Organic Gardening VS Permaculture Design

organoc gardening vs permaculture design

Agriculture as we know it is one of the – if not THE – essential factors in the global economy. It provides life-sustaining food for all people. Yet, the farming industry is far from being sustainable in any form. Its immense carbon emissions and use of chemicals pollute the environment and deplete the soil of its living organic matter. We should draw attention to the fact that soil degradation leads to “sterile” lands and, in some scenarios, desertification. People have been seeking solutions to address this challenge, which brings us to organic gardening and permaculture design. To understand the distinctions and similarities between these two options, I compare them both below. 


Some farmers and individuals provide solutions for cultivating organic produce that is safer and healthier food.

Organic gardeners focus primarily on agricultural practices without using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. They use crop rotation, composting, animal manure-approved natural sprays, and other natural means to control plants’ pests and diseases. By using composting these farmers significantly help improve degraded agricultural land.

To understand the distinction between these two methods, we remark on their objectives. Organic gardening focuses on the agricultural output that offers people
healthy produce.


Permaculture is defined as sustainably cultivating farming ecosystems. The practice of permaculture design (aka Ecological design) deals with integrating systems such as growing food, health care, shelter, education, soil, land use, and security for all living things. It draws natural inspiration to develop synergetic farming systems based on plant diversity and guilds, soil fertility, saving energy and water.

As a design-focused system, it protects ecological regenerative functions and aims to ensure a long-term sustainable harmony with nature. It offers ways to regard and contemplate how things are naturally co-related.


Permaculture’s pillars are a set of ethics or, more specifically, three universally agreed-upon norms: earth care, people care, and fair share.

Earth Care
Whatever methods we use to pursue a yield should consider the preservation and stewardship of the land. In the end, caring for the earth will, in turn, ensure our ability to take care of the second ethic.

People Care
Human relationships, just like the relationships of the elements in a garden, are at the heart of people care. Because of permaculture, they would live more prosperous lives and create healthier communities.

Fair Share
The third ethic, Fair Share, is where we share abundance generously. Farming in a sustainable way means a fair share – reinvesting back in the people who do the work and into the system for future generations!


  • A design system should follow observation and analysis.
  • Whole systems thinking is a method to understand how elements are connected and how they influence one another sustainably.
  • Creating no waste by using it as compost or recycling.
  • Acting responsibly to protect the ecosystem and long-term sustainability.
  • Ensures careful planning for the use of natural resources.
  • Conserving diversity: polyculture instead of monoculture.
  • Plant stacking for intensive growing.
  • Energy planning: zones and sector design.
  • Develop polyculture guilds and include perennials.

Permaculture is a highly developed Art, Science, and Philosophy – all in one.

It takes a bit more work and thoughtful planning to establish a permaculture garden than a typical organic garden. The permaculture planning and design will ensure the use of local natural resources and care for the soil restoration if needed. In that case, it will be the solution for nurturing not only individuals but an entire community.

Even if you practice organic gardening, you can still develop a sense of awareness for nature’s ecological harmony and preservation. A planetary view of climate change shows us the fragility of the earth. We must be aware of the global regenerative movement. One of the ways to participate in the change is by taking part in cultivating food in a resourceful way without creating waste. Organic gardening and Permaculture design are two systems that can accomplish the change needed to preserve the environment.

Taking from Buckminster Fuller’s adagio (message) “Think Globally – Act Locally” we paraphrase our mission statement to “Think Globally – Grow Locally”

Permaculture Nextdoor

Permaculture Nextdoor from Ruth Meghiddo on Vimeo.

The challenges facing our food systems are colossal. Every year, the demand for food rises, people flock to cities, climate change alters weather patterns. Uncertainty threatens the ability to get the healthy food we need. Our goal is to create sustainable opportunities in growing fresh local food wherever you live.

Urban farming ensures the future of cities by maintaining their connection with Nature

How can we contribute to the extreme challenges facing worldwide?
The practice of Permaculture Design (aka Ecological Design) deals with integrating systems such as growing food, health care, shelter, education, soil, water, and land use in a sustainable way. Permaculture ethics derives from respect for the Earth, care for people, and the creation of ecological and environmental stability for future generations.

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, 80% of the population in developed countries and 56% in less-developed countries will live in urban locations. Feeding all those people is becoming increasingly difficult if we rely solely on conventional agriculture by cultivating food in rural areas and transporting it into urban locations.  We must consider that the energy needs of towns and cities will also continue to grow as their populations do.

