(Image credit: Jekaterina Sahmanova)

Permaculture is a big word, and a lot of people are very unsure what it actually means. So that's where we're starting our permaculture design course -- by answering the question: what is permaculture?

What Is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a word that intimidates a lot of people. But it really shouldn't, because when it all comes down to it, permaculture is just about doing the right thing.

The phrase "permaculture" was first coined by Bill Mollison in Australia in 1978. It's a combination of the words "permanent" and "agriculture," meaning it sets itself apart from modern, more commercial forms of agriculture that are impermanent, or unsustainable. Permaculture means growing things in a way that is sustainable for the planet, and sustainable for us.

The 3 Ethics of Permaculture

There are three phases, or ethics, of permaculture. These are:

  1. Earth Care
  2. People Care
  3. Fair Share

Earth Care

The core principle of Earth Care is working in harmony with nature. This is what most people think of when they think of permaculture gardening. The key is working with what nature provides, rather than against it, and emulating how plants would grow naturally without human intervention. For example, water-loving plants should be grown in low-lying, naturally wet areas, rather than in high and dry areas that require water to be brought in from elsewhere.

People Care

This element incorporates human beings -- all of us -- into this natural ecosystem. In essence, permaculture works when it can feed and support people permanently and sustainably.

Fair Share

Permaculture doesn't just mean sustainability for some. There are enough resources on the planet for everybody, but they're not allocated equally. Fair share is all about spreading those resources around and making sure no one has to go without.

Who Can Do Permaculture?

The answer is: everybody! You don't need a whole farm. You don't even need outdoor space. Every time you prevent waste, or grow something sustainably, you're participating in permaculture, and you're doing your part for a better world.

Discover how you can bring permaculture principles and best practices to your garden by visiting the all-new Gardening Know How Learning Channel and sign up to be notified later this year for Andre the Farmer's course, "Demystifying Permaculture: Simple Ways to Create a Healthy, Thriving Garden."

Andre Baptiste
Content Contributor and Permaculture Expert

At the Permaculture Life food forest in Florida, Andre the Farmer (Baptiste) is a home food-forester, an avid gardener and a popular social media personality.

Andre guides and inspires his multitude of followers helping them create their own sustainable lives through food forest tips and techniques, healthy cooking and a wealth of environment-friendly gardening advice. He encourages gardeners to “Dig Deeper” into how our individual gardening practices can impact and influence the greater world.