What is Permaculture

permaculture, principles, ethics, circular, sustainable

Permaculture was created by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the mid-1970’s as a response to the pollution and destruction of the land and its natural resources. It is a philosophy they developed from observing nature and utilizing the wisdom of natural systems. In Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison, he defines permaculture as “… a design system for creating sustainable human environments. […} The aim is to create systems that are ecologically sound and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable in the long term.”


 Permaculture Ethics

Permaculture Ethics
Care of Earth, Care of People, Fair Share

The foundation of permaculture is built on three ethics:  care of earth, care of people, and fair share.  To illustrate how the ethics are applied, we can consider the act of planting a pear tree.  Planting the tree cares for the earth by creating a niche ecosystem, exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen, shading the ground, feeding the worms and soil organisms, supplying pollen for bees, habitat for animals, and countless other benefits.  Planting the pear tree cares for people by providing fruit to eat, shade, the aesthetic beauty of the tree, and pruned wood can be used for mulch or energy.  Fair share means we think of others and only take what we need, leaving enough for other people and future generations to enjoy.  Planting near a neighbors yard or public area, allows others to access fruit and share in your bounty, generating good will.  Fair share includes maintaining the health of the tree so that it lives a long and fruitful life to supply fruit for the next homeowner or generation.


Permaculture Principles

Permaculture Principles
Permaculture Principles


There are also twelve permaculture design principles that evolved from ‘systems ecology’ and create the framework for designing permaculture systems.  Incorporating vermicomposting (worm composting) into your kitchen or garden practices principles #5, #6, and #9.

Of course this is just the beginning.  Once your eyes open to see the amazing power of permaculture, you won’t be able to imagine any other way of thinking or designing.


We look forward to seeing you at one of our classes where we will explore all aspects of Permaculture.


Edible Wild Plant classThe Resiliency Institute offers evening and weekend classes, workshops, and certification courses. Classes are taught by knowledgeable and experienced regional instructors with class sizes ranging from 6 -30 attendees. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will find a class that is right for you.

Most education courses, unless otherwise noted, are taught at the Clow Education Center on The Conservation Foundation’s McDonald Farm at 10S404 Knoch Knolls Road in Naperville, IL.




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Permaculture Principles


The word “permaculture” was coined and popularized in the mid 70′s by David Holmgren, a young Australian ecologist, and his associate / professor, Bill Mollison. It is a contraction of “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture.”

Permaculture is a design system based on observing nature for developing ecological landscapes, lifestyles and communities. “Permaculture is not a discipline in itself but rather a design approach based on connecting different disciplines, strategies, and techniques.” (Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden)




Permaculture Design Certification

Peter Bane PDC water levelThe Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course is a training program that utilizes the teachings of Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Design System. The goal is to achieve a basic working understanding in ecologically-based planning, site design and management. A PDC provides a comprehensive introduction to Permaculture principles, applications and design practices as first set out by Permaculture founder, Bill Mollison. The PDC meets a common international standard as a foundational course for Permaculture practitioners and teachers. At The Resiliency Institute, the course is taught by Peter Bane, Rhonda Baird, & Keith Johnson over 3 extended weekends for a total of 11 days and 88 hrs.


Edible Wild Plants Certification

Pat Armstrong-Suburban Prairie_TRI 2013Open your eyes to the world of foraging with our Edible Wild Plants Certificate. Each season a five to six week course is offered to teach you how to identify plants, what edible wild plants to look for, what part of the plant to harvest; how to harvest it, prepare it, and eat it. You will learn to identify over 200 species of edible wild plants from handling actual specimens and from seeing them in their natural environments.

The Edible Wild Plants Certificate courses (Taste the Trees, Graze on Greens, Feast on Flowers, & Sup on Shrubs) are taught both in a classroom and through site visits to various public and private locations to provide a comprehensive experience of the plants.  To earn your certificate, you are required to take all four courses and pass four seasonal exams (using your notes and books) to demonstrate that you can identify edible (and poisonous) wild plants successfully.  These courses will be offered each year, so if you miss one, you can take it the following year.  Certificate courses are open to everyone, whether or not you’re pursuing the certificate.

Students prepare recipes during each course using edible wild plants to demonstrate their new knowledge and to share with classmates. A full year of recipes are compiled into a recipe book and given to each certificate recipient during the annual graduation ceremony.



Water bath canned salsa
Water bath canned salsa

Reskilling is learning the skills we need to become self-sufficient and resilient as individuals and communities during a time of economic and climatic change. These skills span the spectrum of land management; food production, preservation and preparation; sustainable living; community building; water management; renewable energy; and ecological building. Classes can be viewed by category or date on our course calendar.