Articulating Clear Design Goals

The word permaculture has different flavours for different folk. My favourite flavour is that of design. I see permaculture as an amazing design system helping people and landscapes partner to look after each other, each providing the other with a significant amount of what they need to thrive, now and into the future.

My main experience in applying this flavour of permaculture relates to what I do for a living: for the last five or so years I have been collaborating with friends to design and create edible gardens in and around Melbourne. In this work we use a permaculture design process to bring people and space together in backyard edible ecosystems.

The design process we use starts by tuning in to the people and then the site. Next, we find suitable spots for desired areas (like orchards), and then things within those areas (like apple trees). Taking a cue from nature’s book, we make mutually beneficial connections among these areas and things. We also consider harmonious access and circulation patterns throughout the site. All the while, we wriggle back and forth between patterns and details, problems and solutions, observations, interpretations and new design ideas. It is a fluid and beautiful thing, and you never know exactly where it will take you.

In this article I will focus on just one part of the design process. I want to share our starting point, and why our experience has taught us that it matters.