Permaculture is a philosophy and design strategy that seeks to align our lives with patterns in nature. At Washington College, students explore permaculture through academic internships, interdisciplinary experiences, and hands-on garden activities.
Permanent + Agriculture = Permaculture
Inspired by the oil crisis of the 1970s, Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren sought to understand how people could restore the planet without relying on scarce energy sources. They looked to aboriginal cultures and patterns in ecosystems to develop a paradigm for human culture based on three ethics:
1) Care for the Earth – replenish ecosystems on which we depend
2) Care for People – meet human needs
3) Fair Share – a balanced approach to diversity and inclusion
Our Permaculture Toolkit
Permaculture principles guide the mission and philosophy of the Food Initiative, which promotes hands-on skills to support human and ecological health. ESFL Interns are campus leaders with a strong sense of social and environmental justice. The multidisciplinary Permaculture Internship engages students in deep ecology and systems design for academic credit. The Campus Garden is a space all students can explore the connection between food and biodiversity. The Compost Team revives the soil food web, the basis for all terrestrial life. Our Beekeeping 101 course is taught through the lens of permaculture.
Embracing Diverse Perspectives
As an environmental and social justice movement, permaculture draws insights from human populations around the globe. The models and practices of permaculture are as varied as the people who choose to live in accord with the natural world. It invites us to use observation to dissolve limiting beliefs, challenging cultural prejudices that separate human and biotic communities.
Permaculture offers a method for exploring the values of critical thinking, effective communication, and moral courage — to discover purpose and passion through a holistic approach to life.