12 new chickens have joined us this week, rescued from being slaughtered, to live here at the permaculture farm.

The new chickens are going to be kept in the coop for a few days so that they can get used to where to call home, then we can let them enjoy the 10 acres of field and woodland.

Not only are the chickens getting a better life but they are also doing a service, removing bugs and fertilising the soil.

What Is Permaculture?

I thought it would be useful, as an organisation which has permaculture at its core, to give a basic explanation of permaculture.

At conception, permaculture was a contraction of ‘permanent agriculture’, really driving at the idea of a sustainable system of crop growth, one which takes into account inter-related internal and external factors and how they inter-relate.

However, since it’s initial conception, permaculture has caught on, and as it has, people have applied the concept to many different areas of life, from growing food to banking, from education to domestic chores; the modern concept is one of considering wider inter-related (internal & external) factors with a focus on sustainability.

This, very broad, philosophy can be interpreted and applied in many ways; the Permaculture association says:

“Permaculture combines three key aspects:

1. An ethical framework

2. Understandings of how nature works

3. A design approach”

And Permaculture Magazine describes permaculture like this:

“1. Permaculture is an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living.

2.It is a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere.”

To bring this into how TreeThinker operatres, our understanding of permaculture is that it is the implementation of agricultural techniques and design processes which work with nature to be sustainable, not only in terms of local food growth but also in terms of the wider ecosystem.

If you want to know more, you can try one of the books in our ‘Top 3 Permaculture Books For Beginners‘ section.

The Role Of Observation In Permaculture

TreeThinkerObserveThe first of the twelve design principles of permaculture is: Design & Interact – emphasising the importance of taking the time to understand the situation in which we are designing.

Design can take many forms, big or small; whether it is deciding where to hang a picture at home or designing a building to hang it in, some common features exist between all forms of designing and, at the same time, some systems exist which can improve our chances of success. You will have used many of these systems before, permaculture helps us to develop a framework to help design go well.

Observation skills were once a vital survival skill for our ancestors; people relied on understanding what was safe to eat, when it would grow and where and where danger might lie. By observing our natural surrounding we are able to understand them and use them to our advantage.

In designing a permaculture growing space, some things to consider are:

  • Soil (Type, pH, depth)
  • Wind
  • Temperature: Over the year
  • Sunlight: shade
  • Microclimate
  • Moisture
  • Vegetation
  • Animals
  • Local resources

Once we have developed an understanding of a growing space, it is possible to ensure that we are planting things that grow well in that environment, rather than try to change the environment to suit what are we growing – which is more resource and labour intensive.

Top 3 Permaculture books for beginners

A reading list featuring top books for anyone interested in getting into permaculture:

Permaculture Design: A Step by Step Guide
Author: Aranya
ISBN-13 9781856230919
Giving a fantastic introduction to help get started in permaculture.
(To order:

Creating a Forest Garden
Author Martin Crawford
ISBN-13 9781900322621
A wonderful resource for making the most of a forest environment for growing food.
(To order:

The Vegan Book of Permaculture: Recipes for Healthy Eating and Earthright Living
Author Graham Burnett
ISBN-13 9781856232012
Useful guide to make the most of your permaculture crop.
(To order:

Bonus Book:

The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure : Emphasizing Minimum Technology and Maximum Hygienic Safety.
Author: Joseph C. Jenkins
ISBN 096442584X, 9780964425842
A great asset for anyone growing food according to permaculture principles
(To order: