Permaculture definition (was Re: design courses)
rrfreifelder at ucdavis.edu
Mon Nov 13 21:14:16 EST 1995
Mike Morris' definition of permaculture is a good one, and I appreciate
the caveat that "many people practice this without knowing we are doing
permaculture." However, I would amend this statement to "Many of us
practice this but we do not call it permaculture because "permaculture"
is a copyrighted term, and those of us who are unwilling to shell out
$750 for a certification course would be violating the law if we claimed
to be doing permaculture."
Also, "sustainable agriculture" is a very general term. It is nearly
meaningless these days, given that (as someone noted) many people who
claim to be researching sustainable agriculture do not think in terms of
whole agroecosystems, and therefore are unlikely to create anything very
sustainable. I would argue that polyculture, integration of
human/animal/agricultural/natural systems, and practices advocated by
permaculturists, are essential to a truly sustainable food/life system.
"Agroecology" originally meant something very
similar to "permaculture", when Miguel Altieri first coined the term, but
it too has been coopted by the mainstream. Again it can mean the
consideration of whole ecosystems, but I know several other students in
my "agroecology" PhD program who are studying extremely reductionist
questions in conventional high-input monocrop systems. Many of them
study rates of decomposition in rice straw.
(which I suppose is useful to confirm the durability of rice straw as a
Just my 2c,
Rachel Read Freifelder
"Two TV sets and two Cadillac cars ain't gonna help me at all."
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