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The Transition Towns movement is founded (in part) upon the principles of permaculture. The history of Transition Towns can be traced back to a permaculture class led by Rob Hopkins in Kinsale, Ireland.

Permaculture is a practical concept which can be applied in the city, on the farm, and in the wilderness. Its principles empower people to establish highly productive environments providing for food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs, including economic. Carefully observing natural patterns characteristic of a particular site, the permaculture designer gradually discerns optimal methods for integrating water catchment, human shelter, and energy systems with tree crops, edible and useful perennial plants, domestic and wild animals and aquaculture.

Permaculture adopts techniques and principles from ecology, appropriate technology, sustainable agriculture, and the wisdom of indigenous peoples. The ethical basis of permaculture rests upon care of the earth—maintaining a system in which all life can thrive. This includes human access to resources and provisions, but not the accumulation of wealth, power, or land beyond their needs.

Holmgren's 12 design principles

These restatements of the principles of permaculture appear in David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability [7][8]:

Observe and interact - By taking the time to engage with nature, we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

Catch and store energy - By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.

Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.

Produce no waste - By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.

Design from patterns to details - By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.

Integrate rather than segregate - By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things, and they work together to support each other.

Use small and slow solutions - Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.

Use and value diversity - Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
Use edges and value the marginal - The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.

Creatively use and respond to change - We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.


Here's a free, downloadable 16-page summary taken from David Holmgren's book, Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:

This is the Permaculture Page from the
Sonnenschein Green Initiative in Tennessee:

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service:

The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal --
Permaculture Principles:

The Permaculture Activist, US journal

SPRG -- Siskiyou Permaculture Resources Group:

Article in Sentient Times:
"Honoring the Duh-Design Principles" by Shaktari Belew

Photos from Tom Ward's Permaculture Workshop --
The Link is on our Multi-Media Page.