Permaculture Ethics Background

“Permaculture really starts with an ethic, EarthCare, care of the whole mollisonsystems of Earth and its species, so we actually devise model system where much of the design is drawn from Nature, the end result that we aim for is to produce a system that is ecologically sound and economically profitable, it can get as sophisticated or as simple as you would like.”

 Bill Mollison from the opening statement in the film series Global Gardner

The permaculture ethics energize our movement forward within a regenerative culture. They are always present in our mode of operation and our overarching design work.  Without caring for the people, projects fail, without refuting to do something for a client undermines our super client; the earth.  And care for the people and care for the earth are intertwined into the need for sharing our surplus and originally limiting our consumption.

Permaculture Ethics graphic

Permaculture Ethics: Earth Care

Caring for the earth is rather simple once the lens of Permaculture has been adjusted for total system abundance rather that a simple extraction model.  We hope to build natural capital for the services that happen when forests are built, top soils are given depth, and water enters the earths belly.  Thus we must take practices such as the following to embody Earth Care:

  • Grow food beyond organically with an emphasis on staples coming from tree crops.
  • Buy locally, shop at a farmers market or local coop, invest your money in those farmers who are doing it right.
  • Harvest rainwater in earthworks, tanks, and cisterns.  Slow it, spread it, and let it sinkswale section with trees in, cleansing it, recharging aquifers, and hopefully giving us once more our God given right to drink spring water.
  • Build soil through composting, with worms to cycle energy, animals on rotation, swales and keyline picking up overland flow, and microbes being spread through compost tea.  Become cyclers of carbon!!!! Create systems that prevent burning- i.e.
  • Plant forests of food, promote native plants, utilize invasive species to our advantage, promote wildlife through habitat creation including nest boxes.bird house with mound
  • Grow food with context and climate appropriate techniques that leads to food that is medicine itself while promoting medicinal plants as our tonics and inputs for thriving health.
  • Build houses that compost naturally, those made of appropriate materials for the climate, with the balance of thermal mass and insulation, passively orientated, and promote optimal indoor air quality.
  • Harness the energy from the sun, from whipping winds, from the falling of water.  Use modern day sunlight for cooking and heating in systems that are designed for optimal efficiency and multi-functions.


coppice graphic

Permaculture Ethics: People Care

We hope to maximize quality of life for everyone involved People Care:

  • Care of the people requires a focus on meeting peoples basic needs immediately- nutritious food, clean water, community that cares, reliable energy, and housing that is neither too hot or too cold or toxic.
  • Provide people with an education, and not just regular schooling but Permaculture education through community outreach.  Start an after school program, pay attention to the children of your local community and gain trust to reach the parents.
  • Give people knowledge of sustainable culture, employ people in work that is fair and equitable and provides a safe and clean environment.
  • Eliminate deserts of culture and food, promote abundance through community connection and pooling of resources.
  • Use community centers like schools and places of worship as a way to share costs of access to land.
  • Promote the arts and the culture of celebration, bring joy to life through living from aflower-of-life-297x300 place of love, equality, and oneness.
  • Design social space in all gardens so that these sanctuaries of life promote peace and serenity within for all of its passer-throughs.
  • Honor the elders and promote the passing of stories and traditional knowledge.

Permaculture Ethics: Fair Share

Fair Share:

  • Redistribute your wealth by giving away excess produce, excess electricity, excess energy in the form of human labor.  Create community through action days. Enact the energy cycling principle and community will build.  
  • Limit our consumption, direct consumption towards to those products which help reinforce a regenerative culture.
  • Create investment opportunities for Philanthropists to direct excess money into projects that promote bio-diversity.
  • Instead of hoarding profits or excess redistribute to create right livelihoods.  Spur the arts and job creation.

Fortunately a farm certification process known as Permaganic Authenticated is helping to create market responsibility and an educational outlet for the growing need to integrate these ethics into our lives.  It is our responsibility to continue to create conditions conducive for these ethics and the abundance and equality that follows.

Permaganic Authenticated

Bill Mollison reportedly says that these ethics are those that are found ubiquitously throughout all traditional cultures, religions, and philosophies.  This is why he choose to keep it simple for this reformative cultural base.  Ethics are being talked about more and more in the business world and the more people who understand these basics, well then the more our culture will move towards peace and prosperity.  I leave you with the five precepts of peace diagram overlaid on the UN’s message of the white dove and olive branch.

5 Precepts of Peace

Written by Doug Crouch

Header art by Sien Verpoest

sien art intro


  1. Mollison’s book also mentions limiting population as an ethic. Maybe people did not like the way he worded it, but overpopulation should be mentioned, too. It’s excellent that you mention the the ethic “limiting consumption” because most teachers I know skip that part; it’s hard for some students to hear.

    • yes the topic of population is always very touchy subject, one that should be addressed with tact. Bill is like a blackberry, a pioneer species, tough and a bit brambly. We need people like that to forge through the criticism. i am trained in ecology so have looked at population graphs many times and what goes up due to an abundant resource (like cicada’s and turkeys) then populations explode. Ripples occur through the ecosystem. So i do believe in suing Permaculture as a creative descent tool towards a transition society. It will be slow and lets move towards that rather than the cliff!

      • We have already embarked on the “culling” of the “useless eaters” with “NSAIDS” which cause liver and kidney damage; toxic substances passed off as food; vaccinations bearing substances which are highly neurotoxic; overuse of polyunsaturated oils with estrogen-like compounds which ruin health; hospital and medical “treatment” which sees an iatrogenic rate of patient death outstrip that of cancer and vascular diseases combined. And this is only the tip of the culling iceberg!

    • Even talking about over-population is like spewing obscenities at people. It seems like nobody is ready to even begin that conversation. People look at you as if you hate babies. I Love babies! However, they grow up to be consumers, all of them. And, no matter how you raise them, they often rebel. I know lots of kids that were raised in very progressive households…eating healthy foods, meditating, learning the importance of sharing….When they left home, they gorged themselves on McDonalds and junk food, got corporate jobs or joined the military, and thought their parents were ridiculous. While kids from conservative families often become much more liberal. So, people thinking that they’re bringing “Conscious” people into this over-populated world, are often mistaken.

  2. I’m always amused that those who complain about overpopulation are still here to complain about it….

  3. Iam a Zimbabwean and founder of the Mangwende Orphan Care trust. The trust’s thrust is in assisting the orphans and vulnerable children in rural Zimbabwe and Africa. We have been running a supplementary feeding programme for the past 3 years and farming using traditional methods to feed the children. We have come to the conclusion that agriculture is the backbone of our project. I need help choosing a course that is going to bring positive change in our poor rural communities. A course that can be replicated in other communities in Zimbabwe and Africa. I need help to make this project a self sustaining programme.

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