Saturday, January 20, 2007

Perma Principles

A friend and reader sent these Permaculture Priniciples from Pattern

Although, I in no way think we should imagine that all of us want to be gardeners, and that we each should grow our own food, perhaps each of us should at least have a garden; (no matter how small) and, each of us would probably do well to understand these principles and contemplate how they might apply to many of our other endeavors.

Primary Principles for Functional Design:

1. Observe. Use protracted and thoughtful observation rather than prolonged and thoughtless action. Observe the site and its elements in all seasons. Design for specific sites, clients, and climates.

2. Connect. Use relative location: Place elements in ways that create useful relationships and time-saving connections among all parts. The number of connections among elements creates a healthy, diverse ecosystem, not the number of elements.

3. Catch and store energy and materials. Identify, collect, and hold the useful flows moving through the site. By saving and re-investing resources, we maintain the system and capture still more resources.

4. Each element performs multiple functions. Choose and place each element in a system to perform as many functions as possible. Increasing beneficial connections between diverse components creates a stable whole. Stack elements in both space and time.

5. Each function is supported by multiple elements. Use multiple methods to achieve important functions and to create synergies. Redundancy protects when one or more elements fail.

6. Make the least change for the greatest effect. Find the “leverage points” in the system and intervene there, where the least work accomplishes the most change.

7. Use small scale, intensive systems. Start at your doorstep with the smallest systems that will do the job, and build on your successes, with variations. Grow by chunking.

Principles for Living and Energy Systems

8. Use the edge effect. The edge—the intersection of two environments—is the most diverse place in a system, and is where energies and materials accumulate. Optimize the amount of edge.

9. Accelerate succession. Mature ecosystems are more diverse and productive than young ones, so use design to jump-start succession.

10. Use biological and renewable resources. Renewable resources (usually plants and animals) reproduce and build up over time, store energy, assist yield, and interact with other elements.

11. Recycle energy. Supply local and on-site needs with energy from the system, and reuse this energy as many times as possible. Every cycle is an opportunity for yield.

12. Turn problems into solutions. Constraints can inspire creative design. “We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.”— Bill Mollison

13. Get a yield. Design for both immediate and long-term returns from your efforts: “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Set up positive feedback loops to build the system and repay your investment.

14. Abundance is unlimited. The designer’s imagination and skill is a bigger limit to yield than any physical limit.

15. Mistakes are tools for learning. Evaluate your trials. Making mistakes is a sign you’re trying to do things better.

In the 1820s in the US, 2 million farmers fed the 2.9 million population. Today less that 1% of the population feeds our 300 million people.

My hope is that the wisdom found in permaculture will be applied to a new generation of large scale robotic food growing techniques so that balance and health can be restored to the seriously deteriorated petro-dependent corporate food chains we depend on today.

Time to eat.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a new sub-acre farming method called SPIN-Farming that reflects many of the values of permaculture while offering a simple and accessible farming system that can ve adapted by anyone anywhere. SPIN makes farming compatible with the built environment. It requires minimal infrastructure and provides a specific process for generating significant income from land bases under an acre in size. It therefore removes the two big barriers to entry for first generation farmers – they do not need much land or financial resources to start a SPIN farm operation. By re-casting farming as a small business in a city or town, it makes it possible for many more people to practice farming professionally.
SPIN was developed by a Canadian farmer named Wally Satzewich, and more information and photos illustrating how SPIN works can be found at
Roxanne Christensen

7:09 AM  

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