PC glossary

A
B Biodiversity: is the variety of organisms that are present in a living system, such as a landscape or a garden. In general Ecosystems are more stable the more biodiversity they have. One could also say that biodiversity is an expression of aliveness and health of an ecosystem.

„Becoming Indigenous“: Indigenous people have lived with the lands for thousands of years in a relationship of mutual care. Becoming indigenous means developing a knowledge of the lands we live on and of its relationships, establishing an intimacy of knowing how its elements relate to each other and build the bigger whole. Getting to know its life cycles, and adapting to them in a certain way. Becoming indigenous also means to establish an attitude of mutual care and stewardship towards the land. It nourishes me as much as I nourish it.

Beneficial Relationship : Permaculture aims to design relationships between elements in a system (be it a garden, a community, household or whatever), that are beneficial to each other, which means that we try to create closed systems of circular energy flows, where one thing nourishes the other. Take the example of a compost. When cooking with veggies, the scrap goes to compost or the animals (like chicken or rabbits) who nourish themselves from what is not useful for me anymore. And both compost and animal shit increase fertility and aliveness of the soil which brings new growth for nourishing and sheltering plants for both animals and humans.

C Compost: “Composting will save the world” 🙂 . Composting is the natural process of digestion, which creates fertile soil for new life from “dead” organic matter, that became unuseful. There are many ways to Compost. Composting is a key element of the Permaculture Garden, closing the cycle between death and new life, and bringing fertility to the soil.

Companion Planting: Placing plants from differnt species close to each other, so one benefits the other, for example by keeping away pests or insects.

Cover Crops: are crops which are planted specifically with the aim of preventing soil erosion through dry out and suppress weeds.

D Design: Permaculture is a Design Concept in order to create permanent systems of beneficial and regenerative relationships in the most diverse contexts. The Design is the process of observing, and analysing a piece of land, a community, or a project where Permaculture should be applied. In an assessment of its elements we aim to relate those so they nourish themselves mutually with energy.

Deep Ecology: is both a holistic worldview, which understands earth as a living system in which all is related. Thus it understands humans as embedded in the ecosystem, not superior to it. Deep ecology also insists of the inherent value of all forms of life through their role in the eco-system. As an applied approach towards the world, deep ecology aims to reconnect humans with their individual grief which is understood to be the expression of the systemic violence exerted by industrial growth societies.

Degrowth: questions the logic of growth inherent to the present economic system,reaching deep into the values of the culture of industrial civilization. Degrowth aims to explore ways of a simpler yet more fullfilled and earthbased life.

Decolonizing: Means questioning power relations based on the understanding of power as “power over”. This means questioning stories that legitimate the violence exerted from those at the top of the hierarchy, towards those lower in the hierarchy. Decolonizing means: understanding every living being (regardless if it is a human or not) as bearing an inherent value and being open to listen to their story, instead of imposing violence on them. In connection with Permaculture this also means: Decolonizing our understanding of nature. We are trying to find a way of transforming “power over” the lands into “power from within” and synergy through deep listening and observation.

E Ethics: Ethics are the Base of Permaculture, guiding every Design Process. They are Earth Care, People Care, Fair share.

Energy: is central in permaculture, since it is an approach to design closed energy flows. Energy can be the electricity that I get from my solar panels or the wind urbine on my roof, but also money, water, people’s skills, …  can be understood as “energy” flowing through a project or permaculture estate.

Ecology: is the way of understanding every element in this world as a product of it’s relations. Thus everything is connected. Similarly also Permaculture is an approach to design realtionships rather than elements.

Economy: Can we create an economy that is embedded into the principles of ecology?

Edge: describes the place where two systems meet, like a bushy hedge between forest and field or the brackish water where a sweet water river flows into the salt water sea. Edges are increasing diversity, since they offer living conditions for inhabitants of both systems and create conditions for new inhabitants of the edge itself.

F Forest Garden: is a multi-storied landscape that acts like a natural woodland and gives habitat to various species as well as gifting food, also to humans.
G Grassroots Movement: are using collective action on the local level to effect change on a local, regional, national or international level. Decisions are being taken and implemented from bottom up rather than from top-down direction.

Guild: is a harmniously interwoven group of plants and animals, often centered around one major species (ex. Apple tree guild in the forest garden). It benefits humans while creating a habitat for wildlife.

H Humus: is the key element for building soil fertility. It consists of nutrient-storing molecules created by microbes and other forces of decomposition, that benefits humans while creating habitat.
I Interplaning: Combining plants from different species by avoiding competition for light, space or nutrients. The diversity which is created through interplanting/intercropping helps to repell pests.
J  …
K Keyline Design: is a technique of designing landscapes in a way that water is used in the best way. Keylines are the contour lines, meaning the altitude differences in a landscape. Also see >swale.
L  …
M Microclimate gardening: means arranging plants (but also all other elements in a garden) in a manner that will take advantage of the microclimate and thus creating favorable conditions for plants to grow (like placing frost-tender plants like citruses against a warm, south facing wall).
N Needs: Each element in a permaculture design has different needs. Before going into the design process it is crucial to make an assessment of those, in order to see which needs need to be fullfilled within the system. Knowing the needs of different elements, and knowing what they are bringing on the other hand can be a first step towards creating beneficial relationships through combining different elements with one another.

