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Permaculture is a whole-systems design strategy based on the study and application of ecological patterns.
In the broadest sense, Permaculturists believe that human design can preserve natural environments and improve productivity by mimicking nature's own sustainable systems. The key is to follow the only truly sustainable design model available - nature itself.
Regeneration is a key concept in permaculture. Through our actions and design decisions, we can regenerate and restore damaged ecosystems and human communities, create deeper diversity and greater abundance, conserve natural resources and energy, and create real community. Basic Permaculture concepts include:
- Efficiency: We have seen the folly of centuries of waste and arrogance. The impacts are far-reaching - economic, societal, and ecological. One of permaculture's primary design goals is efficiency in all elements, whether through reducing the distance from the kitchen to the herb garden or considering the use fuel and water.
- Stacking Functions: Permaculture is meant to be applied as an urban gardening strategy and therefore stacking functions is a very important tool. Gardeners use stacking functions when they to grow a tall plant (corn), a vine (beans), and a ground cover (squash) in the same place in the garden, thus using the garden space efficiently to realize three yields. Buildings can also use stacking functions. For example, the Villages at Crest Mountain's open-air common buildings' roofs are used for energy production (PV) and rainwater catchment, while the ground level creates social gathering locations at trail convergences.
- Zones: Permaculture prioritizes zones by importance and frequency. Crucial design elements, those that receive the most traffic and require the most care, are placed in central zones. Less critical or less intensely used features are pushed to the outer zones. For example, in our village, the first zone is the home. Zones radiate out from that epicenter to: private gardens, community gardens and amenities, the greater Crest Mountain community, then the city of Asheville itself.
Permaculture can be applied on any scale and in any environment to improve the triple bottom line - economics, environment, and community.
Meet Our Permaculturalist, Chuck Marsh.
Cohousing is a Danish development philosophy that focuses on community, shared amenities, and self-governance. Cohousing developments are designed to encourage community inclusiveness. They often revisit their ideals and designs to accommodate the residents' needs and desires.
Garden Development is a planning strategy that has been used throughout history and resurfaced recently in the New Urbanist movement as an alternative to "cookie cutter" suburban sprawl.In Garden Developments, cottages face inward around a central courtyard. Instead of an unnatural, perfectly symmetrical organization of homes, garden development relies on wandering walkways and soft edges. It utilizes front porches and lush landscaping.Garden Development creates a comfortable, intimate community and fosters social interaction.