I've been finding the introductory materials about permaculture to be both overwhelming and exciting. On the one hand, it seems a huge feat to actually create interdependent design that takes into account constraints and possibilities of a given site, efficiently uses energy in a feedback loop, and treats the land and animals (including people) as subjects rather than simply objects to extract value from--and yet one must grow and possibly sell food and other raw materials as well. On the other hand, I am excited by the emphasis on an ethic that takes into account the well-being and thriving of human and non-human actors and ultimately rests upon interdependence--ideally through mutually beneficial relationships--rather than one-way processes based on maximum extraction and growth. It is also a system that is flexible and responsive, while being practically grounded in ecological, horticultural, and agricultural knowledge. As a former cultural anthropologist, I appreciate that it offers a bottom-up approach that relies on local, intimate knowledge of place in order to be successful.
I appreciate that permaculture depends on good design and isn't simply about having some fruit trees, a pollinator garden and rain barrels. That said, I like what Steve Gabriel said about it being a process (ever-deepening one), and in this sense can one ever say that a permaculture site is "done" or "perfect"? Like an ecosystem, it isn't static.
I suppose the above paragraphs show what I do and don't understand about Permaculture thus far.
Some of what I've been learning about permaculture reminds me of what I've read in ecofeminist literature, ecologically-minded gardening practices that take into account the life-cycles of insects and other animals, and readings in ecological anthropology that question western assumptions about "human vs nature" and address issues of environmental justice.