Permaculture Fundamentals

One of the flaws in our current society is a lack of grounding. We have principles of freedom and prosperity, but they are not often honored or discussed in great detail. What makes permaculture work so well is because it is deeply rooted in ethics and principles based on natural ecosystems. Everything else we create must incorporate the ethics and principles to some degree. The ethics are simple and straightforward - care for the earth, care for people, and share the surplus. There's no question as to what they stand for, whereas freedom and prosperity are murky territory.

The twelve principles of permaculture give structure to the ethics, and guidance to your permaculture design, whether it be for an ecological garden, or an intentional community. In truth, regardless of whether you're aware, all design expresses an intention. Materials that cannot be recycled are designed for the landfill, even if that wasn't the core intention of the designer. The good thing is, nature has dreamed up many of the design solutions we need to create a sustainable, just world. All human creations are part of nature itself, and can benefit from incorporating ecological principles. Begin your understanding of permaculture with an in-depth look at how ethics and principles shape every aspect of design. Get the grounding you need to really live and work sustainably.


1. Lecture 01 - Introduction

There are huge problems facing our world today, and permaculture is one path to a more sustainable and just world. Defining permaculture is tricky, because it encompasses so many elements. It is ecological agriculture and it is also permanent culture, incorporating social and political structures as well. Learn about Larry Korn's story of meeting natural farmer Masanobu Fukuoka and living on his farm to learn his methods of farming in harmony with nature. With no need for plowing, pruning, or weeding, Fukuoka increased his yields while decreasing his labor. Larry introduces the class to the history of permaculture, and discusses the reasons why we need permaculture today.

2. Lecture 02 - Introduction

Every action carries with it a set of principles and intentions, whether or not they've been chosen consciously. Principles provide a guiding framework for your designs and actions, but they won't guarantee success 100% of the time. There's a lot to consider in permaculture design - everything from water to animals to energy to plant guilds. Hear about some inspiring stories of farmers making money, chicken tractors, the best way to store your water, natural building, and cold climate farming.

3. Lecture 03 - Ethics

Sustainability is a popular term these days, but it is only the first step. If we truly want to live here on this planet for as long as we can, it is imperative that we develop a harmonious and peaceful relationship with our home planet Earth. As one of the few people who saw potential for regreening the desert and regenerating natural resources, Masanobu Fukuoka was a visionary in natural farming. Larry, having worked with Fukuoka for many years, shares some of Fukuoka's ideas and philosophies. He explains the purpose of plant guilds in permaculture, the importance of spending time observing nature, the true ease of working in harmony with nature's flow, and the inspiring movement that is growing for a more sustainable food system and a more sustainable future.

4. Lecture 04 - Principles

If you stick with conventional gardening, even using organic methods, you will be stuck doing a ton of work! The key in permaculture gardening is if you let nature do the work, you won't have to! Everything will flow in its right time. In this lesson, learn about how and why letting nature take over will ultimately help you become a better gardener. Learn about how weeds can help you cover ground and contribute to succession, and how you can grow thriving gardens even when you don't have much space.

5. Lecture 05 - Principles

Modern agriculture has entirely neglected the idea of ecology in its quest to mechanize food production, bringing forth the issues we see today of poor soil quality, topsoil loss, biodiversity loss, and more. Learning about ecology allows us to develop ways to reverse these issues, increasing soil quality, building topsoil, and encouraging biodiversity growth. Larry explains ecological solutions in permaculture, such as the role of weeds in succession, and focuses on positive, solution-oriented perspectives.

6. Lecture 06 - Ecology

Soil has been overlooked in our modern society. In fact, it's the soil that does most of the work in growing fresh, nutritious food - it creates plant nutrients, filters water, and decomposes fresh organic matter into more nutrients. When you grow food with reverence to the ecological system, you can regenerate and replenish natural resources, and amplify your harvest. Larry teaches the class about humanity's role in ecology, the key players in the soil food web and how to keep them thriving, water issues, ecological niches, and improving biodiversity.

7. Lecture 07 - Fundamentals

What do you think about the future? Is peak oil going to arrive? Is Nature going to torment us with natural disasters and human plagues? Or will we experience a planetary awakening? Learn about the role of permaculture in directing the course of humanity's future.

8. Lecture 08 - Principles

What is Permaculture? One of the really incredible features of permaculture is its adaptability to different fields, from agriculture, horticulture, architecture, and ecology to socio-economic structures such as land access strategies and legal systems. Some of the overarching aims of permaculture are to re-forest the earth, reclaim and rebuild the soil, grow food where people are, sequester carbon to balance the biosphere, create regenerative culture, and more. Permaculture design is based on ethics and ecological principles. The first six permaculture principles are introduced in this lesson.

9. Lecture 09 - Principles

The permaculture principles are based on patterns found universally in nature. If we design our systems to work in the same way nature does, then we have a much better chance of living sustainably. This lesson finishes the discussion with the last six principles of permaculture, while also touching on holistic perspectives and developing an intuitive connection with nature.