Permaculture garden

Appropedia is creating an expanding body of knowledge regarding "appropriate" technology, development and living, which includes permaculture.

Overview of permaculture wikis[edit | edit source]

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.

Global wikis[edit | edit source]

  • 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 (Apois Institute Wiki): Mission states "share experience and knowledge about perennial crop polyculture systems for all climates." 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 wikis[edit | edit source]

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

Related wikis[edit | edit source]

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 wiki[edit | edit source]

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 collaboration[edit | edit source]

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 wikis[edit | edit source]

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 structure[edit | edit source]

Site structure: page types and categories[edit | edit source]

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, outputs[edit | edit source]

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" 2012[edit | edit source]

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.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  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 also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

I think there are two potential types of tool being considered:

My feeling is that Appropedia is fine for the former, but would be hard to do with the latter, which suggests a more specific web app/tool to me. That's where the richer APIs of Freebase or something like that could be more advantageous. Pmackay

Thanks. I'm kind of agnostic on this specific question, but my real interest is in the wiki. If we can have structured data (and we can) then that makes the wiki more awesome, while keeping all the strengths of a wiki, and the strength of an existing community. (It's disturbing at how often some new project comes along saying "Hey, here's an idea - let's build a permaculture wiki!" or something like that. And falls over because making a successful new wiki is harder than they realized.)
I'd like to know specifically what you think might be richer in the Freebase API. That's not meant as a challenge - just wanting to understand. Putting my cards/inclinations on the table and looking for the next step in the analysis. --Chriswaterguy 09:14, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
The Freebase API is pretty comprehensive in being able to query the graph structure of Freebase. I'm not sure I am yet able to say what might be richer, as if we are comparing with the SMW API I dont know enough about that to give a thorough analysis. The pages I've seen about those extensions suggest it is in an alpha state. My thoughts around this are more inclined towards the web tool side of it, something that can be much more dynamic and exploratory. Something more like I feel there is lots of text about permaculture (I have a fair collection of books) but more could be done to make it condensed and easier to absorb, particularly for people who aren't permaculturists.
Freebase also has a facility for defining links to other web resources about a topic in a structured way. Perhaps Freebase could be enhanced to include links where relevant to Appropedia topics. I've also thought about this for Plants For A Future entries. Pmackay 11:11, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
IIUC, SMW is considered stable for small to medium wikis (including wikis much bigger than Appropedia) but isn't considered ready for prime time on Wikimedia sites (which range from big to gigantic).
Who would you see using a Freebase permaculture tool? I'm thinking about how intelligible it would be to regular permaculture people with basic computer literacy - I don't know Freebase enough to judge. Another key question is who would join the project, and how the community would develop.
I like the concept. At a glance, I'm guessing it's a nicer looking and more graphical UI than SMW could be, & maybe nicer than Freebase.
If we couldn't do the desired interface in SMW, maybe the API would enable a nice external UI to use the structured data from the wiki? --Chriswaterguy 11:56, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
Just to clarify, I wouldnt consider Freebase itself to be a very usable interface, except for basic data entry and checking. Its designed to be a web front end for the database. The tool I'm imagining would need a custom interface to facilitate the kinds of interactions permaculturalists and others might need to do. So to your last point, my question is what API might best suit such a tool and what database/wiki might be best to build the information in :-) Pmackay 14:18, 28 March 2012 (PDT)[edit source]

I'm wondering how far along the merging from got. I'm exploring around it a bit on, and it looks like there's a lot of the content left to import. Would it be alright if started importing the pages? Is there a systematic way to go about this? I assume the markup will be about the same, since it uses MediaWiki. --Ethan (talk) 18:37, 6 April 2014 (PDT)

Thanks Ethan!
Update: We had problems with the old database files being corrupted, and volunteer developers not having time to resolve it. We've now got Alex (our new dev) working on this, as well as our merger with I've just emailed her to ask where it is on the to-do list. If we can't recover it, then is definitely the way to go. Whatever way we do it, we'd love your help.
How about we revisit this in a week? Thanks again. --Chriswaterguy (talk) 20:05, 6 April 2014 (PDT)
Update: we've tried to get more up-to-date backups of the old server, but it looks like there's nothing there. After we confirm this, Alex will see what can salvage from the files we have, and then I think it will be time to start salvaging pages from --Chriswaterguy (talk) 19:08, 25 April 2014 (PDT)

Recovering old permaculture wiki pages from[edit source]

Unfortunately, it was impossible to get anything from the server. Now we run with Ethan's suggestion to recover some of the pages from (see the last successful archive of the main page). Who is interested in making this happen?

I suggest moving across anything with any lasting value, leaving behind anything to do with the organisation or admin on (If anyone needs that info, it will still be there on [Edited to add: track pages added here. Instructions given on that page. --Chriswaterguy (talk) 15:56, 24 November 2014 (PST)

I just saw your post on Permies the other day. I brought over a few pages, most notably Guild. Digging around a bit, there doesn't appear to be a whole lot on there. The bulk of articles appear to be individual plant profiles, derived from Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Great Lakes by Thomas A. Naegele. It's not clear to me what permission the admins had from the author to post them, and whether that could be extended to this wiki. If we do want to grab those, I suspect there's a more automated way we could go about that. The other articles such as Chickens will need a human to intelligently merge them into the existing articles here.
I went ahead and made a basic template for articles from PC Info: Template:PermacultureInfo . I think that's a decent way to give credit.

--Ethan (talk) 09:32, 5 March 2015 (PST)

Thanks Ethan, that's awesome! --Chriswaterguy (talk) 02:15, 6 March 2015 (PST)
Awesome! --Lonny (talk) 19:21, 20 April 2015 (PDT)

It's becoming clear to me that PCinfo's strength was not its content, but its organization. The site founders built a very thorough, unparalleled frame-work which never got fleshed out. There were some Ecoregion categories (based on: which included PC sites, but could have been expanded to include species' native/ introduced ranges. There was a fairly comprehensive selection of empty pages about different soil types (can't find a URL just now). They also made some creative use of namespace. I made up an organization scheme on my user page based on this one: . Some or all of the above might be incorporated into Appropedia's organization scheme, but in the short term I just want a visual map to see what kinds of content is lacking here. --Ethan (talk) 13:32, 13 May 2015 (PDT)

It's as finished as it's likely ever to be. There were a bunch of good articles brought over, but the majority of available articles were not imported due to copyright issues. There were about 20 articles about organizations which just contained copied-and-pasted text from the organizations' websites. There were also about 50 articles on plant species which were derived from Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Great Lakes Region by D.O. Thomas A. Naegele. I tried to get in contact with Dr. Naegele to see if got permission to use his material, and whether we would be able to have that permission as well. I received no response. There were also a few one-line articles pointing to online resources and books. Not really worthy of independent articles as they were, but I might incorporate them in something like the Podcasts list. --Ethan (talk) 04:35, 6 October 2015 (PDT)


This entire section was copied from PermaWiki. Food for thought. --Ethan (talk) 03:23, 3 November 2015 (PST)

(the below copied from a post to the international permaculture list raises many of the issues around designing and developing this wiki into a strong and coherent and most importantly useful permaculture resource. It would be great to have some discussion of this on the talk pages)

>Rich wrote: > >If I were to implement this, I'd just use an off the shelf wiki, and >write a documentation convention for how to format a page. Say > >This would need very little setting up, it could be done in a day. >It would meet the need of most users, who basically just want to read >things. > >

Rich's comments are compelling. I am not sure we have yet described a cohesive cyber-animal. I think we could examine this from the existing 'permawiki' as a point of reference. It is a valid attempt to create a conceptual network. What functions does it serve or not serve? ( Is it evolving as envisioned or hoped?

I think the colaborative writing opportunities in a wiki are very powerful. What I mistrust is that the overall structure of the wiki lacks form. In other words... the whole is less than the sum of its parts. However, I am not convinced that a step up in complexity is necessary, but rather a better organization of the wiki concept may serve the purpose.

I'd propose that this is due to to flaws: the 'pages' of a wiki are not classifiable, nor are the ways that wikis connect with each other clearly classified.

Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language stands out as a stellar example of a dynamic user-engaging presentation of complex design theory. If something of that power could be constructed for a permaculture we would be on to something. Why does it work so well?

The structure of each "Alexander Pattern" is fairly constant. The pattern is connected to larger scale patterns, an argument for the importance of the pattern is made, the argument is discussed, the critical characteristics of the proposed pattern are summarized, and the pattern is linked to the most relevant smaller scale patterns. Rich's reference to a documentation convention may be a solution.

Each Alexander pattern is roughly located on a 'scale' axis -- from large scale patterns to small scale patterns. Wikis are not organized along some critical axis in this way. Can a category be assigned to a wiki page along a scale continuum (landscape > Site > guild), and this axis be used to organize total content?

Each Alexander Pattern is the same kind of animal... it is a pattern describing a spatial arrangement of an element or elements. Permawiki contains a whole zoo full of animals -- some oink and some fly. Some of them could qualify as 'design elements' (CHICKEN or FRUIT TREE) while others are concepts (ZONES or KEYLINE) while others are actual design patterns (HERB SPIRAL or APPLE GUILD). Can a wiki either be narrowed to one type of page, or have pages labeled so that they can be observed in groups of similar pages.. A network of concepts, a network of design patterns...

The linkages between these each 'wiki' are only defined by the text surrounding the hyperlinked word. There is no convention for how concept/elements link to eachother. Structuring the discussion of how on pattern relates to another may be the critical link.

Here'd be my list of goals for a permaculture wiki[edit source]

  • The wiki helps a person identify interactions between elements to

develop new and unique patterns. This can happen at various scales... linking systems accross a landscape, or elements within a site, or guilds within a vegetation mosaic.

  • The wiki allows a person to change scale or stay within the same scale

consciously, and stay on topic. If the reader is interested in reflecting on concepts, they can follow that path.. if they are deadset on thinking about constructing guilds they can wander at that level.

  • the wiki references high-quality sources of information, but does not

attempt to contain all information within itself - the function of the wiki is to describe linkages between elements, and design solutions that integrate multiple linkages. Public domain PDF's could be linked within the server.

  • wiki pages would be peer reviewed, and elevated as 'high quality

drafts -- the whole wiki could be publishable as a PDF edition by using consistent formating and large scale information structures.

  • In terms of A wiki page should be as short as possible while serving

the function on fitting the concept, pattern or element into the whole. I once had a professor who always gave us profound essay questions and then limited the response to two pages double spaced 12 point font. It was brutal, and took twice as long as spewing out 10 pages of text. To achieve this the function of an information unit (a wiki page) has to be clear as possible.

Permies wiki?[edit source] this is now a dead link. Can't find any wiki in the site anymore... Moribund (talk) 14:47, 13 February 2019 (PST)

Hmmm. The link is working for me. In order to access the wiki, one must email and promise to post a certain amount as part of their work-trade option. --Lonny (talk) 21:22, 14 February 2019 (PST)
Sorry, I pasted the wrong link, I meant to say is 404. Moribund (talk) 13:47, 15 February 2019 (PST)
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