Core principles condensed from Toby Hemenway.*:
- Observe. Thoughtful observation of all the elements in all seasons with consideration of the specific site, client, and culture should precede any action.
- Connect. Place design elements to create useful relationships and as many beneficial connections as possible for a healthy, diverse ecosystem.
- Catch and store energy and materials.Opportunity for yield is enhanced by collecting and storing resources.
- Each element performs multiple functions. Stack elements in space and time to add function and beneficial connections.
- Each function is supported by multiple elements. Apply multiple methods to important functions.
- Make the least change for the greatest effect. Understand where your efforts will achieve maximum benefits—“leverage.”
- Use small-scale intensive systems. Start with the smallest system that will do the job. Repeating a small system that works, with variations, is called “chunking.”
- Optimize edge. Diversity at the intersection of two environments encourages energy and materials to accumulate.
- Collaborate with succession. Accept the trend for systems to grow from immaturity to maturity and work with it. Mature ecosystems are most productive.
- Use biological and renewable resources. Renewable resources reproduce and grow. Favour them over non-renewable resources.
- Turn problems into solutions. Look for the seeds of solutions in the problems themselves and use the opportunity for innovation.
- Get a yield. Design for immediate and long-term returns.
- Be creative. The limits of diversity and productivity are often found in the designer’s limited imagination and skill.
- Mistakes are tools for learning. There are few penalties in mistakes you learn from.
*Toby Hemenway, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, pp. 6-7.