Permanent agriculture

Date last updated: 19/12/2018

Permanent agriculture

Date last updated:

The authors:

Jean-Pierre Sarthou,

Foreign equivalent(s):

Permaculture (fr)

Permanent agriculture is defined as an integrated and progressive production system inspired by natural ecosystems. It is also an ethical way of thinking and a philosophy. It is built around ‘the triple-win solutions’ which are taking care of the Earth, taking care of people and sharing resources fairly. Permaculture is usually mentioned together with vegetable cropping, gardening and kitchen gardening.

The concept of permanent agriculture was invented in 1970 in Australia by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. They were inspired by the work of the Japanese Masanobu Fukuoka. At first, permanent agriculture was thought as a resilient, stable and sustainable production system. In that respect, the goal was to produce food without damaging soils while reducing waste. To succeed, the crops are diversified and adapted to local conditions such as temperature, humidity and soil. Permanent agriculture is mainly based on the use and the promotion of biodiversity around and on the farm. Farmers also try to be as autonomous and self-sufficient as possible by implementing a low-energy system. Thus, with this kind of agriculture it is possible to be productive along with using new technologies.

Moreover, permanent agriculture is usually linked to a sustainable society because people who use it try to include a social aspect in their work. They can implement for example eco-building, renewable energies, new ways of communication and new economic principles such as circular economy. Permanent agriculture is therefore ‘energetically, ecologically and socially efficient’.

To conclude, there are many ways to practise permanent agriculture but they all include organic agriculture and agroecological concepts. Farmers who use permanent agriculture believe they go further than the ones who use organic farming, inasmuch as they include the environment more globally (they are inspired by natural ecosystems) as well as ethic and philosophic dimensions.

Crédit photo : CC BY NC SA Aria Nadii, Flickr

References to explore

Gifford D. 2009. Farms for the Future – What Is Permaculture? Small Footprint Family.

Greentumble. 2015. What is Permaculture Farming? Website, read 22nd January 2019.

Holmgren D. 2018. About Permaculture. Holmgren Permaculture Design (blog). Website, read 22nd January 2019.

Permaculture Visions. 2018. Difference Between Organic Gardening and Permaculture. Website, read 22nd January 2019.

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