A Five-Phase Process
Permaculture is about whole systems, not about separate components. Because each element in a landscape or the built environment affects every other element at a site, we believe that a complete, comprehensive assessment is tantamount to develop healthy, productive, energy efficient relationships between elements for the benefit of everyone involved in day to day operations and life. By paying attention to all the details: topography, climate, water, wind, sun, activity nodes and corridors, buildings, machinery and tools, the waste stream, plants and animals, it enables us to make best use of what is already on the ground, and what we intend to put there. With a dynamic interaction of elements in process, and an assessment of both spatial and temporal attributes, organized around sound ecological principles, we can maximize yields and balance the landscape. In order to accomplish this we conduct a five-phase process as follows:
Phase I: Initial discussion, protocol, history, institutional analysis, vision, mission, geopolitical assessment, bioregional delineation, values, objectives, needs, wants, budgets.
Phase II: On site assessment, abiotic and biotic factors, physical, biological and cultural attributes, landform, built environment, energy sources, present and historical land use features, activity nodes and corridors, land tenure, critical habitat foundations, soil composition, vegetation composition and cover, successional pattern and plant productivity, wildlife corridors, water resources, climatological factors, the waste stream.
Phase III: Recommendations based on assessment and needs, suitability analysis, the whys and wherefores of transitioning into a “green” environment.
Phase IV: Designing the vision, integrating the systems, comprehensive design and master planning, construction drawings.
Phase V: Action steps, budget, implementation, monitor, maintain.
Scale of Permanence
The Scale of Permanence was delineated by Australian P.A. Yeomans in the 1950’s. Noted for his work with the “Keyline” system, a simple technique for holding water where it falls on the land, he created this template to organize our thoughts around what is intrinsic to land design and development. These are the facets that we focus on when assessing and designing a land base:
Access & Circulation
Vegetation & Wildlife
Buildings & Infrastructure
Zones of Use
Soil Fertility & Management
Needs, Products & Behaviors, Intrinsic Characteristics
We investigate and analyze each element that we place or include in the landscape in order to configure the most efficacious relationships that maximize energy, the use and reuse of materials, and to create a thriving ecology and food web that augments yields: energy, food, materials, etc.
Zone and Sector Analysis
The zone system, as utilized in a Permaculture environment, is a template for reflection and design. It is based on frequency and density of activity and use of specific locations in the landscape and built environment. It also affords us the opportunity to move people and materials through a site in the most benign and and healthy ways, based on need. Location, location, location!
Sector analysis entails a process of mapping the movement of natural forces coursing through a property: wind, water, weather, sunshine. By taking an inventory of these forces and assessing their strengths and direction of movement we are able to utilize them by putting them to work for us. This eliminates the need for over dependence on technological means for heating, cooling and energy, and helps in the proper placement of vegetation and all other elements in the landscape.