The planet needs growing sustainable food for the urban population.
People of all ages can grow a portion of food close to home and actively create a greener, healthier life.

Permaculture design is a roadmap to resilience: it helps create sustainable systems for an extended period. It is about placing the design elements together with the natural world. Permaculture provides a framework that consciously mimics the patterns found in Nature.

We draw from permaculture knowledge and methods to observe, analyze, and design opportunities for local environmental situations.

Cultivating food as forest gardens within the city will benefit the environment and the community value of its citizens. It will get more nutritious food at hand, fewer pollutants, less noise, less carbon traffic footprint, less parking areas!

Among many greens and vegetables, we grow arugula, kale, mustard greens, beets, celery, peppers, eggplants, cabbages, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflowers.

We grow green beans, peas, and cherry tomatoes on the light bamboo posts.

Adjacent to the area dedicated to everyday food production are the nitrogen fixers cover crops to provide friendly insect pollinators. They include borage, comfrey, clover, chicory, and many medicinal and culinary herbs, like chamomile, thyme, mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, sage, and rosemary.

As an integral part of the forest farm, the orchard has a variety of fruit trees; it thrives by an ample number of companion plants. In southern California, we can grow papaya, figs, avocado, cherimoya, apricots, peaches, pomegranate, lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.

Along the fence are espaliers growing fruit trees like apples and pears with blueberry and raspberry bushes underneath.

There is a space dedicated to food, music, and inspiring conversations for relaxation. It illustrates how a resilient model for a food forest can significantly pause the hectic city life, bringing home some peacefulness of the countryside.

We provide a personalized design solution for growing food sustainably.

The semicircular raised beds are dedicated to mentoring the young in the field. Children of any age can acquire permaculture thinking and practical skills to benefit the next generation.

The mindful garden farm can be enriched with dedicated animal husbandry, chickens, pygmy goats, and additional composting area.

It shows that we all can enjoy some pastime in Nature, contribute to a healthier lifestyle, and achieve a roadmap for climate change adaptation!

Permaculture Master-Planning

Permaculture design is moving into the mainstream at a rapid speed!

We face extreme challenges: Covid-19, economic disparity, depletion of natural resources, and the daunting Climate Change. In what way can each of us contribute to both our health and the health of Planet Earth?

The practice of permaculture master-planning deals with integrating systems such as growing food, health care, shelter, education, soil, land use, and security for all living things. Permaculture ethics is based on respect for the earth, care for the people, and fair share. We aim to create ecological and environmental harmony for future generations.

This project is about a site in the transition to becoming an example of a regenerative permaculture system. It will serve a community eager to participate in a genuine way that positively impacts the neighborhood. Equally important, children and youth can be stimulated to engage in outdoor learning and in understanding nature.

The goal is to create enthusiasm for an eco-friendly system and cultivate companion planting (guilds) with polyculture rather than monoculture. The permaculture master-planning system will include integrating food cultivation, fruit trees, medicinal and native plants, recreation areas, and animal husbandry.

Site Description

We maintained the general configuration of the site and provided cultivation for diverse functional spaces. Bordering to the area dedicated to everyday food production is supported by many medicinal and culinary herbs that provide friendly insect pollinators (#18).

In addition to a few existing fruit trees, we propose many orchard trees (#10, 12, 16, 17, 21) nourished by a large set of companion plants and recycled compost. On site, there are light structures, a pine grove (#22), citrus fruits (#16), mulberry, pomegranate (#17), olive trees, and other native plants (#20).

Additionally, the whole site shall be seeded with various nitrogen-fixing ground covers to regenerate and enrich the soil.

Amid the food production (#19), we have the Wander Path (#8) with resting seats that crosses over from the outdoor classrooms area (#7) and native plants (#20) to the retreat area (#23).

Encompassing these areas is a Discovery Path (#11) connecting the initial meeting area (#24) on one end to the gathering space (#2) for welcoming neighbors to share a fresh-made pizza from the oven.

The outdoor classrooms and gathering areas (#7) can become a magnet for connecting with the community. The site would be illuminated in the evening to encourage inclusive social interaction.

Both fences (#15) on the east entrance side and on the west side are used for vertical gardening with fruit espaliers, various berries, and pollinators underneath.

The area dedicated to animal husbandry, chickens and Pygmy goats (#4), is situated next to the Hügelkultur growing bed (#5) and additional compost area (#6).