Niche: is the role that a particular organism takes within an ecosystem. One could understand the niche of an organism as the profession and the habitat as the workspace it needs for performing its job.

Nitrogen Fixers: are plants (like leguminosae) that make atmospheric nitrogen available to other plants by storing it in their roots. Once they die and decompose, they release the nitrogen back to the soil, from where it can be taken by other plants. Nitrogen fixers are a key element for bringing fertility to the soil.

Nurse Plants: are species that create shelter and otehr favorable conditions in which more delicate plants can more easily sprout and start to grow.

Nature Based Practise: is a way to develop ecological senistivity through connecting inner work with experience of wild nature through different practises. It helps us to come to a greater understanding of the self and our role in the web of life, by connecting to non-human surroundings and recognizing our embeddedness in natural processes.

O Observation: is the key principle of the permaculture design. Observation is the first step that brings us in conenction with the site or taget group. Good, intensive observation before and all the way during the implementation of a design in a landscape or community will help us to understand how the system works and where we need to make changes, aiming to use as less effort as possible to obtain as much as we need. 
P Perennial Plants: are all plants that live more than 2 years. They have an important role in the permaculture garden, since they don’t need to be replanted every year and thus reduce the work effort needed in order to obtain a yield. Perennial plants also contribute to soil health since their roots can grow much deeper and aeriate the soil, and also they are more resistant to droughts, being able to establish long roots throughout the years that reach to deeper levels of the earth where water reserves are.

Pioneer Plant: are fast growing, nutrient accumulating flora that arrives first after disturbance. They create conditions for other plants to grow and are represent the first step in the >succession.

Pruning: is describing the process of cutting the branches of fruit trees.

Principles: There are 12 Principles (Like: Obeserve and interact”) that guide the permaculture design process. They are a tool which aims to bridge the more mental aspects of a design, like ethics with the physical elements and zones.

Permaculture and Peace Building: through the ethics of earth care, people care and fair share, which stand at the core of each permaculture design and aim to create mutually beneficial relationships that foster synergies, and thus peace and coexistance, permaculture can be used as a powerful tool to design transformation within societies that lead towards a more peaceful togetherness. Through 3peas Project, GAIA Kosovo is trying to implement permaculture as a peacebuilding tool in the Balkan Region.

Q
R Relationship: stands in the center of permaculture’s holistic approach, which aims to design regenerative systems of  mutually beneficial relationships between different elements. The key logic behind that is: Connection. So when looking at an element or object through permaculture lense, we rather ask for qualities that relate this element with it’s surroundings than seeing it isolated and standing for itself. Everything exists only through it’s relatedness to everything else.

Regenerative Agriculture: is a way of farming that aims to increase soil feritility, and regenerate aliveness of landscapes through working with the principles of nature, not against them.

Resilience: describes the ability of ecosystems but also communities to recover from or resist shocks. A key element that creates resilience is diversity. A monoculture field will fall victim to pests if no pesticides are used. An intercropped field of diverse plants that stand in beneficial relationship to each other will not leave much target to shocks like pests, and is thus more resilient.

Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle: are principles of >degrowth, aiming to decrease energy consumption and work towards the establishment of closed energy and material flows.

S Sector: is an area where energy flows from outside, such as wind, sun or target groups run through a permaculture site or a social project. Analyzing sectors and finding out how to usefully integrate them into the system is the base of a permaculture design process.

Succession: is describing how a biological community evolves over time. In regions of temperate climate, woods are the natural state of the landscape. In this case, succession describes the process of how grasslands turn into forests. In permaculture we use the process of succession for designing processes of longer duration, like forest gardens.

Sheet Mulching: is a method of composting in place through combining different layers of organic matter and thus building soil and eradicating weeds without tilling or the need for herbicides

Swale: is a shallow trench created along the lands contours (>keyline design) to allow water to enter the soil.

System Thinking: is a systematic and holistic approach towards problem solving that sees the interrelatedness of everything, and aims to take action from a deeper level, in order to create a greater and more sustainable effect on the symptom level.

Stewardship: is a principle of approach to wards the land that is rooted in an attitude of care. It also reverses the logic of human as standing on the peak of eco-systems and sees us as embedded into a living system that we can meet in an attitude of care, aiming to increase its beauty rather than using it until everything is destroyed.

T Transition Town: is a movement that aims to create resilient communities for a society after fossil fuel (peak oil).
U Urban Permaculture
V Vermicompost: is a compost that involves earth worms for digestion of organic matter. Thus the process of composting goes much faster. And the humus coming out of it is capable to contain a lot more water than normal compost. Vermicomposts are an easy and clean way to keep a compost in a flat in urban settings.
W  …
X  …
Y Yield: “Obtain a yield” is one of the 12 permaculture principles. It encourages us to design processes in a way that we can harvest small results all way through the process, not only in the end. This encourages to go further by taking small steps and making enough pauses.
Z Zoning: is a method of the permaculture design which splits a site into different zones in which elements are placed according to how often they are used or need attention. There are 5 zones, with the house on the site or the center of the project being Zone 0. The more an element is used, the closer it is placed to zone 0.