GCELE Cuba: Permaculture Defined

By: Xiuhua (Faye) Wang

What Is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an innovative system of agricultural and social design principles centered on creating sustainable ways of living, which is closely integrated with localized factors: geography, ecology, climate, culture, economy and the community.

Permaculture was developed and the term was coined, from “permanent”, “agriculture” and “culture”, by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the late 1970s. Initially, the concern of permaculture was based on the reflection of agriculture and human living in attempting to explore a more sustainable agriculture system. As it develops, the insight of the permaculture become deeper and broader in which more profound considerations of social structure, such as social organization, education, energy, health, etc. are brought into the concept.

Ethical Principles of Permaculture

Care of the earth, care of people and sharing the surplus are the three foundational ethical principles of permaculture.

Earth Care – Key idea of this principle is the maintenance of earth’s land to be sustainable and biodiverse for future generations.

People Care – Human activity requires our basic needs, including food, shelter, education, health and employment, to be met. And the core of people care is understanding of the power of community. Individual changes of lives can actually lead to a change of community.

Sharing – The common acknowledgement is that we have one earth and we share it with all species and future generations. Therefore, sharing the surplus suggests that we take the needs of other people and other species into consideration, on the premise of social and ecological justice to maintain a harmonious relationship between our needs and others’ needs.

Above all, following the guidelines of these three principles, permaculture provides many possibilities to a landscape or community: a fertile, self-reliant and productive way of living which is sustainable and harmonious in the relationship of earth, humans and all other species.

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