- designing a sustainable culture.
- observing how the more-than-human world works and then using that knowledge to weave humans into it.
- abstracting ancient horticultural practices to derive a set of design principles.
Permaculture began with the promise of a permanent agriculture, and later a permanent culture, but you might more easily recognize it by some of the practices most closely associated with it, like guilds or companion planting, swales, Hügelkultur, herb spirals, or food forests. Societies classified as horticultural by anthropologists have used some of the same techniques currently popular in permaculture for thousands of years, but permaculture defines itself in terms of its core tenets — care for the earth, care for people, and setting limits to population and consumption — and its twelve design principles. It offers a framework for designing a sustainable future.
The Fifth World imagines what such a future might look like. While many in the Fifth World live more like hunter-gatherers — what some permaculture practitioners might call “zone 5 permaculture” — others live in villages tending forest gardens, following the same permaculture design principles practiced by their ancestors (us), and their more ancient horticultural antecedents before them.
Permaculture is not the movement of sustainability and it is not the philosophy behind it; it is the problem-solving approach the movement and the philosophy can use to meet their goals and design a world in which human needs are met while enhancing the health of this miraculous planet that supports us.