Goal : An Open-Source Permaculture Designer Manual

This is a wiki-based collective open-source Permaculture Designer Manual, that anyone can enrich with his learning and experience of permaculture. Free for all, gardeners, designers, farmers, activists, teachers, and students as well as all curious can apply this knowledge in their own projects and community (see topics below).
We also aim to connect people and information, and facilitate exchanges about permaculture, sustainability, environmentalism, organic gardening and farming. In this wiki-based free manual, "permaculture" is considered in its largest meaning, mainly as an agricultural base for human habitats, but also including other aspects of life : construction, energy, manufacturing, economy, community organization.
Permaculture could greatly help people in today world crisis but unfortunately permaculture knowledge is mainly available through copyrighted materials (e.g. books, dvds and Permaculture Design Courses). People from third world, who would benefit the most from permaculture, has rarely access to fund raising and cannot pay by themselves. The motivation of this project is to free this knowledge and make it accessible to anyone, free for copy, in line with all opensource initiatives - notably Wikipedia and Appropedia. Several similar open source permaculture wiki already exist, e.g. permaculture.wikia.com, or are under project, and this project aim to join the collective effort. We use creative commons licence, which allows to exchange or integrate our content in other wikis, such as appropedia.org, on later stages. Compared with other initiatives, this wiki has a specific focus on addressing the chapters of the encyclopedic Bill Mollison's "Permaculture Designer Manuel".
About us -Initiators, and main contributors for now, in this wiki, we are permaculture autodidact learners (except a PDC for Lina), and engaging in permaculture projects anywhere we can, and we started a permaculture farm project in Tunisia in june 2012. From different backgrounds, i.e. garden design and computer research, we turned to studying, building and documenting permaculture projects since 2011. We may not be the life long permaculture experts that should be behind such encyclopedic entreprise. We are normal people, like you probably are, and do what we can at our level to get the world better for everyone. We hope that you will join our wiki-based permaculture manual and help give together the best for all. - (Koro & Lina, May 2012)

Topics in Focus

external image peak_oil3.jpg

I - Introduction : When Permaculture Save The World

  • Problem : End of Growth

    • Prior World Conception: Agriculture and Industry History
    • Current Situation : Ecological, Energetic and Economic Crisis (Peak Oil - Energy return on Investment )
  • Current Limitations

    • Conventional and Organic Agriculture
    • Scientific Agriculture and Natural Sciences
    • Paradigm Shift Needed from Linear to Non-linear
  • Permaculture, A Synergetic Response

    • Central Concepts
    • Origin and History
    • Principle and Strategy Sets
  • Benefits

    • Economical, Ecological and Social/Ethical
    • Comparison with industrial/conventional and organic
  • Summary

    • self-cultivation better people - Grounding a permanent world

II - Analysis : How It Works

  • Generic

    • Element Inputs and outputs
    • Flows
    • Patterns
  • Ecosystems Structures and Concepts

  • Ecosystem Configurations

    • Urbanity / Density : Urban life, Rural home
    • Climate : Desertic, Mediterranean, Temperate, Tropical
    • Local Conditions : Coast & Island, Salt
  • Ecosystem Elements

    • Element Needs (Light, Water, Nutrition),
    • Element Functions : Green manure, Dynamic Accumulator, Natural pest control, Structure, Soil Conditionner
    • Natural forces : Sun (light, heat), Rain, Wind, Fire, Earth (gravity)
    • Plants and Energy Transaction: Vegetables, Cereals, Trees, Algae
    • Animals : Poultry, Livestock, Wild life, Fish
    • Rhizosphere: Worms, Mushrooms & Fungi (Decomposers, Symbiotic and Parasitic), Bacteria

III - Design Methodologies : Decide What To Do

  • Prepare for Design

    • Overall Goal
    • Process : Collecting information, Analysis, Site Planning, Establishment, Maintenance and Monitoring, Design Evaluation
    • Tools : Field tools, Survey, Drawing
  • Design Strategies and Perspectives

    • Choice of Elements: Plants, Animals, Soils, Mushrooms & Fungi
    • Design Type : Incremental
    • Stacking in Space and Time
  • Design Main Methods

