The Functional Analysis is a tool which is used in permaculture design to map the needs, products and characteristics of resources we have available so that we can start to use them as elements within our system by seeking out functional relationships between each element.Simply put, it is a tool we use to help answer the question: How can we use what we have to create what we need?Students split into small teams and begin by listing the Needs (Inputs) / Characteristics / Products (Outputs/Functions) of an available resource - in this (somewhat infamous) example, a chicken:
Once the functional analysis for this resource is completed, another resource is selected and the functional analysis is conducted again. This is repeated again and again, until students have a list of elements which can be connected to each other to create functional relationships.By asking, 'How can the needs of one element in our system be met by the products/functions of another element within our system?', we can begin to tell the story of how these elements can work together to create a functioning system: the story of design.In other words, we are creating the beginning of a fully functional permaculture design.
Photo: Students from Vanuatu 2012 PDC present a simple 'story of design' integrating Coconuts, Cattle, Pigs, a Dog, and Taro.