What is Permaculture Farming?

What is permaculture farming?  If you aren't already familiar with the basic ideas of permaculture, you might want to start with this simple introduction

Permaculture farming refers to any farming activity that abides by the 3 core tenets and 12 foundational principles of permaculture.  Permaculture farms are designed and planned according to the guidelines of permaculture design

What is permaculture farming?  This is a picture of sheep, ducks, and chickens on a permaculture farm.

Permaculture farming - By EwigLernender - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Understanding Farm Certifications

Permaculture farms are different from other types of farms in that there is no official application, review, or certification process for permaculture farmers.  There is no official seal, stamp, or symbol for permaculture farms - and there is no governing body. 

Government-regulated programs like USDA Organic, EU Organic, and other regional non-governmental programs like Certified Naturally Grown have very specific requirements for certification.  The process to do this can be prohibitively expensive for some small farming operations.  And the policies required may or may not be consistent with the principles of permaculture. 

Permaculture farms and certified organic farms are not mutually exclusive.  A certified organic farm can follow permaculture principles, or not.  And farms that follow permaculture principles can apply for organic certification, or not. 

It is likely that anyone operating a permaculture farm has completed a Permaculture Design Certification course (PDC).  But this is not a requirement and there is no guarantee. 

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” - Masanobu Fukuoka

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What Constitutes a Permaculture Farm?

The only requirement to operate a permaculture farm is to learn the core tenets and design principles of permaculture, and then operate your farm accordingly.  Here are some common features and practices that are commonly used in permaculture farming:

  • Integrated Pest Management
    Rather than relying on synthetic chemical pesticides, permaculture farms embrace a holistic approach to pest management.  Pests are controlling by encouraging naturally predators, manipulating habitats, and adjusting cultural practices.
  • No-Till
    Permaculture places great importance on the health and diversity of communities of organisms that live in the soil - worms, insects, bacteria, fungi, and more.  Tilling destroys these communities, depleting the health and fertility of the soil.
  • Dry Land Farming
    Permaculture strives to produce a surplus using as few external inputs as possible - and that includes water.  A combination of tactics including rainwater harvesting, intentional earthworks, and perennial crop selection allows many permaculture farms to obtain a yield with little or no irrigation.
  • Utilized Waste Streams
    If you tour a permaculture farm, you will likely find that there is no waste leaving the property.  Animals are kept at pasture, and their waste is used to fertilize the land.  Plants are fed to people and animals, and any additional plant matter is used to make compost, mulch soil, and fill hugelkultur beds

In addition to these few techniques, many permaculture farms employ permaculture gardening methods.  For a more detailed description of these and other methods, see our list of common permaculture concepts

What is permaculture farming? Example of a farm with rainwater retention.

Permaculture farm - By Lamiot - Own work, GFDL, Link

What is Permaculture Farming?

Hopefully this brief overview has answered your questions about permaculture farming.  If you're interested to learn more, you'll find a wealth of more detailed information across this site, including helpful resources, and a small but growing list of regional institutions all around the world. 

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