Permaculture is a design approach based on connecting different disciplines, strategies, and techniques to create regenerative and resilient human settlements. The word itself, coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, is a contraction of both “permanent culture” and “permanent agriculture”. The aim of permaculture is to design ecologically sound, economically prosperous human communities. It is guided by a set of ethics: care for the Earth, care for the people, and return of one’s surplus.
Simply put: Permaculture is a sustainable design science based on observation of natural patterns.
How do we use permaculture at the Dirt Rich School?
The goal of The Dirt Rich School is to teach students how to use the principles and techniques of permaculture first hand. In order to design ecologically rich, dynamic, permanent landscapes, we first need to learn and be able to identify many important aspects of ecology. We learn to ask and answer questions like “Where would nature put this?” “How would this play out if nature took its course?” “What can I do to mimic natural processes?”. In answering these questions, we start to take cues from those natural cycles, and ultimately figure out how they can be properly and purposefully integrated into our landscapes.
While classroom lectures are vital to learn and understand the fundamentals and concepts, we intertwine them with a strongly emphasized hands-on approach. By seeing and doing everything first hand, students can come away with the skills and knowledge they need to approach new, individual landscapes.
“Permaculture uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals combined with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system for city and country, using the smallest practical area.”
Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison