When I think of everything yet to do on my permaculture journey, it feels so overwhelming. Everything new I research seems to point me towards a new ten-year learning plan, or to the realization that I need new skills.
One of the biggest challenges in permaculture is the vast amount of information out there. It’s easy to feel daunted because the learning seems endless. With so many aspects to learn and master you might think you need a degree in horticulture, engineering, hydrology, soil science or geology, to name but a few!
Is there a way to make solid progress without having to master so many things in advance or spending endless amounts of time figuring out the next step?
I believe so, and you shouldn’t worry about what you don’t know because after all, you don’t yet know what you don’t know.
So, let’s take a look at the quality internet resources that can answer your questions without making you feel you’ve signed up for a full-time college course.
1. Permies Forum
You know, there are two types of people: ones that constantly reach out and ask for help, and others that just try to “solve it on their own”.
Can you guess who ultimately achieves more?
It really takes time to research something new and come up with a satisfying answer. You could be endlessly searching the internet without making any progress, or you could go to permies.com and ask if anyone has the necessary facts and save yourself a lot of effort, time and money.
Permies is now the largest permaculture site on the internet! Anyone looking for the full collection of permaculture forums will find all of them here. With so many sub-forums and so many members this is the perfect location to get all of your questions answered. Equally importantly, you’ll feel welcomed at any stage of your journey and with any kind of a question.
If you have any climatic, geographic, or animal-related questions your first step should be doing a search on the forums of permies.com, or simply asking there.
They also constantly feature experienced permies and they will even answer your questions. Such well-known figures as Stefan Sobkowiak, Darren J. Doherty, Eric Toensmeier, Ben Falk and many others have been featured there.
So, don’t lurk around in the background. Ask for help, save time, money, frustration and connect with likeminded people.
2. PRI -Permaculture Research Institute
The PRI website is an online extension of the Permaculture Research Institute. The PRI is located on a Permaculture demonstration site in The Channon NSW, and is headed by Geoff & Nadia Lawton. Over the years the site has been expanded by the many contributing authors, and now even many experienced permies are posting there because the site acts like a hub for publishing permaculture news.
This is probably the largest database of permaculture articles on the world. It’s like an internet archive of all things permaculture. Here you can find helpful guides, information about courses, case studies, along with material about projects across the globe.
If there is any specific technique you need comprehensively described, do a search on PRI. For instance, my search for “swales” generated a 23-page list of articles. With the whole world being available for permies to perfect their art there is an endless amount of techniques, and lots of feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
They also have Permaculture News TV, featuring over 40 free HD videos by Geoff Lawton, providing inspirational examples of permaculture solutions. If you ever wondered what an established food forest looks like after 20 years or wanted to check out some examples of profitable farms, then subscribe to get updates on newly uploaded videos.
3. Permaculture Global
This is the place to find out who is doing what, and where, in the permaculture world. Here you’ll find an ever-growing list of worldwide permaculture projects. You can search for projects by keyword, and/or filter to specific project types and go to individual project profiles.
Let’s say that you have just arrived in the neighbourhood or you want to move somewhere closer to other permies in the region. This is a great way to find out where other permaculture-minded people are, connect and learn from them, and form a network.
You can even restrict your search by climate zone, so you can find others working in similar conditions as yourself. Lots of people are curious as to what will grow in their climate or if someone has tried something similar to their techniques.
The best way to not reinvent the wheel is to find people nearby that have spent some time experimenting with different things and discovered what works in the region. It’s easy to search, find a suitable project, read up about them, go to their website, and send them an email.
If you have a project of your own, be sure to put it on the map. You can use your project profile to get advice and support, and also, if yours is an educational project, to attract students. By posting regular updates on your profile, maybe you could attract a growing readership too.
4. Plants for the Future Database
PFAF is a fantastic free online plant database with information on over 7000 edible or otherwise useful plants including their origins, place in successions, edibility and medicinal uses. It is also a good place for finding potential plants to grow and a great resource for any plant geeks out there.
There are a number of ways to search for information, by Latin or common name, by plant family, habitat or use. Each plant listing includes plenty of useful information about the plant and where to source it.
To demonstrate how amazing it is, consider the properties you need from your plants and the site conditions and do a search. For example, for my site I need a shrub nitrogen fixer, Zone 7 USDA Hardiness, capable of tolerating my very alkaline soils and also drought resistant. I tick all the boxes, do a search and get a page with lots of names of plants suitable for my conditions.
5. Permaculture Voices Podcast
If you want to hear real stories of people out there doing it and absorb knowledge from their practical experience, than Permaculture Voices podcast is the easiest way to learn. In each episode you’ll hear from experts who are far down their respective paths along with people just like you – who are starting out, making a go of it and learning as go along.
What’s great about the podcast is that Diego Footer, the show’s host, always focuses the interviews on practical insights and advice that you can put into action today. This is the ideal place for people looking to blend the permaculture design process and techniques of permaculture with right livelihood.
The podcast is mostly business-oriented and here you’ll find interviews about starting up a permaculture related businesses, marketing, running a successful market gardening operation, designing a farm…
For example, Diego has been currently following successful market gardening operation run by Curtis Stone. Each podcast episode is packed with all the necessary information about ins and outs of running this kind of a business.
It’s worth noting that once a year Diego organises Permaculture Voices conference in California, where he gets permies doing great things around the world together to share their experiences and knowledge in the form of workshops, lectures and the opportunity to connect and network.
You know, life is too short to be an expert at everything, it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Some aspects of permaculture just may not be your area of expertise, at least not yet!
The good news is that for those of us with an endless list of questions there are places to get them answered. In short they are:
- Permies Forum – the largest permaculture site on the internet
- PRI -Permaculture Research Institute – the largest collection of permaculture articles on the world.
- Permaculture Global – the place to find out who is doing what, and where, in the permaculture world.
- Plants For The Future Database – fantastic free database with information on over 7000 edible or otherwise useful plants
- Permaculture Voices Podcast – audio podcast with practical insights and advice that you can put into action today
What do you think? What other internet resources would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!