What is permaculture?
Permaculture is a holistic framework for designing human settlements. It is modeled on the functioning of natural ecosystems, with a view to providing for all human needs through cooperative relationships in healthy ecosystems. It includes restoring damage to the land caused by human activity.
Permaculture is based on the three ethics of:
It recognises limits to consumption and reproduction, and emphasises self-responsibility and collaboration rather than competition.
Permaculture originated with the work of Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, in the early ‘70s and soon expanded to become a worldwide movement of people embracing the ethics, and design principles to inform their lives and day-to-day decisions.
After more than 40 years, hundreds of thousands of people have trained to become permaculture designers, thanks to the internationally recognised course curriculum of the Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC) and thousands of projects have seen the light in hundreds of countries on every continent of the Earth.
The Scope of Permaculture
Permaculture design is based on systems thinking, observation of natural patterns, landscape geography, ethnobotany, appropriate technology, lateral thinking, modern science, and cooperative human relations. It can be applied as a design tool for virtually anything: from rural properties to urban environments, and social organisations. It has been implemented successfully in a majority of countries around the world.
In his diagram of the permaculture flower, Holmgren defines seven domains that need to be considered for a sustainable society. To be truly sustainable, every design considers all domains together. This notion is something that contemporary society is only just starting to grasp. Permaculture recognises this by working through a holistic design framework.
How can Permaculture help refugees?
Permaculture is well-matched to meet basic needs for food, energy, water where refugees concerns are for self-determination and self-sufficiency.
Rebuilding of interconnected communities with a common land and purpose, is facilitated by teaching permaculture system design, along with strategies and techniques that require minimal inputs, energy, and waste.
Permaculture helps refugees to develop small scale and intensive production systems – home kitchen gardens for rapid food production. In settlements where labour is plentiful, and people are often from rural backgrounds, permaculture courses provide purposeful learning.
Permaculture also facilitates group decision-making, non-violent communication, and supports entrepreneurial projects and micro-financing, and also encourages integration with surrounding communities through positive exchanges.