Permaculture Design is the Art and Science of Ecological Design, which uses the application of Natural Patterns and Ethical Intentions to create long-lasting, beautiful, and regenerative systems that provide humanity’s essential needs, starting with water, food and shelter

Originally a derivation of Permanent agriculture, Permaculture has evolved to deal with all aspects related to human culture and land stewardship.  The goal is to design systems so that they are the most productive with the least amount of inputs and maintenance.  Through thoughtful observation, a design is arrived at that most fits the needs of all involved.  Mother Nature is the Model: Design for Regeneration.

Permaculture differs from other design methodologies in that Ethics are at the core of the design process.  Through the Ethical Intentions of Caring for the Earth, Caring for People, and sharing surplus resources necessary for survival, we can develop resilient communities well equipped to deal with climactic and economic fluctuations.

These Ethics translate into the Triple Bottom Line for Sustainability.  In order for any system to truly sustainable, it must be:

- Environmentally Responsible

- Socially Just

  1. -Economically Viable

“The Field Lies Open to the Intellect”

copyright 2011 Global Permaculture


Then we use the Filters of Permaculture to observe the Land and the patterns of Nature.  These filters are called the Principles by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and others.

Principles of Permaculture

    Form follows Function

    Stability lies in Diversity 

    Work with Nature 

    Make the Least Change for the Greatest Good 

    The Problem is the Solution 

    The Yield of a System is Unlimited

    Everything is Connected

    Location is Relative

    Cycles create Opportunities


Permaculture also recognizes Patterns in Nature, and applies these to designs.  For example spirals, scatters, and branching patterns are useful tools when planning systems that work with Nature.

Design Process

A design begins by taking an assessment of the Needs and Resources of a site, client, or community.  Working from most important need on down; we start with water, food and shelter.  Other needs such as community and recreation are also considered.  We can create an action plan for providing these needs through those resources already available, or by creating new sources.  By mimicking Nature, we design systems that are flexible and diverse.

OBREDIM design methodology (from Wikipedia)

OBREDIM is an acronym for observation, boundaries, resources, evaluation, design, implementation and maintenance.

•Observation allows you first to see how the site functions within itself, to gain an understanding of its initial relationships. Some recommend a year-long observation of a site before anything is planted. During this period all factors, such as lay of the land, natural flora and so forth, can be brought into the design. A year allows the site to be observed through all seasons, although it must be realized that, particularly in temperate climates, there can be substantial variations between years.

•Boundaries refer to physical ones as well as to those neighbors might place, for example.

•Resources include the people involved, funding, as well as what can be grown or produced in the future.

•Evaluation of the first three will then allow one to prepare for the next three. This is a careful phase of taking stock of what is at hand to work with.

•Design is a creative and intensive process, and must stretch the ability to see possible future synergetic relationships.

•Implementation is literally the ground-breaking part of the process when digging and shaping of the site occurs.

•Maintenance is then required to keep the site at a healthy optimum, making minor adjustments as necessary. Good design will preclude the need for any major adjustment.

The first step in a  Permaculture Design is to look at the Needs of the Site and the Client, and the Resources they may have on site to provide for these needs.  With a cross check we can solve many needs this way, just by re-arranging elements and placing them relative to each other.

We then observe the system we will be designing and, coming from the Ethics and applying the Principles, we solve the need that is presented with the materials at hand, or the next closest location.

Waste and pollution in a system is an under utilized resource.  Waste for one is food for another.  Nutrients are cycled so that they can used to their next highest energy level before they leave the system.

Permaculture offers a unique perspective on current challenges faced by humanity like global warming and food and water shortages.   The problem is the solution: we can effectively deal with many of the calamities caused by poor planning and consumptive development by turning negative situations into positive opportunities.


The triple bottom line for Sustainable Development