We provide an underground 3k gal water tank (#13) to harvest the water from the adjacent run-off rain-cannel. The water will be pumped to all growing areas, with the energy supplied by the solar collectors (A, B, C).

Ideally, communities can provide available spaces that meet the needs for food cultivation, soil restoration, education, and contribution to the global concern of sustainability, by practicing permaculture. Children and adults will learn to enjoy nature and empower their neighborhood to become beautifully self-sustainable and bountiful.

Suppose we accept today’s global challenges together. In that case, Permaculture systems will be the solution for sustainability and nurturing communities and individuals alike.

Feel free to message us to continue this conversation. :]

View of the site, West to East, December 2020

Permaculture Design Project : 2012 Carmelitos Housing Apartments – Long Beach, CA

The Carmelitos project was initiated in 2012 and revised in 2019.

Carmelitos is a public housing community with high unemployment. It is situated on 68 acres in the City of Long Beach and managed by the Housing Authority of Los Angeles County. The average income per household is about $15,000 with a median age population of 25 years old, with a large number of at-risk youth.

Originally built in 1939 for military housing, today Carmelitos, with more than 2000 dwellers has a potential of a 1200 total workforce.
There are approx. 558 households in addition to 155 senior housing units:

  • 270 preschool children 0 – 4
  • 440 school age kids 5-14 (710 children)
  • 177 young adults 15-20
  • 583 basic workforce 20-44
  • 307 middle age 45-65 (1200 total workforce)
  • 140 seniors 65+


1938-39 Carmelitos General Layout
by Associated Housing Architects

In 2012 there are about 2000 dwellers living in the Carmelitos neighborhood

Vision: Create a long term self-reliant and sustainable eco-system for its residents, foster a sense of community and achieve a dynamic local economy. Inspire others to break the cycle of poverty and duplicate the model to become productive citizens.


  • An urban permaculture design to Carmelitos
  • Achieve economic security for its dwellers
  • Provide education and training for local improvements
  • Create a long term self-reliant and sustainable plan
  • Inspire to achieve a sense of community and place
  • Implement an outdoor healthy lifestyle and activities

Goal: The goal is to initiate new enterprises and jobs in Carmelitos: starting with providing leadership and training skills to create kitchen gardens for its residents including building earth ovens, small animals husbandry and children playgrounds. Then, create an array of jobs around productive orchards, a farmer’s market, rainwater-harvesting systems, use of solar energy, and also create various opportunities for celebrations and social events to bring in business.

The Basics of Permaculture

Envisioning a design system for an ecological and sustainable living by integrating the people with plants, animals, buildings, and community.

Permaculture is about productive economies: it teaches people communication skills about working together, outdoor healthy lifestyle activities and creating ecologically sound communities.

Permaculture stimulates the involvement of all residents with business opportunities throughout the community and with outdoor learning activities especially for keeping the young at-risk engaged with positive, social and productive activities on site.

The Strip Mall can become a commercial mixed-use center: shops, offices and a learning center can be included with other functions, in addition to a green, activated roof garden and solar panels. The weekly open Farmers’ Market on the street mall should be beneficial in serving the surrounding community.

Permaculture Approach

  • access to public open spaces
  • edible landscapes
  • events promenade
  • open markets
  • children’s outdoor classes
  • roof gardens on buildings
  • petting zoo
  • orchards and picnic areas
  • integrate seniors and children activities

Water Harvesting

Total roof area for Carmelitos is approx. one acre. 600 gallons per 1000 S.F make 27,000 gallons of water per inch of rain.
Run-off coefficient is 10% for evaporation and infiltration. Long Beach gets an estimated 13 inches of rain annually. 27,000 X13 =351,000 gallons per year -35,100 for 10% run-off Total: 319,500 gallons of water to store for irrigations in cisterns

In the year 2020, we could proudly observe a transformation that turned around Carmelitos from a passive to an active community by engaging its residents and particularly the youth in becoming active, productive citizens, by bringing a better quality of life to its residents and helping build a solid local economy.

The success of this project can become a model for others to follow.

A start up proposal for applying Permaculture concepts to Carmelitos should draw on a team of advisors, experts, organizers and the collaboration of the community leaders and local government.

A further detail plan should be developed including a viability demonstration project. Resources for launching such a proposition and grant opportunities should be investigated.

For more information on a permaculture design project in your area, contact us for a consultation.