Integral Permaculture?

Integral Permaculture is a design practice based on the holistic & ethical science which includes all levels of experience - internal & external, individual & collective, ancient & modern - into a coherent & systemic whole, with the sole purpose of designing healthy, sustainable cultures & environments for all species.

It is essential to include all levels because we need to create healthy communities, local economies & effective organizations as much as we need to re-instate healthy ecosystems, create organic gardens & rational technologies.

Integral Permaculture fully acknowledges that we cannot ultimately succeed in re-designing any EarthCare without re-designing the PeopleCare side of the whole system.

There are far too many times good permaculture designers have found themselves saying, "Permaculture design is not just about gardens or buildings, it's a design science," only to find that:

  • there are lots of people / websites / publications / urban myths out there saying something quite different & busily propagating the 'permaculture as gardening' myth
  • most people don't know what you mean by 'design science' anyway, so the above happens a lot

So integral permaculture is about making the wonderful range & span of permaculture a lot more explicit, and actually teaching, in much more detail, how much more than a earth(-as-soil) science it is.

In an interesting way it is actually about going back to its roots - which is why we say that the mother & father of Integral Permaculture are Dana Meadows and Howard Odum. Now we are ready to understand the profound insights & wisdom they had to share, in their original form, which actually goes a lot deeper than most permaculture graduates can imagine. (With this we don't, in any way, wish to underestimate the primary importance of the restoration of vital ecosystems, nor, indeed, all the brilliant work done to date. )

What we believe it is important & urgent to do is to address the fact that things have gotten markedly worse during the last 40 years of passionate campaigning by ecologists, and of demonstrably successful land-restoration work by permaculture designers all over the world.

And it's not because we don't know how to restore vital ecosystems, but because we've failed to design holistically or in a truly integral way.

We believe this is because we have focused the brilliant permaculture design tools solely on external quadrants - solutions for the physical world.

In the meantime, the new-age movement has filled the inevitable void in the inner quadrants needs & interests - which are just as important for all of us - with lots of semi-magical & pseudo-spiritual half-truths. Most of these - in their practice - actually support the status quo in continuing on our incredibly destructive path.

Integral permaculture integrates all quadrants, internal & external, but using the same applied scientific aim & vitality, innovation & originality, guided by strong clear ethics and principles that are the mark of good permaculture design. Still 'no belief required'! Only tried & tested models are taught & questioned, even as our primal need for myth, imagination, fun & story is acknowledged & consciously included in our design tools repertoire.

To read more about integral permaculture, refer to this page of our Designers' Manual.

Click on the image for an explanation of the 'quadrants'