What is Permaculture?

(This article is a translation of the german introductory text on serlo.org)


The word Permaculture combines the two words “permanent agriculture“. It describes a sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture.

With time the philosophy evolved and now includes areas like economical systems, human habitats and many more to form a “permanent culture“.

The goal of permaculture is to make humans part of natural cycles and processes again, so we can make use of nature efficiently not by harming it, but by contributing to it.



The concept was developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 70s and contains three core tenets and twelve design principles.

Permaculture is a fluid and loose term. It includes a wide variety of techniques, design tools and lifestyles that share the same ideals.

Many of the ideas come from observing nature. Natural ecosystems, like forests, do not need fertiliser and produce no waste. All parts of the system work together closely and fulfill important roles. Observations like that can often by applied to agricultural systems.



(to be written)



“I’m certain I don’t know what permaculture is. That’s what I like about it – it’s not dogmatic. […]”
– Bill Mollison

“[Permaculture is about] saving the planet and living to be a hundred, while throwing very impressive dinner parties and organising other creatures to do most of the work.”
– Linda Woodrow

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”
– Bill Mollison