Fundamental Assumptions of Permaculture

If you have downloaded and read David Holmgren’s Essence of Permaculture, most of you probably skipped what he said at the beginning of that document and dived straight into the ethics and principles starting on page 6. I know, I did. Going back to the roots and rereading the document, and this time from the beginning, let me write this article. Although PDC course hammered these into our brains, it is beneficial to reread them and see how my understanding changed since my PDC 2 years ago.

We assume that a PDC student is aware of the situations below.

  1. Fossil fuels are in decline,
  2. Environmental crisis are becoming serious,
  3. Biodiversity is declining, and
  4. Population is growing uncontrollably and becoming unsustainable

To tackle these problems there are things that should be done at 3 different levels. These are:

  • Citizens
  • Industries
  • Governing Bodies


Image from here

As a single citizen, you may want to look into your consumption and how much pollution you are creating.

What do you consume, like food, technology, social media, TV, relationships, land, space, air etc. Are you selective in your consumption?

What are your pollutions created? Plastics, old phones, modems, computers, too many friends on Facebook, toxic relationships, anything you send to landfill as a pile of unrecyclable rubbish, your old mattress, your petrol car, your shopping bags, your travels, holidays, your newborn’s nappies etc. etc.

How can you offset these pollution items? Trying to offset your pollution is one strategy combined with reduce, reuse, recycle, fix it strategies. Grow trees from seed to capture carbon, increase humus in the soil, and reorganize your life.

Choose sustainable resources and services, support locals.

Demand sustainable products from big supermarkets. This action is like sowing a seed. It may sprout to a big tree, get eaten by a slug, or may wither and die. The more you sow, the greater the chances of growing something out of it.

Teach neighbours what you do, be an example.


Business vector created by macrovector –

Industries are driven by the profit and demand. If they can utilize some demand to create a supply, they will be happy.

As a citizen, if you demand local produce, organic, pesticide free or even high brix, sooner or later supermarkets will need to supply to that market segment.

Think about it, if a group of citizens continuously asking high brix produce from one of those big supermarkets, what would happen?


In “economy” a demand is created first either naturally or artificially. And then products start appearing on shelves. If we can use this to our (citizen’s) advantage, we may create a supply for the products we want. See! problem is the solution 😀

Governing Bodies

A collection of 195 national flags representing many different government types. (Credit: ACME Squares)

Cooperatives, municipalities, councils, associations, clubs, and governments are all there to serve citizens. Usually, they forget their promises, but it is the citizen’s responsibility to keep them in line and remind them of their responsibilities and promises.

Governing bodies have to promote food security and sovereignty of the public with the rules and regulations to threats. Are we really secure with our food? We are all practically gatherers now, there isn’t much of a hunter left in us. We gather our food from the farmer’s market and supermarkets. If that supply goes under crisis, we are in trouble.

Allow heirloom seeds to be sold in large scale and protect the rights of a farmer to collect seeds. In some countries, it is illegal to sell commercial quantities of heirloom seeds. It is against human rights if a farmer can not collect his own seeds from his harvest and cannot buy large quantities of heirloom seeds to grow commercially.

Allow trade relationships to grow internally, make it easy to comply with simplified rules. Rules can be complicated to read and understand, but a couple of enablers can help in the implementation. Enablers would be things like examples, run charts, small training or consultation sessions.

Support producers by letting them collaborate with consumers and adjust prices. These days, you don’t know who your farmer is, and there are usually multiple in-between companies for washing, packaging, transporting and selling. You are lucky if your farmer is local. Before the real farmers are extinct, we should support them.

Establish R&D centers to promote natural farming. Given that most of the fossil fuel is used to make pesticides and chemical fertilizers and we are in energy descent, we need alternatives AKA natural farming practices as it is done for centuries in Asia and everywhere before the industrial revolution.

Reduction in population is not practical and cannot be forced. Actually population growth is required for economic development. If a country’s population is aging, their economic growth is also shrinking. Governments take precautionary measures to support population growth like Hungary scraping income tax for mothers who have at least 4 kids just to boost their population growth.

Luckily some intelligent governments started thinking differently about the economic wealth measures like NZ Government. I hope, we will be seeing more examples like NZ government in the future.


Our job as a PDC attendee is never stop learning and even revisiting the material after we have some more experience which will open up different understandings. Happy learning.

Posted in English, Permakültür and tagged .

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