in my own words: permaculture is planning your space and lifestyle, whether in a city or a field, using as little energy and resources as possible to achieve your aims, and being imaginative in order to turn problems into something positive – all the time being aware of the effect that your plan has on the health of the planet, on other people, and always considering whether you are working within your fair share of the world’s resources.
During the first two hours of my first permaculture workshop back in 2011 with Alfred Decker, we were given some of the key “principles of permaculture” such as:
1) look for beneficial relationships within a system and make the most of them
2) find the way to have the greatest effect by the least effort/change (mulching!!!)
3) seek, use and encourage diversity (don’t put all your eggs in one basket)
4) use living systems – bacteria can clean our water just as well as energy guzzling machines, if we re-think it a bit.
(but the great thing is that permaculture is just an umbrella term for many different ways of applying these principles, and there are many more that weren’t mentioned. I mean it basically seems to mean thinking about what you are doing!)
Here is a great website with a better introduction to permaculture : http://www.youthinpermaculture.org/index.php/about-yip/what-is-permaculture