The Permaculture Path to Sustainability

by Emma Crameri

The Permaculture Path to Sustainability illustrates the steps we can take to transition to a life with a smaller footprint on the earth.

When I was completing my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC), I wanted a simple way to plan the future of our house and garden. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all the different ideas buzzing around in my head. I needed to capture these and create a clear plan of attack.

I started by writing down all of the elements found in a typical permaculture garden and divided them into different categories. The categories are food production, fauna, practices, flora, energy, water, and waste.

I then sorted the elements out into levels. Each level reflects an increase in the level of difficulty, commitment and/or expense.

  1. Level 1 is what you may find in an average suburban backyard.
  2. Level 2 are practices and elements found in a more sustainable household. Perhaps the owners have been influenced by a book or gardening show on TV, or have been involved in a PermaBlitz. Only a few of the categories are closed loops.
  3. Level 3 are practices and elements which are found in households dedicated to resilience, self-sufficiency, and sustainability. The owners view their property as a system. These households may be completely off-the-grid.

I love to see concepts come alive as a diagram, so I created a colourful table to illustrate “The Permaculture Path to Sustainability”:

 
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Food Production
  • Vegetables beds (with annuals)
  • Fruit trees
  • No-dig garden
  • Mandala and key hole beds
  • Herb spiral
  • Seed saving
  • Bush tucker (native) plants
  • Exotic edible plants
  • Nut trees
  • Perennials
Fauna
  • Native plants
  • Bird bath
  • Nesting box
  • Messy space and logs (for lizards, etc.)
  • Bee hive
  • Chickens
  • Fodder plants
Practices
  • Mulching
  • Companion plants
  • Crop rotation
  • Crop succession
  • Greenhouse
  • Green manure
  • Shade house
Flora
  • Native plants
  • Wind break
  • Fire break
  • Trellising
Energy
  • Energy efficient bulbs and appliances
  • Insulation
  • Solar power hot water and energy
  • Wood fired oven
Water
  • Buckets
  • Gray water hose
  • Drip system
  • Water tank
  • Grey water system
  • Pond
  • Swales and rain pits
Waste
  • Reusable containers & bags
  • Recycling
  • Compost
  • Bokashi
  • Worm farm
  • Composting toilet
  • Living mulch

Where is your household on the “Permaculture Path to Sustainability”?

Are you doing well in one category and neglecting another?

I’d love some feedback on this concept.

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