Holmgren’s 12

1 – Observe and interact

Which way does the wind blow?

Frost pockets

How you use the land depends on what you observe

How people move through a system tell us useful stuff

Using intrinsic characteristics of elements, lots of uses for things (stacking functions, at least three functions for each element)

2 – Catch and store energy

Capturing and using energy when it’s available



Tools and books

Future proofing your life

3 – Obtain a yield

Organic gardening

Soil care



Productive gardens

4 – Apply self-regulation and feedback

Systems – checks and balances

Limits to growth

Living within our ecological footprint

Reducing consumption

What’s working well?

What’s not working so well?

What can I appreciate about myself and the situation?

5 – Use and value renewable resources

Think of ourselves as co-producers, rather than consumers

Creation, rather than consumption

6 – Produce no waste

Nature doesn’t waste anything


Circular economy

How do we value all the materials around us?

input/output analysis

7 – Design from patterns to details

Can’t see the wood for the trees. Big picture, localised action

8 – Integrate rather than segregate

There’s no such place as away

9 – Slow and small solutions

10 – Use and value diversity

11 – Use edges and value the marginal

12 – Creatively use and respond to change

Beneficial interaction of elements – if I plant a plum tree, what will it bring to the system, how can it connect to other elements in useful ways

Pretty’s plum, ties our social bonds

Use what’s available to me to meet my needs – use and value renewable resources SUsfash 

There’s lots of edges at the Kymin

Social Permaculture identity and meet needs, re usp what are you customers needs, how do you meet them?

Our own needs, others needs, intersections

Working with nature

HJF Ecological principles

Observe and interact – engage with nature by meeting it where it is right now so you can take full advantage of its natural qualities to support and sustain human, plant and animal life.

I’m observing and interacting with the people, but I’m also pushing for change where I see it’s needed

Colleen Stevenson in aranya

Go with the river not against it

Share the abundance

Plan for contingencies

The solution is within the problem

Get in the zone, concentrate your energies

The harvest is unlimited

Slow down and observe

Use your edge

See the order in the chaos and the chaos in the order

Learn to read the landscape

Every thing contributes

Use your energy where it can affect the most change

Discipline and practice in order to flourish

Organise around energy flows

Embrace cooperation

In the end it all turns out to be a gift Byron Hatie

Follow the praise to find your niche

Rosemary Morrow, Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture (1993)

Attitudinal Principles

Work with Nature, Not Against It

Value Edges and Marginal and Small

See Solutions Inherent in Problems

Produce No Waste

Value People and their Skills and Work

Respect for all Life

Use Public Transport and Renewable Fuels

Calculate Food Miles

Reduce Your Ecological Footprint

Design Principles

Preserve, Regenerate, and Extend all Natural and Traditional Permanent Landscapes

Water: Conserve and Increase all Sources and Supplies of Water, and Maintain and Ensure Water Purity

Energy: Catch and Store Energy by All Non-polluting and Renewable Means

Biodiversity: Preserve and Increase Biodiversity of all Types

Strategic Principles

Focus on Long-term Sustainability

Cooperate, don’t compete

Design from Patterns to Details

Start Small and Learn From Change

Make the Least Change For the Largest Result

Make a Priority of Renewable Resources and Services

Bring Food Production Back to the Cities

Toby Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden, (2000)

Core Principles for Ecological Design

Observe. Use protracted and thoughtful observation rather than prolonged and thoughtless action. Observe the site and its elements in all seasons. Design for specific sites, clients, and cultures.

Connect. Use relative location, that is, place the elements of your design in ways that create useful relationships and time-saving connections among all parts. The number of connections among elements creates a healthy, diverse ecosystem, not the number of elements.

Catch and store energy and materials. Identify, collect, and hold useful flows.

Every cycle is an opportunity for yield, every gradient (in slope, charge, temperature, and the like) can produce energy. Reinvesting resources builds capacity to capture yet more resources.

Each element performs multiple functions. Choose and place each element in a design to perform as many functions as possible. Beneficial connections between diverse components create a stable whole. Stack elements in both space and time.

Each function is supported by multiple elements. Use multiple methods to achieve important functions and to create synergies. Redundancy protects when one or more elements fail.

Make the least change for the greatest effect. Understand the system you are working with well enough to find its “leverage points” and intervene there, where the least work accomplishes the most change.

Use small-scale, intensive systems. Start at your doorstep with the smallest systems that will do the job and build on your successes.

Optimize edge. The edge—the intersection of two environments—is the most diverse place in a system and is where energy and materials accumulate or are translated. Increase or decrease edge as appropriate.

Collaborate with succession. Living systems usually advance from immaturity to maturity, and if we accept this trend and align our designs with it instead of fighting it, we save work and energy. Mature ecosystems are more diverse and productive than young ones.

Use biological and renewable resources. Renewable resources (usually living beings and their products) reproduce and build up over time, store energy, assist yield, and interact with other elements. Favour these over nonrenewable resources.

Principles Based on Attitudes

Turn problems into solutions. Constraints can inspire creative design, and most problems usually carry not just the seeds of their own solution within them but also the inspiration for simultaneously solving other problems.

Get a yield. Design for both immediate and long-term returns from your efforts: “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Set up positive feedback loops to build the system and repay your investment.

The biggest limit to abundance is creativity. The designer’s imagination and skill usually limit productivity and diversity before any physical limits are reached. Mistakes are tools for learning. Evaluate your trials. Making mistakes is a sign you’re trying to do things better. There is usually little penalty for mistakes if you learn from them.