    • Use of Natural Forces : Light, Water, Wind, Ground
    • Application of Concepts or a Master Pattern : Layers, Succession, Niche, Guilds, Soil building, Flows(Water, Nutrient), Zones, Edges
    • Connecting characteristics of components by listing
    • Adopting lessons learnt from nature
    • Extending Flow Diagrams
    • Expanding on direct observations of a site
    • Selection of options or pathways based on decisions
    • Following map overlays
    • Assessing the results of random assemblies
    • Zoning of information and ethics
  • Planning Maintenance

    • Goal Assesment
    • Design Functionality
    • Monitor and Control
    • Ecosystem maintenance : Harvest, Preserve, Propagate

external image Holzer-Raised-Bed-Diagram-LRG.jpg

IV - Designs and Techniques : What Productive Systems To Build

  • Farming and Natural Production

    • Tree Crops: Edible Forest Garden
    • Herbaceous: Raised Beds, Herb Spiral
    • Fauna: Micro-livestock
    • Soil: Composting, Vermi-composting, Sheet Mulching, Instant Garden
    • Natural Forces: Shade Management, Wind, Fire, Earth, Water (Ponds and Dams, Swales, Waterways, Terraces, Earthwork)
  • Specific Contexts and Environments

    • Climates: Dry land, Humid land, Cool Climate
    • Urban Settlement: Gardens & Backyard, Vertical Gardens, Balconies & Windows
    • Rural Property
    • Schools & Campus
  • Home and Human Habitation

    • Zones Elements
    • Eco-Construction
  • Sustainable Technology

    • Generate Power: Solar Power (Light, Heat, Mechanic, Electricity), Wind turbines, Compost Heat
    • Use Power: Pumping water, Heating, Cooking,
    • Manufacturing: Food Processing, Open Source Ecology
    • Workshop technology
    • Transportation
  • Community Organization

    • Local Initiatives: Guerilla Gardening, Urban Farming, PermaBlitz, Basket Scheme, Garden Share Scheme, Transition Initiative
    • Community Rules: Common Food, Turn Taking, Decision Meeting
    • Broad Organization :
      • Direct and Inclusive Democracy, Open Government, Occupy, Indignados, Tahrir Square
      • Local Money, Alternative Finance, Fund Raising or Not
      • Non-Violent Political Action, Psychological Relience, Honest Relations
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V - Community and Case Studies

  • Case Studies

  • Organizations

  • Economics

    • Gift Economy
    • Local/Alternative Currencies
    • Permaculture Business Plan for Farms and Homes
    • Permaculture Products Distribution Systems
  • Current Community

VI - Plant Tables & Annexes


As a permaculture designer manuel, this wiki takes inspiration from existing work. See Books Page, for a full presentation of each book. Topics from following books are considered essential to cover :
  1. Natural Way of Farming : The theory and Practice of Green Philosophy, by Masanobu Fukuoka
  2. Forest Gardening : Cultivating an Edible Landscape, by Robert Hart
  3. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening, by Sepp Holzer
  4. The methods of Jean Pain: Or another kind of garden, by Ida & Jean Pain
  5. Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making, by Alan Savory
  6. Permaculture One : perennial agriculture for human settlement by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren
  7. Permaculture Two: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture by Bill Mollison
  8. Permaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill Mollison
  9. Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay
  10. Permaculture Design Course Pamphlets Series by Bill Mollison
  11. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway and John Todd
  12. Edible Forest Gardens (2 volumes), by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeie
  13. How to Make a Forest Garden, by Patrick Whitefield
  14. Permaculture in a Nutshell, by Patrick Whitefield
  15. Creating a Forest Garden: Working with nature to grow edible crop, by Martin Crawford
  16. The Basics of Permaculture Design, by Ross Mars

Contribution Guide

What you can do ?
    • Post comment or feedback
    • Expand, copy, edit or improve existing articles
    • Add your Permaculture projects, courses or website

Where to start ?
  1. Look at Topics above and select a topic
  2. Find a relevant resource for this topic (online, offline, books, dvds, videos, etc)
  3. Report on what you learnt. You can find other open sources to copy from, or write, draw and add photos.
  4. Add yourself as contributor and make your work reviewed.

