The Mission of the Permaculture Research Institute is to work with individuals and communities worldwide, to expand the knowledge and practice of integrated, sustainable agriculture and culture using the whole-systems approach of permaculture design. This will provide solutions for permanent abundance by training local people to become leaders of sustainable development in their communities and countries.
Permaculture integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies – imitating the no waste, closed loop systems seen in diverse natural systems. Permaculture studies and applies holistic solutions that are applicable in rural and urban contexts at any scale. It is a multidisciplinary toolbox including agriculture, water harvesting and hydrology, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture, appropriate technology, economics and community development.
The Permaculture Research Institute offers advise and information on establishing a Permaculture Educational Demonstration sites, which operate as education centres that seek to replicate themselves across their respective surrounding regions. Each demonstration site seeks to become financially self-sufficient as quickly as possible through both reducing the need for cash inputs by providing as much of their own needs, sustainably, from the land-base of the project itself, and through selling knowledge – running courses to help others follow their example. Each educational demonstration site thus works to build communities around them where locals can re-skill and transition to live resilient lives independent of the globalised, industrial system.
Each site can provide local employment for permaculture a teacher, project/farm manager, and administrator. These positions will also provide mentoring for students as advanced training for permaculture project work.
Assistance for such projects can come by way of students from wealthier countries/situations subsidising the training of local people through their course attendance and fees, whilst those students simultaneously gain benefits in cultural exchange and exposure to local, traditional skills. Local students, in turn, also learn to appreciate the instruction, as the presence of international students helps them gain confidence in the value of the course.
Courses need specialise in the appropriate technologies and systems specific to each location, both culturally and biologically.
Objectives of a PRI Master Plan Site:
- To create world wide financially and operationally self sufficient permaculture demonstration and education sites
- To teach and train Permaculture to all people that come to the Permaculture Education Demonstration Site
- To provide local employment and education
- To further sustainable solutions and practices which will be taught to locals and internationals through leading by example
- To create a worldwide network of interdependent communities
- To reinvest surplus into the landscape and into furthering education and research in Permaculture
Facilities and services provided on a Permaculture Education Demonstration site:
Permaculture Demonstration Site
Must aim to demonstrate Permaculture Systems such as Food Production, Water Management, Animal Systems, Soil Building, Food Forestry, renewable energy and Structures (Buildings) etc. if possible.
Permaculture Education Centre
PRI offers accreditation for teachers and accredited PDCs and other PRI accredited courses (eg Internships, practicals, specialist courses, certificate and diploma courses).
Permaculture (the word, coined by Bill Mollison, is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture and permanent culture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.
Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms.
The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.
As the basis of permaculture is beneficial design, it can be added to all other ethical training and skills, and has the potential of taking a place in all human endeavors. In the broad landscape, however, permaculture concentrates on already-settled areas and agricultural lands. Almost all of these need drastic rehabilitation and re-thinking. One certain result of using our skills to integrate food supply and settlement, to catch water from our roof areas, and to place nearby a zone of fuel forest which receives wastes and supplies energy, will be to free most of the area of the globe for the rehabilitation of natural systems. These need never be looked upon as “of use to people”, except in the very broad sense of global health.
The real difference between a cultivated (designed) ecosystem, and a natural system is that the great majority of species (and biomass) in the cultivated ecology is intended for the use of humans or their livestock. We are only a small part of the total primeval or natural species assembly, and only a small part of its yields are directly available to us. But in our own gardens, almost every plant is selected to provide or support some direct yield for people. Household design relates principally to the needs of people; it is thus human-centered (anthropocentric).
This is a valid aim for settlement design, but we also need a nature-centered ethic for wilderness conservation. We cannot, however, do much for nature if we do not govern our greed, and if we do not supply our needs from our existing settlements. If we can achieve this aim, we can withdraw from much of the agricultural landscape, and allow natural systems to flourish.
Recycling of nutrients and energy in nature is a function of many species. In our gardens, it is our own responsibility to return wastes (via compost or mulch) to the soil and plants. We actively create soil in our gardens, whereas in nature many other species carry out that function. Around our homes we can catch water for garden use, but we rely on natural forested landscapes to provide the condenser leaves and clouds to keep rivers running with clean water, to maintain the global atmosphere, and to lock up our gaseous pollutants. Thus, even anthropocentric people would be well-advised to pay close attention to, and to assist in, conservation of existing forests and to assist in, the conservation of all existing species and allow them a place to live.
We have abused the land and laid waste to systems we never need have disturbed had we attended to our home gardens and settlements. If we need to state a set of ethics on natural systems, then let it be thus:
- Implacable and uncompromising opposition to further disturbance of any remaining natural forests, where most species are still in balance;
- Vigorous rehabilitation of degraded and damaged natural systems to stable states;
- Establishment of plant systems for our own use on the least amount of land we can use for our existence; and
- Establishment of plant and animal refuges for rare or threatened species.
Permaculture as a design system deals primarily with the third statement above, but all people who act responsibly in fact subscribe to the first and second statements. We believe we should use all the species we need or can find to use in our own settlement designs, providing they are not locally rampant and invasive.