Permaculture is an agriculture-based design science built upon pillars of sustainability and interconnectivity. It can combine organic agriculture, renewable energy, ecological engineering, and a number of other sustainability practices to create a holistic, systems approach that empowers individuals and communities to be their own producers and live with minimal impact on the environment.
Permaculture can be applied in any region and under any condition. In some cases, as in Indonesia and El Salvador, permaculture movements manifest as a community response to political unrest, social and environmental crisis, and violence. In Scotland and New Zealand, permaculture serves as the basis of technological innovation and experimental living. Although there are many variations of permaculture practices, the primary ethics of permaculture remain constant: earth care, people care, and fair share.
Permaculture is a decentralized network of organizations working independently across the globe. To get a better sense of what permaculture looks like today, Food Tank highlights 19 successful projects featuring permaculture use:
1. Aranya Agricultural Alternatives – Telangana, India
Aranya Agricultural Alternatives is an environmental and developmental organization that provides natural alternatives to conventional agricultural practices in India. Aranya uses permaculture to provide guidance to individuals, community groups, and governing bodies on natural resource management, food and nutrition security, and climate change mitigation. There are a number of projects that Aranya orchestrates support small farmers, promote seed sharing and biodiversity, and provide permaculture education. Aranya also works to empower women and youth to become healthier and more self-sufficient.
2. Black Permaculture Network – Global
Black Permaculture Network (BPN) is an online network of Afro-indigenous people that share in the beliefs and practices of permaculture, agroecology, and natural living. Co-founded by Pandora Thomas in California, BPN has partnerships worldwide. Part of BPN’s mission is to encourage an ongoing intercultural dialogue that discusses caring for each other, for animals, and for the earth. To achieve this, BPN maintains a blog, and the website and social media pages serve as resources for information on culturally relevant educational opportunities and community events. BPN also provides access to educational funding through scholarship opportunities.
3. The City Repair Project – Portland, Oregon.
City Repair is an organized group of volunteer staff and citizen activists that facilitates artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking in the city of Portland. The project’s mission is to foster thriving, inclusive, and sustainable communities through the creative reclamation of public space. Using permaculture, natural building, and street painting, City Repair helps with numerous placemaking projects throughout the many neighborhoods of Portland. City Repair also hosts the annual Village Building Convergence, the organization’s flagship event that highlights placemaking and community-built projects all over the city.
4. Eco-Israel – Modi’in, Israel
Eco-Israel is a five-month permaculture and sustainable living educational program for young adults located outside of Modi’in, Israel. Students of the program live communally, spending time in the classroom and in the field to receive hands-on experience in permaculture and sustainable lifestyles. Graduates receive a permaculture design certification, and the program curriculum also includes classes in medicinal herbs, natural building, and Hebrew. Eco-Israel is part of Eve and Adam, a working ranch a site for ecological, environmental, and social education in Modi’in.
5. Findhorn Ecovillage – Moray, Scotland
The Findhorn Foundation Ecovillage Project began in the 1980s as an experiment in sustainable human settlements. Findhorn Ecovillage is a communal living space that strives for ecological, economic, cultural, and spiritual sustainability. The community uses renewable energy systems, including solar panels and wind turbines, to heat and power the zero carbon eco-homes erected on site. The Living Machine system treats sewage ecologically to purify water for ocean discharge and recycled use. The ecovillage also has an educational mission that engages with the eradication of poverty and environmental degradation.
6. Green Beat Farm – Tulum, Mexico
Green Beat Farm, an urban farming and permaculture education initiative, has a Permaculture Center with three functional parts: it is educational, offering courses, workshops, and permaculture certifications; it is productive, producing food for consumption; and it is demonstrative, offering guided visits to tourists, students, and other groups interested in permaculture. Green Beat also designs urban and home gardens based on permaculture philosophy and their operation now includes hydroponic and aquaponic systems. Additionally, the farm hosts a large volunteer program that welcomes individuals from all over the globe.
7. Habiba Organic Farm – Nuweiba, Egypt
Habiba Organic Farm (HOF) is a community-based organic farm, located on a former plot of desert, that is a collaborative effort between Bedouin natives, volunteers, and researchers from Egypt and France working to promote sustainable agriculture and the permaculture region in the Sinai region. HOF also provides after-school education programs in their Learning Center that incorporate environmental and social responsibility. It was the first Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) Independent farm in Egypt and there are numerous volunteering opportunities available through the organization.
8. Himalayan Permaculture Center – Surkhet, Nepal
The Himalayan Permaculture Center (HPC) is a grassroots NGO started by farmers to implement sustainable rural development in midwestern Nepal. They carry out three primary activities: demonstration, training and education, and resource provision. HPC developed Building Household and Community Resilience, a transition project focused on the intersection of climate change, farm productivity, and poverty alleviation in two regions of Nepal. In the wake of the 2015 earthquake, HPC also developed the Building Resilience Through Recovery program to help communities rebuild and prepare themselves for future disasters.
9. IDEP Foundation – Bali, Indonesia
The IDEP Foundation began in response to the severe economic crisis, political collapse, and violence in Indonesia in the 1990s. The NGO teaches permaculture, sustainable living, and disaster risk reduction to help vulnerable Indonesian communities become self-sufficient. IDEP seeks to “help people help themselves” through community resilience training, educational media, and community assistance and advocacy. Training programs cover permaculture, organic gardening, disaster management, emergency response, environmental education, and more. To date, more than 100,000 people across Indonesia are receiving emergency and disaster assistance, educational programming, and digital media resources from IDEP.
