the rural poor with whom Plant With Purpose works. 

To learn more about permaculture, say hello to my good friend Wikipedia:

or the Permaculture Institute

Pictured below: From California to Haiti- traning on the use of an ‘a-frame’ to plant along contour lines in order to mitigate and prevent erosion on steep hillsides. One of the many places of overlap between permaculture practice and trainings given to rural farmers by Plant With Purpose staff.








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