top of page
What is Permaculture?
By: Mark Hoffman

Permaculture (permanent - culture) is an approach to ecological design with the aim of creating efficient, productive, and self-sustaining systems that mimic the design inherent in nature's systems.


Based on the ethics of ‘care of the earth' and ‘care of people', permaculture integrates our basic human needs for food, shelter, energy, water, and waste management with economics and social science.


In Permaculture design, there is no need for synthetic chemical or fertilizer inputs because the balanced ecosystem eliminates their need. The result is a whole-systems approach that can be applied beneficially to such diverse areas as complete yard & gardening design, small acreage sustainability, profitable farming/ranching, community economic and social development, and large or small scale eco-businesses.

See applied permaculture examples in our gardens.

See our season extending 'solar pod'.

Learn about our results with vegetable and 
flower planting in partial 

Permaculture Principles anchor

Permaculture represents a way of thinking about ecosystem design and management where all members of an ecosystem, including humans, are integrated in a manner that serves all members of the ecosystem. Permaculture could be described as:


  • The art and science of designing human beings’ place in the environment

  • A method of ecosystem design and management that serves to consciously maximize the abundance of an ecosystem by imitating nature’s designs

  • Environmental design that blends indigenous wisdom with scientific knowledge, utilizing the best of both. 


Permaculture requires close observation of nature and its interactions. By applying what is learned through such observation, it is possible to determine how best to integrate our human presence into the ecosystem and actually increase biological output while at the same time restore ecosystem health. In a permaculture-based system, there is no such thing as waste, for any ‘waste’ from one member of the ecosystem is actually food for another. In this sense, everything is a resource. Within a permaculture system, work is minimized, productivity and yields increase, and the environment is restored.


Permaculture is defined by its principles. Those principles can be enumerated as: 

  • Observation

  • Relative location

  • Diversity

  • Multiple functions for each element

  • Multiple elements to support each function

  • Biological resources

  • Energy recycling

  • Natural succession

  • Appropriate technology

  • Maximize edge

  • The Problem is the Solution


I find that the real beauty of permaculture lies in its simplicity and its focus on ‘what works’. Anyone can understand and apply the principles, be they scientifically trained or trained through direct study of nature. In a higher sense, Permaculture can be viewed as conscious manipulation of an ecosystem to produce a balanced, harmonious relationship between human needs and the needs of nature.


I am certified as a Permaculture designer and we have utilized Permaculture principles in the design and maintenance of our garden and orchard. Feel free to ask me about this fascinating topic when you come to visit. If I have time, I'll give you a tour of our yard and show you some examples of how we have implemented permaculture principles in our garden/yard. 

Most permaculture designs seen online are of integrated gardening systems, and that is largely what is shown on our permaculture examples page. Here is a permaculture design for a business based on an integrated bio-fuel production/greenhouse system.  

Greenhouse - still design_edited.jpg
Design for an integrated greenhouse and ethanol production system.
bottom of page