Plan Your Permaculture Plot

Before you pick up a trowel, take time to map out your resources, needs, and desires to help you successfully establish a permaculture property.

Large or small, all permaculture projects benefit from forethought.
Photo by Adobe Stock/DesertSands

Implementing permaculture practices can be overwhelming, but not because of a lack of information, tools, techniques, skills, or prescriptions. Instead, lack of a clearly defined process to design, develop, and manage a permaculture property is what hinders many people. Thankfully, you can significantly reduce the number of options to consider when building a permaculture property if you take time to make a Venn diagram that outlines what you have, what you want, and what is right.

The good news is that permaculture already includes most of the tools and ideas that can help us with this process of elimination. These tools and ideas just need to be organized and applied in a different way than they have before. In particular, the quintessential needs and yields analysis of permaculture design — which involves selecting an element in the design and listing what it requires and what it produces — is something we rarely complete for the central element of our systems: ourselves. As you’ll see, when applying this method of design to yourself, it will help you solve for the first two sets in your Venn diagram: what you have and what you want. Guidance with the final set (what is right) can be found in none other than the three permaculture ethics: earth care, people care, and future care. By expanding upon these existing concepts within permaculture, you’ll complete your own Venn diagram and overcome the struggle of not knowing what to do.

What Do You Have?

Before deciding what to do for even small projects, let alone designing and developing land, it’s helpful to have a comprehensive inventory of the resources available to you.

The two types of resources that come to mind first are usually financial and material. But there are actually many more resources beyond the money in your bank account or the tools and supplies in your garage. Before knowing how to proceed, you’ll need to create a holistic inventory of all the resources you own or have access to that can help or hinder you.

The Eight Forms of Capital, developed by permaculturalists Ethan Roland and Gregory Landua, is a holistic framework for expanding our definition of resources. The framework includes living, social, spiritual, experiential, intellectual, and cultural resources, in addition to the more common financial and material resources. The link above describes them and, for each one, shows common currencies, usefulness in the ultimate goal of increasing well-being, and common existing inventories.

A personal resource inventory involves listing all the things within these eight categories that could be used or leveraged to accomplish your goals, and also any negative resources or debts within those resources. For example, you could owe a bank money (a debt to your financial resources), or owe a friend a favor (a debt to your social resources).



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