Permaculture is about designing sustainable settlements. It is a philosophy and an approach to land use, which weaves together microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, water management, and human needs into intricately connected, productive communities

Bill Mollingson & reny Mia Slay

  • Whole system(s) design is the fundamental approach to any permaculture project. We must cultivate a designers mind by becoming systems thinkers.
  • 50% of whole systems design is trial and error! Try it, measure the results and adjust accordingly
  • Creating designs that focus on the relationships between each component, rather than the focussing on the component itself
  • Be aware of waste, make plans to decrease it (by using it for good).
  • Bringing yourself into the correct relationship with ALL of the resources you consume




Designing or identifying a whole system can quickly become overwhelming because of the sheer volume of relationships that happen in the simplest of processes. A permaculture whole systems design can be broken down into four parts.


Observe patterns in nature, such as what happens with (soil, climate and water cycles) and use them as a guide. Mimic and work with these rather than against them. Develop structured plans based on these observations. 


A set of guiding permaculture principles help us make decisions and plan approach. One such principle is observing and adhering to the patterns in nature. 


Well defined processes help to manifest ideas into reality. One such process framework is GOBRADIME, which will be discussed below.


Location is critical, it is necessary to bring context to a project and is often critical to the success of a system design.