Introduction to Permaculture

Hello Kalabaw fam! Bernie here, Community Manager of the hard-working Kalabaw Team ? One of the principles we value in Holy Carabao farm is Permaculture. Last month, I attended a Permaculture Design Course in Jagna, Bohol to find out what the whole shabam is about.

The first thing that strikes us when we hear the word Permaculture, is exactly the term ‘permaculture’. What does permaculture stand for? Is it an actual word?Yes It’s actually a play of words of the two- ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture’. So what is permanent agriculture? There is no definite statement to describe the term but it suggests that food is forever abundant in your land. Isn’t that the most ideal situation for people who grow their own food?!

On top are two of the most important Permaculture ethics along with Fair Share. Ones below it are permaculture principles that you can use in your space.

There are several permaculture principles and four main ethics that would help give you more ideas about what permaculture is about but in a nutshell, permaculture is about helping lands, farms or spaces to become self-sustaining.  One way is to mimic the nature of forests. Soil there isn’t manually cultivated; they take care of themselves yet biodiversity is spectacular ??. In farming, we can achieve that self-sustaining system by planning at the start how the space will be utilized for maximum efficiency and minimal input in the long run.

One way to mimic forests is by using patters we find in nature. Mason here holds a picture of the iris and the skeletal anatomy of a fish. Look at how we applied those patterns!


Kuya Jonel checks up on the compost pile we made the other day with brown matter, green matter and poop!

One example of using permaculture in farming is planting or ‘stacking’ more than one crop that are beneficial together in a square meter of space rather than planting rows of just one crop (and tilling the land which aren’t good for the soil and exhaustive for the farmer ?. Have a look at plant companions and permaculture guilds. Plant companions are basically plants that you could plant together that are supposed to have a harmonious relationship with each other. Guilds are the same instead of just plants, you put elements together that have a beneficial relationship with each other like plant stacking. Have a look at this link which gives a summary of what guilds are and the elements you can put together:

Wanna plant in your backyard AND invest in your childrens’ future? Plant Jackfruit! 🙂


One aspect of Permaculture is ‘permanent agriculture’.? In food production, permaculture encourages planting perennial plants or trees which live for many years and some even longer than our lifespan ? Observe the nature in forests and you’ll notice most plants are perennials. Although they usually grow slowly unlike our leafy veggies, a Jackfruit tree for example can produce up to 250 fruits per year!? Then later on, the body which resembles oak can be used for furniture or as building material. Talk about real lifetime investment ?


Kuya is so happy that he doesn’t have to use materials like cement that harm both the environment and his health in building the kitchen. 😉

Permaculture strongly encourages the use of natural materials, recycled materials and indigenous knowledge in building structures. Bamboo and nipa are widely used in the tropics to allow cool air to flow in. They work with nature and definitely works for us in keeping that breeze ? In other situations, it might be having to use materials that retain the heat inside the living space (materials such as adobe or superadobe) or even adding a wind block feature in your land to assist in heat retention. There are so many possibilities in building structures that work with nature. We just have to observe nature, read the landscape rather than making assumptions right away about the kind of living conditions we deem as most comfortable.

Georgia and Kirsty pose during preparation for our daily vegan meals. Care for people means options for everybody 🙂

With those things being said, a change in mindset has to take place. Most people who grow food do it for commercial purposes or simply to provide food to their family’s table. However we have become accustomed to the kind of veggies we want to see on our plates. If we want to do permaculture, we have to learn to accept variety and that means accepting to eat different kinds of veggies every week or every day and learning different recipes from what we are used to or using different methods of cooking. As we’ve seen, there is so many aspects that go into permaculture and you might not adhere with permaculture completely in your farm or backyard. But using permaculture principles, little by little, we can create living spaces that are comfortable for us and good for the earth.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I’ll be back with more permaculture tips and blog entries when there is no farm tour for the day. By the way, if you’d like to see how we apply permaculture in Holy Carabao farm, do come by and visit and I’d be glad to give an educational tour. Check out for more details! ?