Holistic research of holistic practice

This paper examines some of the issues that arise when we want to use research to develop, and to demonstrate, the effectiveness of permaculture practices in their actual application.  Many of the benefits that are experienced are hard to measure using standard horticultural research techniques. For example, the standard procedure of isolating variables is particularly problematic when the important practices are those of integration and working with whole systems.   Rejecting research as simply inappropriate for permaculture jeopardises the possibility of spreading useful practices as widely as possible. What is needed is to find a research methodology and practical methods that can produce communicable results without compromising the nature of the permaculture approach. This paper will go on to look at the benefits and challenges of using the principles of permaculture to shape such as methodology.


Isis is the Head of Faculty for Environment and Transdisciplinary Studies at Crossfields Institute. She teaches on the MSc Researching Holistic Approaches to Agroecology.


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