A Permaculture Design Process Wheel

By Charles A. Laurel

Inspired by Dave Jacke, Jon Young, and Mark Morey


Where are we going? How does it feel to be there? What qualities of life are present? Vision is wildly imaginative, unhindered by practical concerns. (East)


Identify specific outcomes inherent in the vision. Spend time crafting goals that express what we want to put our life energy toward. Express Goals in present tense active voice. Resist the urge to strategize; that comes later. (Southeast)


What is the current state of affairs? What are our resources? What skills do we bring? What are the ingredients for the meal? (Not the recipe, that comes later). (South)


Based on a thorough assessment. What’s the recipe? Do we have the right ingredients? Can we achieve our goals with what we have? What do we lack? Can we get what we lack? (Southwest)

Preliminary Design:

Employ design principles and map out relationships. Sketch out several scenarios outlining how we can meet our goals with what we have available and attainable. Then start focusing on the best idea, perhaps utilizing elements of the other scenarios. Preliminary budgets happen here. Pull it all together. (West)

Reality Check:

Are the goals achievable? Preliminary budgets check out? People committed to tasks? Does everyone agree that the goals are achievable? Should we re-craft our goals to better address the vision? Should we consult with the elders (or experts or consultants)? (Northwest)

Final Design:

We have consensus. We have goals and strategies. We have resources and we have a plan outlining multiple mutually beneficial relationships that we can create using what we have or can get. We see potentials for regenerativity. We joyfully move into implementation. (North)

Gratitude and Mystery:

Everything begins and ends in mystery and all ends are beginnings, etc. We are grateful. (Northeast)

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Simple Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-based

Misc. notes on design process:

    • Not necessarily sequential; steps overlap and go back and forth, but it’s good to know where you are.
    • I reversed the terms “analysis” and “assessment” in order to be consistent with Dave Jacke’s usage.
    • Avoid premature reality check-keep possibilities open.
    • Employ permaculture design principles throughout, especially in preliminary design.
    • North-South relations: Big picture and attending to details.
    • East-West relations: High flying creativity and grounded creativity.
    • Southeast-Northwest relations: Reality check may necessitate changing goals (while honoring the vision).
    • Southwest-Northeast: Gratitude for what we have and what we can do with it all. Appreciating the mystery.