Friday, March 27, 2009


It's unbelievable that I have managed to not discuss guilds, the quintessential permaculture concept, for so long on this blog! We have discussed them indirectly by considering beneficial interdependence, sunlight harvesting, and complex systems with multifunctional components. But, without any more delay:

Simply put, a guild is a combination of plants and animals, where each plant or animal performs one or more beneficial functions. As these plants and animals are selected to fulfill each others' requirements, the system becomes almost entirely self-managing, requiring no external inputs and very little labor apart from harvesting.

I've found a couple of very well written descriptions of guilds, so let me just quote from them -

Stacia and Kristof Nordin of NeverendingFood write:

A good Permaculture guild generally has seven components:
  • Food for us
  • Food for the soil
  • Diggers/Miners
  • Ground Cover
  • Climbers
  • Supporters
  • Protectors
Read their full description here.

Meg Howe and Graeme Young of Small Farm Permaculture and Sustainable Living describe guilds as:
A guild in Permaculture landscape design is a harmonious assembly of species (plant or animal) physically associated with a central plant or animal species to provide it with some benefit.

The range of benefits that can be derived from guild species include:
  • Providing mulch
  • Offering shelter and protection from frost, wind or sun
  • Hosting predators
  • Remove pest habitat
  • Prey on or deter pests
  • Killing root parasites or pests
  • Providing nutrients
  • Facilitating root penetration
Read their full description here.



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