Lots of people ask this question. Here’s one post that addresses it. I’d say that the main difference is that permaculturists aim to learn from and mimic Nature, a living conscious being within whom all parts are dynamically intertwined and interdependent. That goes not just for gardens, but for the interior of one’s own body, for example; not to mention households, neighborhoods, communities, bioregions, solar systems, galaxies! In this vein, I was heartened to see an April 21st report in theguardian that speaks of the possibility of transitioning to a new whole new “regenerative” i.e., permacultural, economic system.
So, to the original question, via Corbin:
difference between organic gardening and Permaculture
The Permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden.
- It is a system that is focused on closing the fertiliser loop by using waste, and reducing the dependence on inputs by creating healthy soil and diversity of produce.
- It is also responsible for its waste, it aims not to pollute the surrounding environment, i.e. neither with excess nitrogen released into the water systems, nor weed seed into any natural systems.
- It uses design to minimise the gardeners chores and energy input. Repetative, hard work is the joy of few permaculturalists. Variety and observation keep people engaged and excited about growing food. Permaculture activists are motivated by reducing their ecological footprint and developing a varied healthy lifestyle. Permaculture needs to engage all people of different ability, not just young strong people who can shovel compost.
- It aims to imitate nature. Visually this is the most noticeable difference between organic gardening and permaculture. In permaculture gardens (home systems is the more holistic term) there is rarely bare soil, the conservation of soil and water is a high priority. There is a more complex use of space. Plants are allowed to set seed and are interplanted for pest control. You are unlikely to see plants in rows.
- The permaculture system aims to harvest and maximise water, sun and other natural energies, e.g. wind, dust, leaves, bird droppings.
- The permaculture system aims to provide nutritious food and habitat for people AND native animals and birds.
See more about our Permaculture Design and Demonstration Site
What’s the difference between Organic Farming and Permaculture?
Organic Farming promotes the use of natural fertilisers, making use of the natural carbon cycle so that waste from plants becomes the food (fertiliser) of another. In organic farming however, as with ALL farming, minerals are being lost from the farm every time a truck load of produce is carted to market.
Permaculture goes one step further. Permaculture brings production of food closer to consumers and the consumer’s wastes back into the cycle. It also reduces the energy wasted in transporting the foods by producing the foods where the people are. In permaculture the people contribute in their daily life toward the production of their food and other needs.