Permaculture wiki

Appropedia is, among many other things, a wiki for permaculture. It is the main active wiki creating an expanding body of permaculture knowledge and related wisdom.

Overview of permaculture wikisEdit

There are many wikis with resources useful to permaculture. Green wikis or more general wikis, such as Wikipedia or Appropedia, are a mine of information about plant, species, green building and appropriate technology as well as food cultivation. In Appropedia, the question of appropriateness is also central.(appropriate technology and the importance of context in questions sustainability, food production and development).

Global wikisEdit

  • Appropedia (see the permaculture pages for a start.): Covers all relevant areas such as green building and appropriate technology as well as food growing. There is analysis of the question of appropriateness, i.e. context, which is central to permaculture.
  • PermaWiki on Wikia: Some activity.[1]
  • Offline - this is to be merged into Appropedia (agreed in mid-2012, but extended efforts led to the conclusion that the database was corrupted and apparently no backups had been made.[2]
  • The PCWiki (currently locked): This predated, and was offline for an extended period; this co-created work was accessible again in late 2012, with editing disabled to prevent further spam. As of early 2015 the Knowledge Base hosted by the Permaculture Association appears to incorporate much of PCWiki content.
  • Practical Plants: Inactive. A plant database built with Semantic MediaWiki and ported data from Plant for a Future. Highly functional.
  • Edible Forest Garden Wiki: Active as of early 2015. A database focused on temperate, perennial food plants, but with plans to expand its scope. More focused on personal experiences than hard data.
  • Permaculture Resource - occasional activity
  • PermaGround - infrequent updates

The largest and only ongoing wiki focused only on permaculture as a whole is PermaWiki, at - it has 229 pages,[3] but very little activity.[1]

Localized or internal wikisEdit

Many wikis with focus on locality, a group or internal coordination exist also. These include:

Related wikisEdit

Furthermore, some wiki's may focus on an area which is of interested to permaculture, without being exclusively permaculture oriented. These include:

  • Practical Plants A collaboratively edited plant encyclopedia and database with a strong focus on the practical: edible, material and medicinal uses, design functions, guilds/polycultures and plant interactions. Over 7000 articles with complete data.

Appropedia as the permaculture wikiEdit

The most common perception of Appropedia is as an appropriate technology wiki, and this is true at least to the extent that it is about what is appropriate to the social, ecological and financial context. This also describes permaculture, and so it could just as easily be called a permaculture wiki.

Think globally: A call to collaborationEdit

Permaculture is focused on acting locally - thus it's not surprising that there are many locally-based permaculture websites, and this is probably a good thing.

In terms of a wiki for knowledge-sharing, however, this is definitely a case for thinking globally. It's an extremely rare community that has a member with the knowledge of a Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton or other permaculture pioneer. Even in those cases, the wisest of individuals benefit from collective knowledge (much like "standing on the shoulder of giants," to adapt Newton's words to the wisdom of communities).

It is also a rare community that has even one obsessive wiki admin/contributor, let alone the half dozen or more that are needed to make a successful wiki.

Many permaculture wikisEdit

Many efforts have been made to make a permaculture wiki - do an internet search for "permaculture wiki" and you'll see how true this is.[5] However, making a successful wiki is hard, and most of these wikis are dormant, while a handful have a small amount of activity. This is unfortunate, as each site represents an island, a small isolated community and a fragmented knowledge base.

The only active wiki creating an expanding body of permaculture knowledge and related wisdom is Appropedia. Its broad focus, with extensive examples of appropriate technology and natural building, is consistent with the all-encompassing nature of permaculture.

See also Green wikis and development wikis - a more detailed comparison can be found there. Search the page (ctrl-F in most browsers) for permaculture and use the sortable table on that page to find the most active wikis, or the wikis with the most pages. Some great efforts have been made; however, isolation is a killer.

See also Wiki synergy.

