What is Permaculture?
We use permaculture to create systems that provide for human needs and the earth’s needs by cultivating mutually beneficial relationships – at every scale. The permaculture approach recognizes that the health of a human community – its food, water, shelter, economy, and medicine – depend on the health of the local ecosystem, which in turn depends on the health of all ecosystems. In applying this design concept we follow patterns found in pristine natural ecosystems and mimic them in our design of human systems.
Three ethics ensure all our actions and decisions support the mutually beneficial relationships that allow ecosystems to flourish and provide a moral compass for our work: Care for Earth Care for People Reinvest Surplus These ethics are derived from observations of how healthy systems work and sustain life over generations. To put it simply, ignoring any one of the ethics will necessarily have a negative impact on the others, today or in the future. However, if we take the time to develop systems that support all three ethics, these systems will be resilient and abundant. While we are only one company, we are committed to trying to make a difference in our community and foster a society that also respects this ethics. At Permaculture Artisans, these foundational ethics ensure our projects are ecologically and socially just, as well as fiscally sustainable. We are so grateful for the many clients, collaborators and friends that join us in this effort! Let’s keep moving forward together!
Seeing the forest and the trees
First dreamt up by two Aussies trying to farm in a drought, permaculture emerged in the 1970s as an integrative design science geared toward fostering healthy ecosystems with minimum inputs. Contrary to the myopic, segmented view that characterizes the dominant approach to land management today, permaculture focuses on the full picture, looking at complete systems and their internal dynamics. We often say that permaculture design focuses as much on the relationships between elements as the elements themselves. As every element is understood as an integral part of the whole system, the system itself becomes more dynamic and efficient. For example, looking at the full hydrological cycle of a site allows us to recognize that even in a drought, enough water flows across many landscapes to meet its water requirements. In our Mediterranean climate, the challenge is capturing the prolific winter rains and making that water available during summer’s dry months. We have many tools for storing, spreading and sinking water that allow us to do just that by leveraging the relationships between soil and air, water and soil, plants and water, etc. Again and again, permacluture projects have shown that fostering an understanding of and supporting these enhanced relationships results in reduced maintenance and increased yields. A great example is the use of mulch – a common practice in permaculture land management is to cover any bare soil with mulch. This isn’t due to any proclivity for the smell of chipped wood. Rather, it’s because mulch supports many relationships in an ecosystem. For example:
- Water-Air: soil moisture is increased because of less evapotranspiration,
- Soil-soil microbes: soil microbes are fed as mulch decomposes
- Flora-climate: plants benefit from moderated temperature and humidity variations, and
- Human-land: mulch suppresses weeds and reduces maintenance needs of a garden
This example offers a glimpse into how thinking about relationships helps us design interventions in a system that pay multiple dividends. Taking the whole system into account is a key part of all the work we do. Even if Permaculture Artisans is installing only part of a whole system, those parts will be designed and installed so as to optimize mutual benefits with the other elements on site or so that future elements can be seamlessly integrated. We can’t stress enough the benefits of taking the appropriate time to design in this way. Our goal is to build systems that last indefinitely and synergistically with the whole site and surrounding environment. As you explore this website and the different kinds of services we offer, remember this foundation in our designs and imagine all of these services woven into a holistic tapestry for your land.
A tailored approach, every time
We approach every project as a work of art that enhances the life-sustaining systems humming away at each site. Our first step in any project is to observe the systems– from water, plant and nutrient cycles to human use and wildlife. Through thoughtful and protracted observation, we assess the health of these systems and design interventions that mimic nature to nurture and/ or maintain a healthy balance for the particular site, ecosystem, or community. Some sites may share certain characteristics: rainfall will be similar across neighborhoods and counties. But understanding what makes a site unique often leads to better understanding how to support healthy systems there. Anchoring our design in the natural processes occuring on a site ensures our projects restore the earth’s vital systems and human social systems while adapting to the ever-changing natural environment and social fabric.