About the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI)

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 works to establish a global network of 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 within three years 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 would provide local employment in the following positions: teacher, project/farm manager, and administrator. These positions will also provide mentoring for paying students as advanced training for permaculture project work.

Transitional financial 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.

All courses will specialise in the appropriate technologies and systems specific to each country and region, both culturally and biologically.

The ultimate aim is a worldwide network of interdependent communities who can cooperate to vision and rebuild economic harmony that is not dependent on perpetual growth or resource depletion and which reinvests all surpluses into their people and the land. The goal is to create self-replicating demonstration sites which will not only spread permaculture education worldwide, but also share knowledge and techniques between sites for the advancing of permaculture design systems themselves.

Interested in becoming a PRI satellite ‘Master Plan’ site?

Suitably positioned, motivated and competent teams may wish to cooperate with the PRI in establishing new PRI satellite sites worldwide, benefitting from the PRI’s high readership base, support base, recognised quality teacher registry and teacher network.

The following article outlines some of the benefits of working with the PRI to collaboratively spread permaculture concepts and application:

The following resources are available to help interested teams to determine their readiness for such an undertaking:

The following MOU must be signed by the new PRI-project administrator when applying to become a PRI satellite site:

What is Permaculture

Illustration by Cecilia Macaulay

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.

Permaculture in Landscape and Society

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.

Illustration by Cecilia Macaulay

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.

8 Responses to “About Permaculture and the Permaculture Research Institute”

  1. Dr.Rakesh Trivedi

    Permaculture is the need of today.It is the time to use ecosystem for development and also make it sustainable so that future generation can also get it in a healthy form.

  2. chester loi

    Dear Dr. Rakesh Trivedi,

    We wish to refer on information with regards to some form of ideas to carry out your concept on Permaculture in our schemes. At the moment, we have to start somewhere in order to have a starting point to implement some form of recycling rainwater and surface run-off from our highrise buildings and then channel them for reuse in watering plants and general purpose. Thereby, an effort from our development to treat all natural elements (rainwater, for instance) as our contribution to protect our planet.

    We hope you will reply to our comments.

    Thank you.



    Can you help get Nepal mobilised in permaculture
    Sustainable Agriculture Development Program Nepal (SADP-Nepal) is non-profit making NGO which was formally established with combine efforts of socially devoted people especially caring environment by flourishing agriculture in a systematized way. With the holistic view of serving people and helping to promote organic farming SADP-Nepal is registered under the local administration law of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and affiliated with Social Welfare Council. This organization is emerging to promote Organic farming & Permaculture principles improving quality of life of local farmers. Its entire effort remains for the pioneering of organic farming, which is essential to keep ecologically and environmentally balance in the nature.
    To feed an expanding world population without further clearance of forest, we need to use technology, which maximizes yield and minimizes costs letting know the fine arrangements and design processing. Meanwhile there is an important issue in terms of chemical agricultural sustainability, which concerns the decline of mineral contents in food have shown a mineral decline of up to 20% raising concern about the impact on population health over time.
    Nepal is an agro-based country where most of the population depends on agriculture. Due to various reasons and problems prevailed in the country the agriculture sector also has been seriously affected. Currently, it is undergoing with two major problems. In another aspect organic farming & permaculture creeping hoping to meet the demand of time and people.
    contact ajaynarang@organiccircle.com

  4. Dr.Rakesh Trivedi

    Sorry I am late in replying.One of my concepts have been implemented in my own city.The local municipal corporation has developed a hillock where 22 000 memory trees planted by citizens of INDORE city.Green monuments cab be developed along with recycling water project and local resedents can be involved.you can see the details of project on my site under the heading green monuments.

  5. Lisa Kaveney

    Dear Dr Rakesh Trivedi

    You are an absolute inspiration, I am a Landscape Designer in Australia and just about to launch into my first Desert Landscape Design, hence the web research.
    I as a designer am passionate about soil improvement, much to many of my clients dismay, I remind them that its not green thumbs we lack but brown hands.
    I have a process of soil improvement that I insist they follow before planting.
    I would love to do a course with you or even work with you if the opportunity arose.

    Wishing you endless soil success.

    Lisa Kaveney
    Dog Trap Designer
    Landscape Design

  6. Daniel Halsey

    Hi Geoff and all at PI,AU

    Eager to see you here in Minnesota this summer.
    I’m trying to make it ti NYC for Peak Oil Conf.

    Great video intro about Greening the Desert.

    Permacuture has turned my life upside down and cleared the illusions.
    I like to be disillusioned. The shift personally is harder than everything else in Permaculture.

    Under Guy Trombley’s and Paula Westmoreland’s (Minnesota, USA) guidance I’ve have learned a lot in a short time. The shift however from an deeply engrained US consumer in the self-employed/obsorbed corporate America to an Permaculture/Peak Oil advocate is extremely difficult. It also seems to build more controversy with my family and friends than even religion. They may see it as my midilife crisis. (47 next week).Their vison of the affluent and continuous status quo is quickly challenged and they do not want to hear about Peak Oil or Soil Depletion. Its a downer. But like religion, you have to live it and show it in your life. Not just talk about it. Let action speak for you. This is the hard part. There is so much momentum to redirect and time slips away.

    My acreage is healing and I look forward to building my forest garden.

    Daniel Halsey
    Halsey Creative Services, Inc. http://www.Halsey1.com
    Southwoods Permaculture Gardens and B&B (soon to be, hopefully)
    Prior Lake, MN