Looking at the word permaculture, you can see some big clues as to the basic intentions behind the idea.
There is a disturbing history of agriculture linked to the demise of many cultures, first described by Joseph Russell Smith in 1929. The histories follow a similar pattern of forest – field – plough – desert. Think of the devastation of the Dust Bowl or Dirty Thirties (1930 – 1936) which occured across much of the prairies in Canada and America after the deep-rooted grasses which would have prevented wind erosion were cut into by deep ploughing.
The question raised is: do farmers/gardeners by their very actions inevitably contribute to the desertification of the land? Is it possible for land to be cultivated, to be used to meet the needs of humans, without jeopardizing the life forms on it in the short term and eventually altering it past the point of no return?
The ideas of permaculture, a way of cultivation that can be sustained indefinitely, offer a perspective, a way of doing and living with the land, that can embrace concern for the environment, organic gardening, energy conservation…many of the concepts dear to every “greenie’s” heart