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Today, in this second installment of the Ultimate Homestead Designing Guild Blog series, you and I are going to talk about Permaculture! What it is, how it can help you design your homestead for abundance, and the 12 principles of permaculture!

What is Permaculture?

Now I am going to dive into the definition of permaculture in a minute but first I have a story for you. If you know much about our little homestead here at Red Ridge Farm Homestead then you know that we live on only 6 acres of land in the foothills of the beautiful Big Horn Mts. in Wyoming. Our journey started with a few chickens and a dream. A dream to grow as much healthy nutrient dense food as we could. We have now been homesteading for more than 18 years but it wasn’t until we embraced permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and God’s connections that our little haven began to give its amazing abundance.

It started when I stumbled across a book about Solar Greenhouses. It was a book written in the 70’s and it described how one could use the sun to heat a greenhouse even through the coldest of winters. I loved this idea of using something completely unconventional to grow food. And that is when I went down Alice’s rabbit hole of permaculture and sustainable farming. I have now been working the past 10 years to completely redesign our homestead so that we can tap into God’s designs of Earth and the result has been more abundance and rewards that have gone past just putting healthy food on our plates. But to fulfillment of purpose, connections to our Lord, and rest in the assurance of family.

This path has been slow but anything that deals with the Earth is. The earth has never changed quickly and I want to tell you right now that you venture down this road be ready to be patient. Rome was not built in a day and neither will your Permaculture Homestead. Permaculture is not a fad but a culture. A way of life. In the words of Bill Mollison, a co founder of permaculture, “"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."

Permaculture was originally a word made up of the two words ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’. But now the scope is broader, and permaculture is more often defined as ‘permanent culture’.

Permaculture grew out of a sustainable agriculture movement – originally developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Australia in the 1970s – and has since grown into a global movement, inspiring people to get involved and create positive change all around the world.

Permaculture is an approach to agricultural design that focuses on whole systems thinking, as well as using or simulating patterns from nature.

Permaculture has 3 core tenants:

Care for the earth. In other words, help all life systems continue to exist and multiply. Because if we don’t have a healthy planet, humans can’t exist at all.

Care for the people. Allow people to access resources they need to survive.

Fair share. You should only take what you need, and reinvest any surplus. Any extra can go forward to helping fulfill the two other core tenants. This includes returning waste products back into the system so it can be made useful again.

Conventional agriculture tends to work against nature, instead of with it.

We tear up whatever natural ecosystem was on the land before, and turn it into a blank slate that we can plant crops or raise livestock on. But there’s another way.

By using principles of permaculture, you’re working with nature, instead of against it. That means that you can let nature do most of the work for you.

When you let nature take hold or even find connections with nature you can let go of the restrictions conventional growing can hold on you and as a result expand your homestead in ways we never thought possible. I think you will be able to see this when we discuss the 12 principles of permaculture.

What are the 12 Permaculture Principles

These 12 principles are what you are going to use to find the connection and systems to make your homestead more ethical and sustainable.

These principles were developed by David Holmgren to help us interpret the 3 tenets of permaculture.

  1. Observer and Interact- Take time to observe nature before making any decisions or changes. Often just by observing, we can get a lot of insight into how to design our farm or garden to suit what’s already there.

  2. Catch and Store Energy- In nature, resources tend to come in peak periods. We get a lot of sunlight in the summer, but much less in the winter. In some places there are rainy seasons some of the time, and droughts other parts of the time. Permaculture is big on capturing resources like rainwater or solar electricity so they can be used later as needed.

  3. Obtain a Yield- Make sure you’re being rewarded for the work that you’re putting in. After all, you probably aren’t farming just for a hobby. You want to get food, an income, or something else in return. You can’t work on an empty stomach.

  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Feedback- Hold yourself accountable, and also be open to suggestions and critiques from others. If there is something you’re doing that’s inappropriate for your situation, you want to know about it, so your systems can function well.

  5. Use and Value Renewables- Nature has an abundance of renewable resources that we can make use of. We should prioritize those, and try to reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources.

  6. Produce No Waste- If we value all of the resources that we have available and use a bit of ingenuity, we can make sure that nothing goes to waste.

  7. Design from Patterns to Details- Take a look at nature and society. You can usually observe patterns in things like how beehives are organized, the design on a snail shell, or other things to give inspiration for your designs.

  8. Integrate Don’t Segregate- Permaculture is all about having things support each other and work together, instead of having everything exist as an island unto itself. By pairing different plants, livestock, and other objects together correctly, we can take advantage of relationships they can have with each other.

  9. Use Small, Slow Solutions- Permaculture isn’t about making big changes overnight. Making gradual changes and working with slow systems makes them much easier to maintain. Plus they tend to have a more sustainable outcome. When it comes to permaculture, slow and steady wins the race.

  10. Use and Value Diversity- Where conventional farming is all about monoculture and many farmers traditionally only grow one or two crops, permaculture is big on diversity. A diverse system is much less vulnerable to threats like pests, diseases, and other problems than a homogeneous one. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket.

  11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal- Where two different things meet is usually where the most interesting stuff happens. It’s usually the most productive and diverse part of the whole system.

  12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change- Change is inevitable. By making careful observations and then stepping in at the right time, we can make a positive outcome based on changes instead of negative ones.

These principles can be used for more than growing food but can also be used to make a more ethical and sustainable way of life.

Thank you for joining me in today's post on Permaculture. In the next installment of the Ultimate Homesteading Designing Guide blog series, we are going to talk about how you use three principles in your homestead design!

Have a blessed day,


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