10. Kotare Village – Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Still under construction, Kotare Village is a self-reliant eco-village that belongs to the Koanga Institute, a non-profit organization focused on heritage food plants and regenerative living. Kotare Village focuses on interconnectivity by establishing a unique, community-centric, nature-interdependent culture defined by self-reliance, regenerative agriculture, healthy food, appropriate technology, and empowering social relationships. Final plans include dams for water storage and filtration, a cowshed and meat processing facility, large-scale crop farming, forestry for timber and fuel resources, and educational facilities for the Koanga Institute.
11. Never Ending Food – Lilongwe, Malawi
Never Ending Food is a permaculture demonstration plot started in 1997 by Stacia and Kristof Nordin, who reside in their home onsite. While doing HIV/AIDS prevention work for the Peace Corps in Malawi, the Nordins discovered permaculture as an instrument for combating malnutrition. Today, the Nordins dedicate their lives to practicing permaculture and facilitating various educational sessions and Permaculture Design Courses. Never Ending Food also produces research and educational materials that are available for free online, including the Sustainable Nutrition Manual.
12. Northey Street City Farm – Brisbane, Australia
Northey Street City Farm is a community-based urban permaculture farm located in the heart of Brisbane. Founded in 1994 on a bare plot of land near the city center, the nonprofit is now a local food source, education site, and tourist destination. Northey Street City Farm promotes and educates for sustainability, working to uphold the permaculture principles of earth care, people care, and fair share. Projects on the farm include the City Farm Nursery, a weekly organic farmers market and upcycle market, adult and childhood education, and various permaculture workshops.
13. O.U.R Ecovillage – Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia
O.U.R Ecovillage is a model demonstration sustainable village community. It began as a cooperative household in Victoria in the early 1990s that originated the O.U.R. acronym (One United Resource). O.U.R. Ecovillage sits on a multi-activity integrated land use zone that spans 25 acres of land and includes a conservation area, an organic production farm, an off-grid eco-home cluster, and TOPIA: The Sustainable Learning Community Institute. TOPIA offers courses that include Permaculture Design Courses, Tiny Home Building, Composting Toilets, and Rainwater Harvesting.
14. Permaculture Institute of El Salvador – Suchitoto, El Salvador
The Permaculture Institute of El Salvador (IPES) formed in 2002 as a grassroots farmer-to-farmer permaculture and organic farming movement to support campesinos, or peasant farmers, after the civil war. IPES offers free permaculture design courses and an apprenticeship program for campesinos. At a demonstration site in Suchitoto, volunteers and apprentices learn about permaculture, water management strategies, renewable energy, and recycling. The institute also promotes a culture of collaboration and information sharing among community members, NGOs, and local governments.
15. Permaculture Institute of North America – United States and Canada
The Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) is an association of regional organizations located across the United States and Canada that provides permaculture education, creates pathways to professional development, and facilitates networking among permaculturists. Permaculture design certification (PDC) is available through PINA, and members also have access to professional diplomas in permaculture site design, education, and site development and implementation. PINA currently has 18 regional hubs, and future plans include expansion to Mexico.
16. Permaculture Institute Thailand – Buri Ram, Thailand
The Permaculture Institute Thailand (PIT) is an education and demonstration organization that seeks to apply permaculture ethics, principles, and techniques to teach income empowerment and address rural poverty, a pervasive issue that plagues 1-in-10 rural families. Courses offered include Permaculture Design Certification, urban permaculture, drought and flood proofing, active soil building, and silviculture and agroforestry. PIT also fosters strong connections with other NGOs like WWOOF Thailand and Permaculture Institute Asia.
17. Permaculture in Ukraine – Kyiv, Ukraine
Permaculture in Ukraine is an NGO dedicated to providing residents with a healthy and sustainable living environment through permaculture education. The organization’s mission is to spread knowledge and promote the idea of permaculture in society through permaculture design certification courses, workshops, and webinars. Permaculture in Ukraine is also backing the efforts of Galicia’s Eco Products, an early-stage cooperative of producers, manufacturers, and consumers seekings to create a movement of conscious consumption and production, and to support local food systems.
18. Punta Mona Center – Talamanca, Costa Rica
Punta Mona Center is an 85-acre permaculture farm, eco-lodge, and environmental education center. They promote a permaculture lifestyle as an alternative to destructive land use practices, depletion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, loss of cultural heritage and community, and wastefulness happening in Costa Rica. The food produced by the Punta Mona organic farm includes various tropical fruits, vegetables, herbs, and medicinal plants. Punta Mona uses chinampa, a type of Mesoamerican agriculture that turns swamps into fertile agriculture areas. They also use eco-technologies, like solar power, a rain catchment system, and a slow sand filter to treat water. Educational courses include permaculture design, symbiosis, and medicinal plant workshops.
19. Third Millennium Alliance – Manabi, Ecuador
Third Millennium Alliance (TMA) is a conservation organization with a mission to protect Ecuador’s coastal Pacific Forest and empower local communities to participate in forest restoration efforts. Their approach to conservation is holistic, emphasizing five aspects: conservation, research, education, restoration, and outreach. TMA uses many agro-ecological principles in their work, including permaculture design. To date, TMA owns more than 1,400 acres of forest. TMA also conducts research on tropical ecology and Ecuadorian ornithology.