Empowered By Nature: The 12 Permaculture Principles: Part 2

Embracing nature’s cycles of evolutionary feedback allows us to optimize and harmonize our own design systems. In Part 1, we covered the first four principles: (1) Observe and interact, (2) Catch and store energy, (3) Obtain a yield, and (4) apply self-regulation and respond to feedback loops. The next four principles empower us even further to take charge of our designs, make them sustainable, and allow them to evolve continuously.

  1. Use and value renewable resources and services. It simply makes logical sense to capitalize on the renewable resources that are available, and avoid using non-renewable resources. Much like principle #2 (catch and store energy), when we use and value renewable resources and services, we are walking the path of least resistance. By rebuilding our relationship with animals, we can take advantage of the fertility they offer to our soils.
    Similarly, collaborating with people is most successful when we use and value the skills and services each person offers best, understanding that each person brings a unique gift to the table.
  2. Produce no waste. In nature, there is no such thing as waste. It’s common for people to say they are throwing things away, but in truth, there is no such thing as “away.” Away is simply on another piece of the earth. In nature, waste is nourishment for new growth. In the cycle of life, death is a necessary part of growth and evolution. In rethinking waste as a resource, we reconsider the landfill, and design materials that can be reused in some way, or composted, at the end of their life cycles.
  3. Design from patterns to details. Consider the spider web – the details of the web follow the same pattern of connected threads over a spidergeneral area. When we are designing for the garden, we want to be sure we can see the big picture and overarching patterns before we get bogged down in the details. Every element has many functions, and every function has many elements.
  4. Integrate rather than segregate. Instead of separating plants into distinct blocks, permaculture favors an interplanting system. The diversity of plants provides mutually beneficial relationships in sharing nutrients, enhancing insect and microbial diversity, and therefore building ecosystem resilience against disease outbreaks.
    Similarly, when considering social and financial systems, we are more resilient when we have a diversity of perspectives and skills, as well as multiple streams of income. Greater resiliency follows greater diversity.

In the next part, we’ll cover the final four permaculture principles.