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.

Suburban Permaculture

People have become increasingly concerned with the resiliency of our food, water, energy and economic systems and are looking for personal and community security.  This has propelled a global permaculture movement that is permeating the United States and has made its way to the Midwest.  Permaculture has traditionally been used to design systems for large land areas, but recently people have discovered how the principles can be applied to any piece of land or living situation.

The suburbs have been maligned for being wasteful with resources, and they are very wasteful, but since we cannot undo the suburbs, we have to figure out how to reduce their resource consumption.  Suburban permaculture is the answer!  We can apply permaculture ethics, principles, and design concepts to the suburban landscape to transform them into productive self-sustaining communities rich in social capital, and which are economically and environmentally resilient.

The Resiliency Institute is uniquely qualified to educate the suburban population on the application of permaculture, because this is where we live and work!  We can help you detox from your lawn addiction, by designing an edible forest garden with a water management feature where you can relax and harvest your delicious fruits, nuts and vegetables.  Share your harvest with friends and neighbors, invite them to help you preserve the harvest, and enjoy a harvest meal together - all great ways to foster community.  Your children will experience a new environment rich in learning opportunities and may surprise you by eating their veggies.

Visit our course calendar.

Sustainable Living

solar, rain barrel, solar oven, clothes line, passive solar

Sustainable living is about getting the most from limited resources.  It is about living abundantly while caring for the earth, caring for people, and sharing with others now and into the future.  Once you make the philosophical shift to applying these ethics to your life, you will gradually change your behavior until you are enjoying a sustainable life.  There is no ideal or end, we are always observing and learning and changing.

To begin, you can think about one thing that you do daily and put it through the lens of sustainability.  Maybe you get coffee to go every day.  A small step could be to use a reusable thermos instead of getting a disposable cup.  The next step could be choosing a Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance grown coffee bean.  Another step towards sustainability might be to walk or ride your bike to get the coffee.  This process can continue until you are satisfied that your daily coffee routine is sustainable.  What often happens is that you realize all the benefits you have gained - reduced cost, since most coffee shops offer a discount for using your own cup, better fitness now that you are using your own power to get your coffee instead of a car, and you feel good because you are helping preserve the rainforest and ensuring the coffee farmers receive a fair, living wage.

Many of our courses and activities will be about sustainable living, so you have come to the right place to learn.  Click here to visit our Course Calendar and register for your first course to begin your journey.

As we are developing programming, we welcome comments on types of courses (classrooms, hands-on demonstrations, design), site visits, collaborative partnerships, or other supportive comments.