Ideas for structureEdit

Site structure: page types and categoriesEdit

An interesting perspective comes from the post below. It may not be too different from Appropedia's structure - we will see. The nature of a wiki is that it evolves, and while the structure takes work and forethought, can be changed over time.

Start a Wiki, where the front page is a Human, and we list all the things a Human needs and All it's byproducts. Those are all links, and we follow those to pages set up about those needs. A page like, say, heat, or food. A "product" page. On a Product page, we generally describe the product, and then list what things need that, and what other things provide that. Those links go to "Component" pages, which describes a part of a system, like a chicken or a compost toilet, and what it's inputs and outputs are. Those of course link out to more product pages....

The goal here would be to have a constantly expanding design tool. When designing a permaculture system, you could use this wiki to look up what various components of your system require, and choose from lists of things that provide those needs or use the byproducts.

Like any wiki, this needs a large base of knowledgeable users to get working. My instinct says to start with the Human page and work outward. Does this tool interest anybody? Would anyone be willing to help me on this project? - Andrew Jensen on GlobalSwadeshi.

Let's compare this with the current Topic structure of Appropedia - considering the Topics category to be the "Human":

The basic topics are very similar to those described, but the perspective of human needs does give some clarity for reordering and renaming - e.g. "Construction and materials" could become "Habitation" (better than "Shelter" as it's about more than a bare physical need). "Knowledge" may lie outside this framework as it is a means to meeting human needs more than a need in itself. These are arguable of course.

The distinction between "Products" and "Components" might be a useful one in organizing the pages. This might become more useful as semantic tools are added to the wiki.

Elements, inputs, outputsEdit

Lucas responded:

The wiki you suggest, if I get it right, or at least that was my idea and why I like yours, would be centered around the elements used in designs: I already have chicken, what else could I add and how could they be part of the system in my backyard? [1]

Lonny responded:

I think that this would work great on Appropedia as a template. It could have some permaculture imagery and two columns: Input and Output that would be easily editable. In this way any page could have listed its needed inputs and delivered outputs.

To get a better idea see the new (temporary) permaculture box at Chicken basics. You can edit the list by clicking Input or Output. This could be made much prettier and more automated... just wanted to give an idea.

All that said an interface like the Visual Thesaurus, but editable and free, would be very, very cool.


I can add the "designs it's used in box", which will fit nicely across the bottom of the template. We can also semiautomate the adding of the templates to pages.[2][3]
This (used in and templetization) is now done by a template called {{Permaculture}} as shown on Chicken basics. --Lonny 08:05, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Check the latest version of that test box at Chicken basics#External links. Note that the parameters are stored on separated subpages for each of Input, Output and Used In. (This might not be needed when semantic features are added...?)

There are some concrete ideas to work with. The key is to add knowledge to the wiki, and adapt these technical features as we go, to help make it work and fit together better.

As for the call to get started on this project: We have begun. Who will join us, and make it real?

"Open Source Permaculture" 2012Edit

A successful fundraiser under the title of Open Source Permaculture, run in the early part of 2012, promised an open licensed ebook and a permaculture wiki. The fundraisers had no experience with wikis, but discussions during the fundraiser led to an agreement to work with Appropedia.

However, after the fundraiser (which raised more than US$15,000) the lead fundraiser disappeared and none of the promises were delivered.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1 edit in 30 days recorded at 24 Nov 2010; 3 edits in 30 days recorded at 20 May 2012.Edits in 30d
  2. Server was down for some months in 2009/2010 - then online in late 2010, but 4 edits in 30 days recorded at 24 Nov 2010, and those were spam.Edits in 30d. Offline again in 2011-2012.
  3. PermaWiki statistics page
  4. The Chaordic Permaculture Institute Pilot (Recent Changes is being transferred to Google Sites, as of 2011, but this is incomplete. Recent site activity at the new site
  5. E.g. see this list

See alsoEdit

Interwiki linksEdit