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Observe and Interact

Observation of the natural patterns and cycles of nature helps us to make better plans for our farms, houses, and gardens. A natural forest or ecosystem has its own patterns, diversity, and relationships between the land, water, plants, birds, and animals to achieve its balance and productivity. Each part of the system is connected and has its own functions as part of the whole system: a holistic design. We can imitate this approach on a house, farm, village, region, and even at national level! To interact in a sustainable, permaculture way is to work with the land’s natural patterns. It is also to work on a small scale and make sure it is successful and sustainable before working on a large scale.

It helps us learn by understanding things, such as:

• What works and what does not work and needs changing?

 • Why does the same plant grow better in one place rather than another?

• What are the natural patterns of the land, including soil and rock types, and water movement?

• What are the natural cycles of the environment and climate, and how do we work with not against them?

• Do patterns occur when pests attack plants: e.g. are some plants or groups of plants affected while others in different areas are not?

• Which plants and animals produce the best for the least effort?

• Where does the water run through the land, where does it naturally collect, and which areas stay wetter in the dry season?

• Where does the sun shine all day or part of the day, and where is it shady?


Observation of the land and its patterns provides you with a lot of information that is very important for achieving the most efficient and lowest waste-producing systems. Use it for continual improvement of land design and farming, agroforestry, family garden, and animal management.

Observation, including gathering local knowledge, is also important for houses, waste management, and creating renewable energy supplies.


Every problem we are faced with has a solution. Careful observation and fixing the cause not the effect of the problem is the key. This is combining observation and creativity to work with the land using sustainable strategies and techniques. Often, the problem becomes the solution: we just need to look at it in the right way! Problem areas of land all have natural solutions, but we have to work with not against the land and the climate. Good solutions make use of the problem, such as turning weeds into compost and mulch.

You can also create production and benefits from the solution:

 Example • Windbreaks to reduce strong wind problems provide shelter and increase production in the sheltered areas, but they can also provide nuts, oils, fruit, bamboo poles, medicines, mulch, and habitats for birds that reduce pest problems.

Think creatively and find solutions for the long term. An example is when drought-affected areas receive necessary food aid: it is a short-term solution and does not solve the problem. Only when people observe the whole system and look for the reasons why the crops have failed and why there is less rain will they find sustainable answers. People need to look at the water systems, the surrounding vegetation, the farming systems, and what they are growing. Then the basic, priority problems can be solved, and real solutions can be achieved.


It’s a wonderful open-source practical permaculture reference guide book with 2000 beautiful illustrations and comprehensive language which enables even a beginner to understand the permaculture design, food sovereignty, and environmental regeneration strategies and techniques. The vision of this project is to make knowledge comprehensible and accessible for everyone to accelerate sustainable practices in every corner of the world. It is especially useful when working with poor, low literacy, and disadvantaged communities and schools.

This edition was developed from the Permaculture Guidebook from Timor-Leste produced in 2008 and published by Permatil (Permaculture Timor Leste-NGO). It is used by farmers, families, community groups, government departments, schools, universities, agricultural colleges, and NGOs in Timor Leste, and re-used and translated in more than 10 countries.

Please find the link below to download this book and learn more about their work on their website

Observe and Interact: About
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