Designing using Permaculture

Permaculture, Tools

Here are my 10 key things to include when designing with Permaculture

  1. ‘Begin with the end in mind’ Steven R. Covey. Stating clearly ‘what we want’ Is the same as having a clear goal or objective. This helps all designing, designing using permaculture is no exception. 
  2. Use a framework to structure and contain the thinking process. This has the benefit of slowing us down and pacing us so that we focus on things we might otherwise skip over. There are many models including sadimet, the design web, ceap, grow, growing, dragon dreaming… (another blog – which is the right framework for you?)
  3. Use thinking tools to enhance the structure. The structure takes us through a process and at each stage in that process additional tools will help deepen the thinking to create a better design solution. For example making a model of something helps us better evaluate our ideas and visualise something
  4. Consider the ethics. Permaculture is based on three ethics: earth care, people care and fair share. Where does caring for the earth and people come into the design? With consideration could the design be changed to care more about the earth and people. And how are we sharing the outcome and limiting our resources so that we are sharing fairly not just now but for future generations.
  5. Consider the principles. There are many principles associated with permaculture. The early ones were written by its founders: Holmgren and Mollison(and Slay). These include ‘observe and interact’, ‘obtain a yield’, ‘produce no waste’. There are more (add?) and these pithy statements, when taken together help create sound ecological designs
  6. Nail that design solution! Carry on to completion. Work at it till it’s done. A small thing done everyday on a project is better than large things occasionally (unless that is what the design demands) 
  7. Evaluate the results. The process of designing isn’t usually a one-off event. How do we know if our design solution has worked or is fit for purpose? Has the solution met the aim? The framework (mentioned in number two) holds the process together but it is still easy to get distracted along the way and to create a design solution that doesn’t meet the original aim but a different one. Planning how we evaluate and regularly checking in with our aim will help us mitigate for that. Evaluating helps us check what we’ve done and create incrementally better designs as a result
  8. Reflect on the process. Everyday is a school day in our household. Everyday we learn something new. There will be new learnings when doing a design and these are worth noting because they will help subsequent designs. Which tools were particularly useful? Did the framework do what it was meant to do? 
  9. Share your designs. Even if it’s just a conversation with a friend. We have had many years of designing unecologically and are suffering the consequences of that. Your design might be addressing a situation unique to you but it will inevitably be similar to someone else’s. Learning from one another is a powerful application of the ethics (no. 4)
  10. Celebrate! Effort goes into designing so make sure you celebrate that success. Design it into the design. Appreciate the time you’ve taken to do the design and the time you take to apply it. And appreciate the better ‘world’ and life you have created as a consequence. 
Top Beds 2
Wormery getting filled
Willow Fish in Straw Bale Planters


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