How to add content ?
  1. Edit an existing page by pressing 'Edit' button at the top right of the page. To start a new article, use 'Add a new Page', in the menu on the left (you must create a free user account first)
  2. Add yourself to our list of contributors and your work to the front page, to be reviewed.
  3. See Best Practices Article for ideas about article organization and content
  4. Watch out for vandalism and bad edits

Everything starts small. Following are the steps in creation process, from scratch to a perfect article. We'll try to use this terminology in the rest of the wiki.
  1. Notes: a starting article made of few lines of notes and links : just thought about the topic
  2. First Draft: A chaotic article with many notes, copy/pastes, better links, few pictures : made a research about the topic
  3. Advanced Draft: An organized article with many notes almost paragraphs, relevant pictures and large cover of the topic
  4. To Review Draft: A structured article with long paragraphs, several sections, good pictures, very relevant links : know various aspect of the topic
  5. Reviewed Article: An instructive article with clear introduction, better structure : know all for a while about the topic
  6. Perfect Article: A clear and informative article with better form, standardized introduction and typography, and wikified links : know about the topic and wiki formatting

Few rules about copy / paste from other sources
  1. Respect copyright laws, don't copy copyrighted content, but you can include links, find other open sources on the topic or redo the work (rewrite or redraw) differently.
  2. Respect open-licences, copy and use open content, but always keep track and add the source
  3. Respect reader, make difference between what has been changed and what is only copied, and show clearly all your sources

Open content permaculture wikis and resource directories

The idea of making "open source permaculture" and "permaculture wiki" or an open resource directory is very common today. Many platform exist with different focus on permaculture and provide content for it. You can find a discussion of this topic at appropedia wiki and open-source ecology wiki. For example, in this wiki, the focus is on making an open permaculture designer manual. This wiki is also more informal, and aim to support the creative process of reporting from learnings and experience. Each wiki has a different copy/merging strategy, in this wiki we aim to import articles under the focus, and export content, when mature, to other permaculture wikis.
We list here the main open permaculture wikis or participative initiatives, similar in goals with this wiki.
  • Wikipedia wiki : Full of resources such as plant information, taxonomy, generic concepts and designs. Wikipedia is a generalistic encyclopedia, and introduction to permaculture fits as a topic for few pages, not more (see permaculture page).
  • Appropedia wiki : Full of resources about sustainable technologies: construction, food production, water harvesting and energy production. Appropedia has also about 68 articles about permaculture, in may 2012. In 2012, Appropedia partnered with Open Source Permaculture campaign that will produce an urban permaculture book to host the future "open source permaculture wiki" starting from this book. Appropedia has also an encyclopedic approach, and would best fit as an encyclopedia of main permaculture concepts and designs with in depth explanation (chapter 1 and 4 of our topics), rather than an open designer manual.
  • Open-Source Ecology wiki : A wiki for the Open-Source Ecology project that aim to make open-source blueprints for reliable, sustainable and replicable technology. Focusing on manufacturing, farming and construction machines, the full details diagrams of the first prototypes are already out, in may 2012. Project members also support and practice permaculture even though it is not their main focus.

Permaculture Focused
  • permaculture.wikia.com or ParmaWiki: Active wiki with many articles (228 pages, with 30 edits in may 2012), but most of them are copies from wikipedia. Although home and category pages provide an overview of the content, the content is of encyclopedic style, with mostly independent articles and no global coherence, similarly to wikipedia or appropedia. PermaWiki content is probably largest specific and open permaculture content available on the web.
  • en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Permaculture_Design : An open book on Permaculture Design with 15 pages of content (very active in may 2012).
  • permaground.wikispaces.com: Yes, this wiki, is still active after 1 year, even though same 2 contributors do almost all the work. More than 20 pages of content, but very few structured or reviewed. Notably, Permaculture Books, Compost Factory and Plant Species.
  • OpenSource Permaculture camaign : A not yet active, but awaited open-source book, website and wiki about urban permaculture. Guide, interviews, tips and education resources are planned. A derived wiki will be built and hosted at Appropedia.

You can find an extensive list of online and offline (books, dvds) permaculture content, open or closed for participation and copy: wikis, blogsbooks, videos, etc.

Why wikispaces ?

Wikispaces is one of the rare wiki platform that allow anyone to edit pages without creating an account, although page creation require an account. With an education focus community, wikispaces is also one the only wikis that allow to include scripts in the pages, allowing a flexibility of use and diversity of content, like any video or interactive content, that is not possible on other platforms. Wikispaces is also one of the only free hosts that does not force, like wikia, to have certain content on all pages (e.g. banners, etc). Main drawbacks of wikispaces is that it is not always very stable, does not enforce a very structured presentation (like in wikipedia, wikia or appropedia), and has relatively bad referencing and low frequentation.