Permaculture Design at Cloughjordan Ecovillage

The ecovillage has used Permaculture design to integrate green buildings, woodlands, organic agriculture, renewable energy and edible landscapes within a living community. It is an approach that assists us to apply whole systems thinking to the way we live. Over 30 residents of the ecovillage have trained up in the process and over the years have used Permaculture principles at different scales from the individual home garden, to the design and zoning of the whole estate, including the community farm and woodlands.

Our primary objective in developing the ecovillage was to build a model of sustainable community and Permaculture is a design methodology that can help us create more sustainable human settlements and provide for our needs of food, shelter, energy and community in ways that are healthy, efficient and resilient.

Back in the 1970s two Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren coined the term after the first oil shocks to describe an agricultural system using ecological principles. Their initial system of permanent agriculture has been extended to the redesign of the whole of society using ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production, housing, energy provision and sustainable communities.

“The people, their buildings and ways they organize themselves are central to permaculture. Thus the permaculture vision of permanent and sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent and sustainable culture.” David Holmgren.

Permaculture takes the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems as the basis for an ethical design system to create human environments that are ecologically sound and economically viable. This design system is based on ethics and a set of principles, which can be used by individuals, households and communities to initiate, design, and manage all efforts towards a sustainable future.

Within a Permaculture system work is minimised, yields are increased and waste becomes a resource. Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another.

As well as a set of principles that are based on patterns seen in nature, Permaculture is based on three ethical positions. These help us to think and act responsibly in relation to each other and the earth and are; earth care, which suggests good management of resources including plants, animals, land, water and air; people care, which places a focus on our responsibility for looking after everyone; and fair shares, which indicates the need for justice, equality and the redistribution of surplus.

Architects, planners, farmers, activists, economists, social scientists, as well as homeowners and gardeners can all utilise the principles of Permaculture design in their work.

The Cloughjordan Ecovillage offers the unique opportunity to learn about Permaculture embedded in a real living community. A number of Permaculture courses are held here, with sessions on natural building, local economics, forest gardening, renewable energy, ponds and aquaculture, and community design along with new areas such as eco-enterprise and resilience thinking.

Using permaculture to plan our landscape
Using permaculture to plan our landscape