Today is International Permaculture Day. It’s the first one, an extension of Australia’s national permaculture day which has been running for three years. Australia is the spiritual home of permaculture, developed as it was by two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Or at least they came up with the name. What they were essentially doing is observing ancient and sustainable ways of living, and codifying the rules that made them work. In Mollison’s words, “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action.”
The result is a set of ecological design principles for creating sustainable systems. Those principles include zero waste, observation, conserving energy, minimum intervention, and valuing diversity, among various others. They are often considered in the context of agriculture, but they can be applied to anything from urban planning to organising your sock drawer, should you be so inclined. The Transition Towns movement is inspired by permaculture, applying it to energy, transport and economics as well as growing food.
Our current way of life depletes the soil, pollutes the air, and results in ever decreasing resources. It’s not so much a way of life as a way of death. If future generations are to flourish, we need to re-invent our systems with a long-term view, and permaculture is a toolbox for doing just that. If you’ve never looked into it, perhaps today would be a good day to start.