Permaculture can be a huge topic to delve into. I'm prone to say that permaculture is to organic gardening as urban planning is to architecture. The Permaculture Research Institute, grappling with similar issues of definition, suggests that integrated design may be the better term.
I'm equally quick to suggest that permaculture is a way of thinking in the very long term, so that ultimately we can put our lazy selves -- those parts that want less work, more gain, and more leisure over time -- in service of our best selves.
What is the work of those 'best' selves? Permaculture puts it very simply in three priciples: care for people, care for the earth, and sharing the surplus. Those guiding principles provide a vision through which we can evaluate the value of nearly any design element. That said, they are not in themselves tools to accomplish our goals.
It occurs to me that I talk a lot about tactics here, but very little about guiding principles except in passing. That's interesting, because I think about permaculture design principles quite a bit, and have used them as a guiding force in many of my own classes and talks. So - in the next few weeks, expect to hear more about not only what small-scale permaculture looks like, but why.
What does care for the earth look like, for you? What about care for people? How about sharing the surplus?