What Is Permaculture?

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Here is a definition from the website Tropical Permaculture:

“The term permaculture combines the words permanent and culture, or permanent and agriculture, and that is the first hint to what it’s all about.The philosophy behind permaculture was developed about thirty years ago in Australia by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. During his many years as a wildlife biologist Bill Mollison had witnessed first hand the destruction that humans are causing in natural systems, but he also had a chance to observe how these natural ecosystems work and what keeps them in balance. Permaculture design is a result of these observations.

Bill Mollison and his then student David Holmgren first published their ideas in 1978, in a book called Permaculture One, introducing a “design system for creating sustainable human environments”, based on close observation of natural systems. In a later book, Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison writes:

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The aim is to create systems that are ecologically-sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term.

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.”

General Resources:

  • Read more about Permaculture Principles here.
  • Read about permaculture design here.

California Permaculture Certification Courses & Workshops:

  • Occidental Arts and Ecology Center: education center in Occidental (Sonoma County) offering Permaculture Design Certification courses
  • Regenerative Design Institute: offering permaculture design and leadership courses
  • Merritt College: Oakland Community College offers a certificate in permaculture design
  • Earth Activist Training: Permaculture Design Certification course with Starhawk, with a focus on social permaculture, organizing tools and spirit
  • Permaculture Skills Center: education center with intensive permaculture vocational training programs, based in Sebastopol
  • Daily Acts: community action organization offering Permaculture Design Certification courses
  • Soul Flower Farm: This organization is committed to empowering the socially disenfranchised and injecting balance in our food and social systems.
  • Quail Springs: Quail Springs draws students to learn about land and watershed restoration, natural building, nature-based reskilling, youth leadership (ecological and social justice oriented), and youth empowerment events.
  • SF Urban Permaculture Institute: Designs their training to meet the needs of people that live in dense urban settlements who want to learn more about permaculture with emphasis on applying permaculture design to cities.
  • Circlefoot Permaculture: An ecological design/built landscape and farm contractor specializing in the regeneration and restoration of landscape and farm land.
  • Ojai Permaculture: Discover tools for community structures and resiliency to educate the people of Ojai and empower them to create positive and solution-based change
  • Heartwood Institute: a leading Healing Arts school, teaching massage therapy, permaculture and integrative medicine.
  • Santa Cruz Permaculture Skills Course: Teaches both hands-on techniques and social methodologies to empower you in creating greater connection and sustainability in your life, today and for future generations.
  • CalEarth Institute: the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, is a nonprofit committed to providing solutions to the human need for shelter through research, development, and education in earth architecture.

Reskilling

Northern California is rich with organizations and educators that can help us develop the skills we need to strengthen and regenerate our homes, communities, and ecosystems. Through the use of permaculture principles and appropriate technology, communities are launching projects ranging from aquaponics and mushroom cultivation to seed saving and rainwater harvesting, canning, beekeeping, and so much more.

The following programs and organizations host reskilling workshops:

East Bay

North Bay

North Coast

Regional

Educational Events

Get more informed about what’s going on in the world of community resilience, climate change and resource depletion. Here are a few groups offering educational events on a consistent basis: