Permaculture is an ecological design process that integrates landscape and people to provide their food, energy, water, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.
The concept brings together whole-systems thinking inspired by lessons from nature and creative design processes. A wide range of technologies and techniques are fed into specific designs as appropriate to individual projects. Starting from a mostly land-based focus, it is now being applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to architecture, from technology to education and even economics.
Permaculture started in the late 1970s and was initially adopted and tested by people at the margins of society – innovators, back-to-the-land smallholders, ecologists and radical development workers. It has spread rapidly ever since via grassroots education and a lot of practical implementation. From small beginnings in Australia, it is now a worldwide movement spanning 135 countries, with more than 250 national, regional and international organisations and many tens of thousands of local projects and practitioners.
From the article by Andy Goldring available here: Designing The World We Want