Prepping and Permaculture: Are they Compatible?

Prepping and Permaculture: Are they Compatible?

Preparedness or “prepping” is very popular these days. Back in the 80s we called this survivalism, but it’s essentially the same.

Many people think of survivalists as those crazy tin-hat-wearing, gun-toting, surviving in the woods with only a pocket knife kind of people. Those people do still exist and do behave like that.

But more and more, average people are realizing that interruptions in systems of supply for food, power and water can cause them and their families to suffer.

The supply interruption could be caused by a natural disaster, terrorist attack, trucker’s or worker’s strike, or simple malfunctions in electrical equipment that drops grid power in multiple states.

All of these disasters have happened in recent memory. It doesn’t matter what caused it, and it’s a good idea to prepare at least a little for these interruptions.

And they’re starting to see that if they just have a few items ready, what could have been very uncomfortable situation into an enjoyable indoor camping trip.

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Prepping isn’t permaculture?

Now, if you question that permaculture and prepping are related and compatible, consider this:

What would you call someone who “prepared” to have food 10 years in the future, and they chose to do it by planting a sustainable, permaculture orchard with a fruit and nut tree food forest?

Would you call them a permaculturist? Or maybe you could call them a prepper? I would call those actions both sustainable and smart prepping.

Did you know that you have to eat food to survive?

It’s shocking I know, but most people eat food multiple times per day.

Prepping and Permaculture: Are they Compatible?The prepper and permaculture mindsets are very close in terms of planning for the future. Now, depending on the survivalist, they may tend to buy long-term storage freeze-dried or packaged foods, instead of planting trees.

But if all your eggs are in that one basket and the basket breaks, i.e. the basement floods or the house catches fire, what do you have to rely on to eat? Not your stored food, that’s for sure.

On the flip side, consider a prepper who is waiting years for trees to develop fruit, but has no short-term stored food of his own. This is foolish. Don’t be that guy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to store food. We do canning of tomatoes, peaches and other veggies and fruits to last the winter.

But I am saying that you need to diversify your investments.

Essentially, you need to provide for all your survival needs. These include:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Fire/Energy
  • Security/Safety
  • Health & Sanitation

Survivalism and Sustainable Agriculture

If you want to survive a hazardous supply interruption incident, you need food (and other supplies, of course). But if you want your children and grandchildren to thrive to adulthood, you need to have sustainable systems in place that will feed them for years to come.

Another way to think about it is that prepping/survivalism is the short view of food security, while a sustainable system (permaculture) is the long view of food security.

See how they fit together? Prepping and permaculture really are complementary and compatible concepts.

Permaculturists Need To Be Preppers

In my view, people designing with permaculture tend to take longer views of design and life in general, which is great. But they may fall short in being prepared for everyday misfortunes.

Unless you’re running a fully independent business, most of us have a job that we could lose at any moment, especially in this current economic environment.

And even if you do have a business, your clients or customers may not be able to buy from you, or not have projects for you, or you may get hurt and become unable to work at all.

I say this not to scare you, but to help you realize how quickly life circumstances can change. If you have food stored up, and some cash reserves, losing a job or getting hurt will be less stressful.

If you have no backup plan and you must work tomorrow or your children will starve, that’s a bad situation.

If we compare this to golfing, you may have the long game figured out, but if you can’t putt, you’re not going to do well.

However, if you put the prepper ideas with the permaculture mindset, you’ve got a winning combination.

May you live in interesting times

I think it’s pretty obvious that being more secure in your finances and having the ability to feed yourself and family is a good idea. But there’s a few events that have definitely helped increase interest in prepping as a normal lifestyle:

  • Greece’s financial issues
  • Europe’s banking problems
  • U.S. mortgage slow crash (still ongoing and bigger than ever)
  • Middle East craziness
  • North Korea craziness
  • China & Russia craziness
  • General world craziness!

A solution

So with all of that potential badness out there, what’s a person to do?

Short Term

First, put some cash away for emergencies, $500 to $1000. Keep it in a safe place (no, not in your dresser in the master bedroom).

Get together critical documents like birth certificates, social security cards, and passports.

Put all of these in a fire-proof safe that’s secured to the wall or floor.

Start building up your food and water storage

And lots more in this episode at The Survival Podcast.

Long Term

Create some type of business that you can support yourself with. This will result in more stability than you will get with a job.

Start learning skills like gardening, food preservation, construction, and animal husbandry.

If you would rather live in a rural area, save up money to buy a place.

Think about what part of the country you want to live in, and what you will have in terms of reliable power, natural rainfall, and government interference. This is a huge topic and one with many considerations.

Design and build a sustainable food production system. This will likely involve animals like chickens, ducks, goats or cows, as well as an annual vegetable garden and perennial food forest.

Most importantly make sure you have all of your survival needs covered, at the same level.

It does no good to have 5 years of food but only a week’s worth of water.


There are lots of reasons to be prepared, and most of them you can’t control.

But don’t panic or freak out. Do what you need to, to keep your family safe.

Consider the short and long term solutions to supply interruptions. Create your own sustainable systems to supply your family’s needs.



OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about herbs for health, cooking with herbs, sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.

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