In Permaculture Design we hold dear a set of design ethics developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. These three ethics are: 1. Care of People 2. Care of the Earth 3. Share the Surplus
David Holmgren later published his twelve design principals as a guide: 1. Observe and Interact 2. Catch and Store Energy 3. Obtain a Yield 4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback 5. Use and Value Renewable Resourses and Services 6. Produce no Waste 7. Design From Patterns To Details 8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate 9. Use Small and Slow Solutions 10. Use and Value Diversity 11. Use Edges and Value The Marginal 12. Creatively Use and Respond To Change
As permaculturists, we strive to work with, rather than subdue nature, as have most all cultures prior to our current profit oriented society. By working with natural systems, in a natural way, we are able to generate new topsoil at a far greater rate than does nature, building soil structure and fertility in order to produce copious, nutrient rich food while keeping pests and disease at bay.
By assembling systems in a complementary fashion such that the outputs of one become the inputs of another, energies and resources are retained on-site. Each system or component should also serve multiple functions, such ad chickens, producing food as eggs and meat, but also controlling troublesome insects, clearing unwanted plants from a planting area while preparing the soil surface and adding valuable manure to enhance fertility.
Minimizing energy input as labour and time are important concepts in Permaculture. Placing elements of the design within the property in relation to the frequency of use saves steps for the client. Placing complementary elements in close proximity so that outputs of one can be easily delivered to the other, a heavy reliance on perennial vegetables and fruits are key practices employed in minimizing energy expended in maintaining a Permaculture system. Soil building and heavy mulching, “composting in place”, promote copious plant growth along with increased water holding ability freeing the resident of the need to irrigate and use fertilizers.
Further, using earthworks to produce surface features which capture and store water in the ground (ground with greater water holding capacity due to soil building efforts), surface storage ponds when appropriate and the recycling of water such as domestic gray water we are able to construct hardy, very drought tolerant, highly productive systems. All this with a minimum of input in terms of materials and labour into the system.
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