Permaculture Principle #3 – Obtain a Yield

Permaculture Principle #3 – Obtain a Yield

Obtaining a yield just reminds us that any work that you do should be to accomplish something. A yield can mean food, a harvest, or it can also be other things. You can obtain a yield of timber to build with or it can be grasses to weave baskets with. A yield could also be plants with medical or herbal uses. This principle just reminds us to keep in mind having useful plants around and using plants that do have uses that are already around us.


Permaculture Principle #2 – Catch and Store Energy

Permaculture Principle #2 – Catch and Store Energy

The principle of catching and storing energy applies to many different areas. From catching solar or wind power to harvesting and storing rain water. It can also be applied food gathering. Harvesting things that are in season and then preparing and preserving them so that the energy is stored so we can eat it later.

One of my favorite examples is storing and using the energy from rain water. There are several things that can be done to store the rain water. The first step is to setup a storage system on the downspouts of buildings, usually rain barrels. Next it’s important to watch where water naturally runs. Digging swales or ditches perpendicular to the flow will slow down the flow of water and allow more water to seep into the ground. Closely planting and heavy mulching also ensure that the ground stays moist longer and that the water in the ground is being used by plants.

Permaculture Principle #1 – Observe and Interact

Permaculture Principle #1 – Observe and Interact

As with all the principles #1 is simple. Sit, watch, and play with. The best way to learn about our surroundings is to watch closely. This applies to things growing in a forest, to watching shoppers at a mall, and also to just about any other thing that is watchable. You can learn a lot just by watching closely.

Not sure what a plant is, visit it once a week or at different times of day and note the changes. Some plants only flower at night, others only when it is a certain temperature, or maybe only after a heavy down pour. Plants can also change very quickly, sprouting up and growing quickly when ideal growing conditions are met.

Observing can also teach you about what plants grow well together, what type of soil conditions you have, what the layout of the land is, where the water flows from the down spout, what spots are sunny or shading, where trees will lay down free mulch, where wind will blow leaves away.

Interacting takes observation to the next level. Notice a plant growing well in one spot and have a location with similar features. Interact by transplanting a few of those plants and observing what happens. You’ll learn about that plant and also the conditions of both the original plot and the new location. Observing and interacting leads us straight into the 2nd principle, Catch and Store Energy.

Permaculture Principles

This is the list of the 12 Permaculture Principles:
  1. Observe and interact
  2. Catch and store energy
  3. Obtain a yield
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change
Check out for a nice info-graphic and explanation of the 12 principles. Keep an eye out for articles explaining each of these principles.

Permaculture Core Ethics

The three guiding core ethics of permaculture are simple (this is some of the lovie dovie stuff):

  1. Care of People
  2. Care of the Earth
  3. Fair Share

Care of People

Care of people starts with care of one’s self, extends to our immediate friends and family, on to our community, and then to all the inhabitants of Earth. It’s a really simple concept but it is important that it isn’t over looked. We should always first account for our own self interest and then the interests of others.

Care of the Earth

Care of the Earth means keeping in mind the health of the soil, flora, and fauna of the natural environment. This principle helps us to think about how our actions affect not only us but the health of all other beings and creatures around us.

Fair Share

Fair Share means to limit consumption and freely sharing any surplus. So don’t take more than you need and if you have more than you need give it away. When I think of this I think of potluck dinners. It’s easy to overfill your plate when there is so much good food and the reason there is so much good food is that everyone brings something to share.

Pretty simple, pretty straightforward. These are the 3 Permaculture Core Ethics to keep in mind as you brainstorm and design.

Introduction to Permaculture

Permaculture is a design system that can be used to design anything but is mainly used to layout and plan farms and gardens in a highly evolved ecological way. There are many great resources on the internet about permaculture but many contain a lot of fluff and lovie dovie type stuff. I am going to do a series of articles describing key ideas, concepts, people, and practical applications of principles.


Permaculture was developed in Australia by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s. Permaculture is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture, and permanent culture. The whole idea is to try to create systems that don’t deplinish resources but actually add value back into the system. Below are a few lists of things I will write articles about.


  • Core Ethics (set of 3)
  • Design Principles (set of 12)
  • Designing from Patterns (herb spiral, keyhole beds, sheet mulching)
  • Zones
  • Layering
  • Guilds
  • Edge


  • David Holmgren
  • Bill Mollison
  • Sepp Holzer
  • Geoff Lawton