Video: Digging into the 12 Permaculture Principles

Author: Kirsten Bradley
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Permaculture principles: 1-6

Need some effective thinking tools to get you started with permaculture living? The 12 permaculture principles, created by David Holmgren, are exactly that. Let’s dig in and have a look at them.

Alrighty, so before we dive into the nuts and bolts of all the everyday climate action tools that we’re going to work through with you as part of our Permaculture Living 2020 series, let’s take a pause… what the heck is Permaculture, and the permaculture principles?

Permaculture principles: 7 – 12

What exactly are these principles, and why do I need them? How can I use them?

Permaculture itself, first off, is a thinking system. How can we create permanently regenerative culture? And also, permanently regenerative agriculture? In ways that sustain our communities, without screwing the planet? The answers lie, as always, in taking our cues from natural systems and indigenous knowledge. In all kinds of ways. We all have a lot to learn.⁠

We need to become holistic thinkers when we plan and design our actions – on every scale. 

Fortunately for all of us, David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept (alongside the late and great Bill Mollison)… has created 12 permaculture principles to help everyone along the way with this mindset shift of holistic thinking and action. 

The 12 permaculture principles are simple yet powerful thinking tools that you can use when you’re designing anything at all – a garden, or a home, or your dream job – or indeed, even your accountancy practice or your community organisation. 

You can use these principles to reflect and expand on your personal goal statement, or for any specific project.

These principles ask us – what do we need to consider, when creating regenerative systems? What must we not forget? This is where the 12 permaculture principles can help. You don’t need to use all 12 principles at once.

Some will apply more strongly than others, at times, depending on your context, and what you’re designing or planning. 

To explain further, here’s a video overview of the principles, taken from our Permaculture Living online course (which is currently open for bookings) – with David Holmgren and Kirsten…

Video: The 12 Permaculture Principles (from our Permaculture Living course)

Combined with the three ethics of Earth care, People care and Fair share, the 12 permaculture principles are designed to help you think about, plan and carry out designs and actions with a view to the greater whole.

The best thing about these principles? They are flexible thinking tools that you can adapt to all situations big and small. Guidelines, if you will – that give you a broader sense of where you’re heading. A series of lights to guide the way, rather than a specific path to follow. Because all our paths will be different – depending on our projects, assets, limitations and contexts.


  1. Observe & Interact
  2. Catch & Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation & Accept Feedback
  5. Use & Value Renewable Resources & Services
  6. Produce No Waste
  7. Design From Patterns to Details
  8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate
  9. Use Small & Slow Solutions
  10. Use & Value Diversity
  11. Use Edges & Value the Marginal
  12. Creatively Use & Respond to Change.

So this week, have a think about how these principles relate, and could be integrated into, your personal goal statement.

Or into your garden, or your kitchen, or into your daily commute. This can be powerful re-programming for your every day. And out of good thinking, comes meaningful action.

Next week, we start on everyday climate actions, that you can get started with straight away. Make sure you’re on our newsletter so you get all the details.

If you’d like to read more about these permaculture principles, David Holmgren has authored a handy free e-guide called The Essence of Permaculture (now in 16 languages!) which you can check out. 

There’s also David’s book Principles and Pathways which delves into the theory of these principles, AND his most recent book RetroSuburbia (our review is here) – in which the principles are applied to practical, regenerative suburban living. All very well worth a read.

Got any questions? Comment below and we’ll do our best to answer everything 🙂

Big thanks to our filmmaker Dylan, to Brenna Quinlan for the principles drawings, and to David Holmgren and the Permaculture Principles crew.

The above video is an excerpt of our Permaculture Living online course – a 12 week, interactive, in-depth program that will take you from ‘hmm, that sounds like a good idea’ to a version of yourself who is FULL of new projects, habits and knowledge – and motivated to start making life better. Better for you, for your ecosystem, and for our planet, too.

The post Video: Digging into the 12 Permaculture Principles appeared first on Milkwood: permaculture courses, skills + stories.

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Video: Digging into the 12 Permaculture Principles
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