Permaculture, originally 'Permanent Agriculture', is often viewed as a set of gardening techniques. Pioneered by Bill Mollison of New Zealand, it has in fact developed into a whole design philosophy, and for some people a philosophy for life. Its central theme is the creation of human systems which provide carrying capacity for human needs, but using many natural elements and drawing inspiration from natural ecosystems. Its goals and priorities coincide with what many people see as the core requirements for sustainability.
Principles of permaculture should be followed by anyone building a community garden

Permaculture Glossary


Aerating the soil is the process of exposing it to air.


Eating only the produce that grows in your region of the world.

Community Garden

A plot of land that is subdivided for the use of gardening. A plot is assigned to each community member who would like to have some land to grow plants on.

Community Shared Agriculture (CSA)

This is a system of farming in which members pay a farmer for a full share or a half share and receive delivery of produce once a week for the growing season. Members are welcome to volunteer at the CSA and take part in the process of production.

Companion Planting

It has been shown by various research that plants have increased growth and health when they live beside certain plants. To maximize plant productivity and health, plants that are known to benefit from each other are planted side by side.


A mixture of decaying organic matter, such as plants, leaves, and food scraps that is used for fertilizer.

Crop Rotation

The soil of an area that has the same plant in it year after year can become stripped of certain nutrients. To avoid this result, it is necessary to plant different species yearly. Planting species that require other nutrients or that can replenish the soil of a depleted nutrient ensures a healthy soil over the long term and is thus sustainable.


The mandala is a shape of a garden bed designed for premium access from the walkway to all contents of your bed. It is a circular bed whose edges are curved; there is a door on two sides. This allows us to get to every part of our garden without walking on the soil and impacting it.


A monocultural field has only one species growing there. Large farms are managed in this way to make planting and harvesting easier; if there is only one plant, then it can all be harvested with a large machine like a combine.

Perennial, Annual and Bi-annual

There are three types of plants--perennial, annual and bi-annual. A perennial plant is originally planted from seeds and grows every year without being replanted. An annual plant only grows the year it is planted and then dies off. If you want an annual to continue to come up, you must collect and save the seeds in the fall and replant them the next spring. A bi-annual grows the year it is planted and only one subsequent year after that before it dies off.


Permaculture is a design for sustainable living. The word comes from the words "permanent agriculture" and "permanent culture" and it describes the sustainability of the design methods. The philosophy and principles of permaculture copy life systems in nature and use energy in the most efficient way possible. Permaculture can be applied to any system, from your garden to your home, whether urban or rural.

Sheet Mulching

This is a procedure that imitates the natural patterns found in the forest. Just as the leaves and needles fall from the trees and create a cover that kills weeds and keeps the soil moist, in your garden you can start your planting beds in the same manner; newspaper and cardboard can be laid down directly on the grass and topped with manure, soil and straw. These layers kill the weeds and grass and trap the moisture in the soil. When the grass has completely broken down, the result is a new garden bed that is nutrient rich.

Spiral Bed

This is an example of permaculture copying nature. There are many spiral-shaped patterns found in nature, such as a snail’s shell. Spiral beds are usually composed of automobile tires piled up in a spiral shape, filled with soil. This shape allows you to plant different plants with different needs. Tall plants that need lots of sun can be at the top of the layer, and small plants that need lots of shade and moisture can be at the bottom.


This word is what we are aiming for when we talk about a permanent system. Sustainable agriculture, like permaculture, looks ahead and plans for an ecologically sound agricultural practice that will last as long as the world does.


Lots of plants climb when they grow. They may find their own poles up which to climb, or we could provide a pole network for them. Trellises are used for climbing plants like flowers and fruits. Clematis, roses and grape vines are all better grown with something to climb up. Remember this when you are trying to put as much as possible in a small amount of space!

Community Garden Site Design

Permaculture in Southern Ontario

Fundamentals of Permaculture Design
Venue: Orangeville, Ontario
Dates: 17 - 24 July 2005
Led by: Gregoire Lamoureux & guests
Contact: Kootenay Permaculture Institute
spiralfarm at yahoo.com

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