Permaculture – What is it?

When talking about garden design I am often asked ‘But what IS Permaculture?’ People often associate it with an alternative lifestyle, sustainability and growing veggies; it is all this and more. In this series of posts, I would like to try to shed some light on this huge topic! This first post will be a very brief outline, that will hopefully whet your appetite.


Permaculture has a wide application, as it is really a system rather than just a style of gardening. As such you may find that much of your lifestyle actually fits quite neatly into the system of Permaculture already.

I must say here that what I write is my understanding and interpretation of what I have learnt about Permaculture, as is any application of a system.


The term Permaculture was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s to explain a specific approach to the environment and the way in which humans live and interact with it. In other words, they developed a ‘systems theory’ that reflected what they observed.

David Holmgren defines it as developing ‘consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs’

For me, Permaculture embodies how we relate to our living environment in an organic and constantly flexible way. It teaches and enables us to mirror what we learn from our environment in our own context.

The focus of Permaculture is to design and establish societal systems that provide for humanity’s material and non-material needs including food, water, shelter, energy, and health in a way that is symbiotic and synergistic with the Earth’s natural ecosystems.In practice, Permaculture is :3911577_orig

  • Holistic 
  • Cares for the environment
  • Community oriented
  • Sustainable and regenerative
  • Ethical

Permaculture encompasses three ‘ethics’, which forms an ‘umbrella’ under which sit 12 principles that can guide you in building and developing your lifestyle according to what is important to you.


The three overarching ‘ethics’ encompass:

  • Care for the environment
  • Care for people
  • Sharing with all

These 12 principles follow:

  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 Resources 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 

I have only touched very briefly on the broader principles of Permaculture. In future posts I will go into greater depth, giving an outline and examples of each principle. Stay tuned for more exciting Permaculture adventures!

Until then, happy gardening,

2 thoughts on “Permaculture – What is it?

  1. Cindy says:

    Good morning Amanda, I would love to catch up with you again, unfortunately, I missed both your workshops and would have been unable to get there anyway. I attended one of your workshops at Elizabeth last year and gratefully accepted some of your cuttings, however, I have forgotten what one of them was called.Needless to say,it is growing very well. I love your take on gardening. Keep up the fantastic work.

    • Amanda Reynolds says:

      Hello Cindy, how lovely to hear from you!
      Thanks so much for your lovely comments – I do love what I do!. I’m so glad your cuttings are going well and hope you are having a lovely time in your garden.
      I run the workshops regularly now, so I hope there will be another opportunity for you to come and join us for one of them. Please let me know if there are any that interest you – you’ll find them on the website. The email address is
      All the best for a lovely gardening spring, and hope to see you in Macclesfield soon!

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