On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Part 9

I don’t know about you, but I’m itching for some action.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s been a great ride so far – a real trip! We’ve:

Most recently we dipped into the Agile software development methodology resulting in some crazy rich insights, discussion and brain-stretching in the reader commentaries (such as here or here) along the way.1

Yet the fact remains. I’m itching for some action.

Accordingly, in the very next post I’ll start sharing a real land-based permaculture design process explicitly guided by a CDUFDDAYG approach (completing a concept design up front and then letting the detailed design emerge as you go – see here for a fuller explanation).

The first phases of this process oughtn’t raise any permaculture eyebrows.2 Sure, it has its quirks, but, as you’d expect, it tunes into people and place before unfolding a concept design. No surprises there.

Only at this point do eyebrows potentially start raising. For as you’ll see, earthworks begin without any detailed design drawings. The details were designed in realtime inside the process of their implementation.

This goes directly against the grain of what we have seen is the standard recommendation for how permaculture design ought to be done.3

It is an experiment in a design approach more agile, real feedback rich, and generating (or generative) than what in permaculture has, once again, become standard practice.4

Disclaimer and Condition

What you are about see is an experiment. It is an exploratory attempt to crash-test some of the ideas being here explored.

I in no way wish to convey or leave open any interpretation that I consider this example best-practice, or perfect, or something anyone should unquestioningly replicate. Indeed, feedback on where this process failed or could have been better is extremely welcome!

On the other hand, this experiment (and even more so for the example after that) do constitute the beginnings of what for me has been an exciting new chapter in my career as a professional designer, and if there is anything that resonates then by all means go ahead and test it out in your own world/work, on one condition: that you get in touch afterwards (or before and during, if you prefer) and let me know how it goes.

The more people out there experimenting with this stuff and feeding the results of their experimentation back into some kind of collaborative conversation (wherever that may be), the better. Such conversations are surely a critical ingredient of a permaculture becoming ever stronger.

One Other Key Aspect Worth Mentioning

Although it is the relationship between design and implementation that I will be emphasising in coming posts, there are other non-conventional ingredients in the mix too.  I will touch on these other aspects sufficiently to provide enough context for you to understand the process as a whole, but my core intent is to clearly communicate the way designing was related to implementing as a stimulant of further discussions and developments.

That said, I ought to mention one other particularly significant difference with conventional or standard treatments of permaculture design. In both the experimental processes I am about to share, as per the outcomes of my previous inquiry (which started here and ended here), design is understood as a process of progressively differentiating a pre-existing whole as opposed to assembling pre-existing elements into a whole.5 Now I’m not going to go on about it – I’ve said my piece on this previously – But I just wanted to let you know it is part of the mix.

Time to Get on with it

This post has been a segue. Its job has been to pick up this inquiry and fling it over the threshold between theory and practice. Consider it flung.  Let’s get on with it.


  1. HUGE thanks to everyone who took the time to comment – much appreciated and really helps motivate me to keep going
  2. Please do keep track of your eyebrows as you read the next several posts and do let me know what they get up to, if anything.
  3. While being consistent with non-standard recommendations we have seen from Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Dave Jacke and Ben Falk
  4. Sorry to harp on about this, but I feel like someone has to!
  5. Put another way, the guiding understanding is that the whole and its parts dance forward together where each step adaptively enhances and grows out of what is already there.


    1. Thanks Alexander and sorry to keep you hanging! Life actually has become a little full the last few weeks, but I’m hoping to free up some writing time next week to get this flowing again, for I’m still itching for action!

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