• Sustainable Farming: 12 Design Principles

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    A Brief History of Agriculture

    The scale below provides an indication of how recent the phenomenon of farming is:

    •The world was formed ca 4, 600 million years ago.
    •Eukaryotic life forms: ca. 1,000 million years ago
    •First hominid life forms 4 million years ago (hunter gatherers)
    •First human farmers: about 12,000 years ago.
    •Global Agricultural Evolution: 1650 – 1850 AD
    •Modern Agricultural Evolution: 1950 – present

    Changes in agricultural production

    World agriculture has undergone some fundamental changes in the past few decades. One has been that many developing countries have greatly expanded their capacities in agricultural research and innovation. Combined with support from international agricultural research centers, this has led to the availability of improved technologies and practices for local farmers. Complementing this have been institutional and policy reforms, improvements in farmer education and health, and investments in rural infrastructure, all of which help create an environment where new farm technologies and practices are adopted more rapidly.


    Combining the best of natural landscaping and edible landscaping, permaculture aims for a site that sustains itself and the gardener. The ultimate purpose of permaculture is to develop a site until it meets all the needs of its inhabitants, including food, shelter, fuel, and entertainment. The wordpermaculture was coined in the mid-1970s by two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. 

    Permaculture emphasizes the use of native plants or those that are well adapted to your local area. Plant things you like, but make sure they have a purpose and somehow benefit the landscape.

    Permaculture Design Principles 

    By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation. This icon for this design principle represents a person ‘becoming’ a tree. In observing nature it is important to take different perspectives to help understand what is going on with the various elements in the system. The proverb “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” reminds us that we place our own values on what we observe, yet in nature, there is no right or wrong, only different.

    By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need. This icon for this design principle represents energy being stored in a container …

    The techniques and strategies used to apply these principles vary widely depending on the location, climatic conditions and resources that are available. The methods may differ, but the foundations to this holistic approach remain constant. By learning these principles you can acquire valuable thinking tools that help you become more resilient in an era of change.

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