The term “permaculture” was originally coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in their book Permaculture One (1978) as a contraction of “permanent” and “agriculture.” Its etymology reflects the early concept of permaculture as primarily focused on agriculture. By the early 1980s, the definition had expanded in scope to broadly encompass the ways in which people can live on the land and in communities. Now, there are as many definitions of permaculture as there are permaculture designers—it’s like a language, in the sense that it’s constantly evolving as people participate in and contribute to it.

PERMACULTURE: A way for humans to consciously design systems that support ourselves—food production, energy, buildings, transportation, technology, even human relationships and financial systems—while acknowledging our roles as equal, co-creative members of natural ecosystems with the ability to regenerate our environment while we’re providing for our own needs.

Permaculture focuses on mimicking the patterns and relationships found in nature. As we align our human society to match the way a whole, integrated ecosystem operations, we can’t help but become healthy individuals within richly diverse communities. After all, the natural world around us is embedded with knowledge from millennia of trial and error. Unworkable and inefficient designs have largely been culled out, leaving out those that function as efficient, effective long-term systems.

Excerpt from The PERMACULTURE PROMISE by Jono Neiger, page 11