Permaculture is about designing ecological human habitats and food
production systems. It is a land use and community building movement
which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings,
microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water
into stable, productive communities.
The focus is not on these elements
themselves, but rather on the relationships created among them by the
way we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced by
mimicking patterns found in nature.
A central theme
in permaculture is the design of ecological landscapes that produce
food. Emphasis is placed on multi-use plants, cultural practices such
as sheet mulching and trellising, and the integration of animals to
recycle nutrients and graze weeds.
permaculture entails much more than just food production.
Energy-efficient buildings, waste water treatment, recycling, and land
stewardship in general are other important components of permaculture.
More recently, permaculture has expanded its purview to include
economic and social structures that support the evolution and
development of more permanent communities, such as co-housing projects
and eco-villages. As such, permaculture design concepts are applicable
to urban as well as rural settings, and are appropriate for single
households as well as whole farms and villages.
From ATTRA's Introduction to Permaculture