A brief introdiction to permaculture

Small and Slow Solutions

Permaculture in school and community.

Drawn from 6 years of permaculture project work in Wales and Uganda, S39 produced this manual as a supporting text for our permaculture learners.

100 pages in PDF format, free,
donations welcome

Small and Slow Solutions – free download

I truly believe this is the best introduction to Permaculture out there. Read it and learn, no matter how experienced you are. This is a work of genius with lots of links to further learning.

Jon Kean, Permaculture Association Britain

small and slow thumnail

Permaculture designer's manual

This was the first book to fully express permaculture, a term coined by Homgren and Mollison in their seminal publication, Permaculture One. Bill’s manual is based on the experience of the application permaculture as a design methodology over the pioneering first era.

This book is essentially a designers manual for earth repair and sets how we can fix most the prolems we have imposed on ourselves and find a path to live in harmony with our natural world, and consequently, each other. The manual might turn out to be one of the most important books written if we achieve the above.

The amazing ideas and illustrations within are rooted in observation of the natural world. I would suggest ideas that would have been self apparent to our ancesters, and indeed are to many contemporary first nation people, but these are principles we need to work with to heal our world..

Permaculture design addresses how we might approach meeting our personal needs whilst working with nature and ultimately each other in a truly hormonious fashion.

Permaculture asserts that the natural state for the world is one that is teaming with life, one that produces a surplus, a surplus that feeds every element in the system, whilst capturing and returning all of its component elements back the system in an endless cycle. This is the only way we can have permanent culture, and the answers are right in front of us.

Throughout the book Mollison demonstrates how, through observation and copying of what nature can teach us, we can create systems ourselves which have the resilience and dynamism that we might see in the most evolved example in the natural world.

What is clear is that we can’t resolve the challenges of the day with the same thinking that bought us here, embracing nature as our teacher creates whole new realms of possibility.

As a book it can be hard to get hold of, it is a huge tome and a tough read and maybe not the starting point for every one in permaculture. But it is there, and it is the foundation stone permaculture sits on. Many people and sources deserve credit for permaculture also but this was its first masterwork, and spawned a global movement. it is on this the Permaculture Design Course syllabus is based.

This an invitation to begin your permaculture jounrey.

I have included a image from this manual  in our activity below, a taster.

I invite you to explore the image whilst listening to the audio

A link to Small and Slow Solutions, our more humble but more accessible handbook for new permaculture students.

If you have time want to go deeper, there  is 50 minute video In Grave Danger of Falling Food giving insight into permaculture’s origins.

TLDR/ few key points

  • Permaculture invites you to design from pattern to detail, take a few steps back and consider from the perpective of the bigger picture and the longer term
  • Permaculture looks at functions, rather than things, mobility not cars, trade rather than money
  • Use locally available resources, spot opportunities to build alliances, share, eliminate waste by creating cyclical systems
  • Create mutually beneficial relationships. Can we design connectivity into every function?
  • You do not have to own a piece of land to be able to ‘garden it’, opportunites are everywhere, including walls windows and roofs.
  • Waste is only an under-utilised resource, this applies to people too
  • Any design will never be perfect, so accept feedback and be prepared to make modifications
  • Realising you are not aiming for perfection means you can begin immediately
  • Step one is observation
  • Take small steps and allow things to evolve.
  1. How you apply permaculture design to your individual situation?
  2. What are the key functions CREDU perform?
  3. How might permaculture inform how CREDU operate

See you on July 21st!

Though the problems of the world are increasing complex, the solutions remain embrassingly simple
Bill Mollison
Permaculture co-founder


Audio – something to think about in advance of the training session
Click to expand image and explore

I hope we can make the most from our session together, and in advance i am going to ask you to do a little but of reflection and to perhaps make some notes.

Through permaculture we are allowing ourselves to learn from nature, and these lessons can be applied in an abstract way into almost any area of our lives. So based on the first ethic.. ‘Fairshare’ or how we meet our needs, setting limits and returning the surplus as an investment.

  • Think about your own needs, those essential inputs without which you could not survive. Think about where they come from and how you go about accessing them.
  • Then let us think about outputs,  What outputst you give and where does that go?
  • We will be spending some time thinking about how we might stategically use our surpluses to extend our own ecosystem, in the same way the tree in the example does.
  • In the Mollison quote above what do you think he means about the problems being complex the the solutions simple, do you agree?

In Grave Danger of Falling Food

If you want to go deeper on this, then this is agreat place start. To hear the worlds of Mollison, across the years is filled with prescience and the vision behind permaculture becomes clear.

From 1989, apologies for poor sound, this remarkable video is an excellent introduction to permaculture. Bill Mollison, the movement’s co-founder, takes the viewer through the history and developments of the movement and opens up on its origins and how it came about.

With startlingly laconic humor and insight he deconstructs the modern agribusiness and the “modern plague” : manicured ornamental lawns. In this video he offers an antidote, which is an antidote to both our currently unsustainable practices and our unsustainable culture.

Both of these have to change and adapt. Permanently.

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