[permaculture] Societal permaculture zones

Toby Hemenway hemenway at jeffnet.org
Sat Apr 17 14:48:16 EDT 2004

On 4/16/04 10:13 AM, "Scott Pittman" <pci at permaculture-inst.org> wrote:

> I must have missed the course that changed zonation categories from land
> use to "societal Permaculture" could you elaborate on this system??

You blink for a second and they go and change the definitions on you; very
ad hoc, what?

My understanding of this, though I don't know its origin, is that people
have observed that zones 1 & 2 produce items for the site's inhabitants,
whereas Mollison (Design Manual p 50) describes Zone 3 as "commercial crop
and animals for sale and barter," i.e., involving society. Also, Zone 5 is
wild and is left for larger purpose. Hence the idea was born that 3-5 are
zones where we interact with society. I don't think it's as clear cut as
this; Zone 4 needn't involve society, and you can raise rabbits or
restaurant salad greens for sale in zones 1-2. All zones attract
pollinators, conserve soil, and offer other benefits for the planet at

If there is another meaning to this system, please speak up. I've lost the
original post that Scott quotes, so I don't know who wrote it.
>Most posts to this list don't address
>Zones 3-5 (societal permaculture),

Refining and expanding definitions can lead to useful observations. But
pushed too far it can stretch the original idea to a blurred nebulosity. We
all fit somewhere on the spectrum of conservatism/liberalism toward
definitions, and the lumpers vs splitters debate is an old one. I'm a
lumper, usually. I've heard folks referring to zone 6 (really, really wild
areas) and wonder why zone 5 wasn't good enough. Then zone 7 could be for
outer space, 8 for other dimensions . . .


> At 10:11 AM 4/15/2004, you wrote:
>> Most posts to this list don't address
>> Zones 3-5 (societal permaculture),

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