Northern Michigan Permaculture envisions abundant, regional growth through permaculture design, education, and homesteads, businesses, bioregional networking, experiential learning centers for children, youth and adults. We are thrilled to be part of one of the many communities in the North West Michigan region, along with many passionate, curious and creative folks, who are actively participating in the continued emergence of a permaculture network in our Great Lake State!

Green and Yellow beans and onions w. drip, drip drips.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture, coined in the 1970s by its Australian co-founders, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, stems from the marriage of the words “permanent” and “culture”. It is a design process, based upon careful observation and systems thinking, that guides us in creating sustainable, equitable, and deeply integrated human habitats that mimic natural relationships and patterns. These patterns are meant to not only inspire human-crafted systems that are physically embedded in nature, such as agriculturally productive landscapes, but also those that guide social relationships, economic models, and governing decision-making processes. Since its origins, permaculture has cultivated an impressive international network of practitioners, students, and activists that continue to utilize its methods to establish more socially just, harmonious, and regenerative livelihoods.

As a design science, permaculture is a discipline that is rooted in a set of ethics that are inspired from the innate balance and patterns found in nature:

1.) Care of Earth

The moral imperative for stewardship of natural resources
Care and management for living soils
Honoring the intrinsic value of naturally-occurring biodiversity and all living things

2.) Care of people

Begins with care for oneself, which radiates into spheres that include families, neighbors, and communities both near and far
Enhancing self-reliance and responsibility for one’s unique situation
Understanding the pitfalls of materialism and consumerism on our well-being while relearning to value what matters most

3.) Return of surplus (Future Care)

Acknowledging the innate limitations that occur within nature as a guide for setting limits to consumption of natural resources, material goods, etc.
Allowing experiences of abundance encourage us to redistribute surplus to help those, including the Earth, beyond ourselves, our communities, and even our generation

These ethics help to guide in the application of the universal permaculture design principles that help determine site-specific strategies and methods for creating integrated and productive systems that meet our needs. While interpretations may vary from practitioner to practitioner, our regionally-focused work is largely informed by David Holmgren’s understanding of the following permaculture principles:

1.) Observe and interact
2.) Catch and store energy
3.) Obtain a yield
4.) Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
5.) Use and value renewable resources and services
6.) Produce no waste
7.) Design from patterns to details
8.) Integrate rather than segregate
9.) Use small and slow solutions
10.) Use and value diversity
11.) Use edges and value the marginal
12.) Creatively use and respond to change

And some of us also use:

13.) It depends.

These principles are not mutually exclusive, nor are they meant to be understood as a linear “user’s guide” to permaculture. In actuality the principles are continually building upon and reinforcing one another- just as the elements of a functioning ecosystem do. Together, these grounding ethics and principle direct the application of design methods and techniques that are deeply site-specific and place-based.