The Basics of Permaculture

Learn all about the natural, wild garden design and lifestyle of permaculture, which works to incorporate natural surroundings into your environment.

| September/October 2016

  • In permaculture, animals are often used to remedy problems.
    Photo courtesy Jessi Bloom
  • Jessi Bloom shows off her garden in the Pacific Northwest.
    Photo courtesy Jessi Bloom
  • In a permaculture garden, plants work together, such as interplanted flowers to attract pollinators to food crops.
    Photo courtesy Jessi Bloom

Describing permaculture in a few words can be a challenge for even the savviest of experts. That’s because permaculture is less of a defined technique or standard and more of a framework used to design holistic, interwoven systems. But that doesn’t mean permaculture is overly complex. On the contrary, permaculture seeks to find the simplest, most common-sense solutions to problems, guiding us to mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature. In a sense, permaculture means putting the cycles and resources in nature to work to support human life. Permaculture makes use of natural resources and seeks to eliminate waste output, creating systems —whether a garden, a building or our personal finances—that work as elegantly as the natural world. For example, in a garden designed from a permaculture perspective, the plants might give shelter and food to chickens, who then eat the weeds and bugs. Ultimately, the garden produces food for humans, who then recycle food waste back to the plants and animals. Jessi Bloom is the co-author with Dave Boehnlein of Practical Permaculture for Home, Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth, and the owner of N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Landscape, based near Seattle, which is known as an innovator in the fields of permaculture, sustainable landscape design, construction and landscape management. She is a frequent presenter at our Mother Earth News Fairs—hands-on celebrations of sustainability held around the nation. Here, she shares some permaculture basics.

Ethics of Permaculture

Permaculture design is predicated on its three main tenets, known as “ethics.” These ethics are the primary considerations of anyone designing a permaculture system.

1. Care of the earth
2. Care of people
3. “Fair share,” or the return or surplus to earth and people

How would you briefly explain permaculture to an absolute newbie?



Permaculture is a way to design human habitats. It’s a design system that gives us tools and a framework to make decisions. In permaculture, we design a big picture, and we think about everything we need and all the systems we rely on for survival. Another way I can describe it is that permaculture is how to create your own paradise.

Is permaculture consistent from one place to another?



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Get the latest on Natural Health and Sustainable Living with Mother Earth News!

Mother Earth News

Your friends at Mother Earth Living are committed to natural health and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 has challenged us to find a more economical way to achieve this mission. We welcome you to our sister publication Mother Earth News. What you sought in the pages of Mother Earth Living can be found in Mother Earth News. For over 50 years, “The Original Guide to Living Wisely” has focused on organic gardening, herbal medicine, real food recipes, and sustainability. We look forward to going on this new journey with you and providing solutions for better health and self-sufficiency.

The impact of this crisis has no doubt affected every aspect of our daily lives. We will strive to be a useful and inspiring resource during this critical time and for years to come.

Best wishes,
Your friends at Mother Earth Living and Mother Earth News

Save Money & a Few Trees!

By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Mother Earth News for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Classifieds