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Permaculture Principles Toby Hemenway

Permaculture designer and teacher Larry Santoyo calls the principles “indicators of sustainability.” Any design, whether it is of a garden, a house, or a nonprofit corporation, that uses these principles will be more efficient, effective, and ecologically balanced than one that violates them.

The aim of permaculture is to design ecologically sound, economically prosperous human communities. It is guided by a set of ethics: caring for Earth, caring for people, and reinvesting the surplus that this care will create. From these ethics stem a set of design guidelines or principles, described in many places and in slightly varying forms. The list below is the version I use, compiled with the aid of many permaculture teachers and flowing from the work of Mollison, Holmgren, and their coauthors.

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banana tree Laura Romano

…after a while, he said, “You know, we should learn more from nature; nature is full of teachings. Every plant, for example, has a message for us, and one of the most important for human life is that of the banana tree. Do you know what the teaching of the banana tree is?”
 I talked about the strength of the big, flexible leaves that allow themselves to be blown about in the wind, of the solidity of its trunk, full of water, and of the sweet generosity of the fruit.
 ”Yes, that too” he said. “But above all the banana is a plant you can cut at the roots a hundred times and it will always grow back – in sunlight or in shade, in whatever soil, until it has produced its fruit at least once. Only after that, if you cut it again, then it will not grow back and will die.”
Laura Romano Sumarah – Spiritual Wisdom from Java


Weeds Masanobu Fukuoka

There is no good or bad among the life-forms on earth. Each has its role, is nec­es­sary, and has equal value.

It seems log­i­cal for peo­ple to choose some­thing spe­cial from na­ture and use it for the ben­e­fit of hu­man be­ings, but when they do this, they make a big mis­take. Tak­ing one el­e­ment from na­ture, in the name of cre­at­ing some­thing valu­able eco­nom­i­cally (cash crops, for ex­am­ple), gives that el­e­ment spe­cial value. It also im­plies that other el­e­ments have a lesser value. When hu­man be­ings plant only “use­ful” trees with high cash value in the desert, and cut down the un­der­growth re­fer­ring to those plants as “weeds,” many plant species are lost. Of­ten they are the very plants that are en­rich­ing and hold­ing the soil to­gether.
 There is no good or bad among the life-forms on earth. Each has its role, is nec­es­sary, and has equal value. This idea may seem sim­plis­tic and un­sci­en­tific, but it is the ba­sis for my plan to re­gen­er­ate land­scapes all over the world.
Masanobu Fukuoka, Sawing Seeds in the Desert

Platone frammento di Timeo

The motion induced by physical exercise is the best of those that purify and restore the body.

There is in fact one way to preserve oneself, and that is not to exercise the soul without exercising the body, nor the body without the soul, so that each may be balanced by the other and so be sound. The mathematician, then, or the ardent devotee of any other intellectual discipline, should also provide exercise for his body by taking part in gymnastics, while one who takes care to develop his body should in his turn practice the exercises of the soul by applying himself to the arts and to every pursuit of wisdom, if he is to truly deserve the joint epithets of “fine and good.”
Plato from Timaeus