Primer

Permaculture for Urban Design

Permaculture promotes food production and nurtures ecological systems in both rural and urban environments.

Permaculture—a compound of the words “permanent” and “agriculture”—is a design approach that integrates human communities and agricultural systems by mimicking complex ecological relationships. Permaculture focuses on the interrelation and placement of plants, animals, buildings, and infrastructure in the landscape, emphasizing food production while working to conserve energy and resources.

It relies on core ecological principles and pairs traditional farming with modern technology, making it broadly applicable to urban design on an individual, neighborhood, or citywide basis. For example, homeowners can build urban soils by constructing a backyard worm- composting system or create habitat by turning an entire yard into a mini-farm, complete with fruit trees, vegetables, and plants that attract beneficial insects. Neighbors or urban planners can transform abandoned lots into community gardens, urban orchards, or cooperatives that raise chickens or honeybees.

Published March 31, 2010