I'd say, start at your doorstep. That means start small and close in, get successful in a small space where you can really focus your efforts, and then repeat those successes at larger scale and with variations. That would include (see, I can't stop) building up the soil with compost and mulch until it's so rich that plants explode out of it; stacking lots of plants into a small space, and putting the things you love, whether veggies, fruits, flowers, herbs, medicinal plants, or whatever, into that small space. That way you'll reward yourself for your efforts. Put your garden where you'll see it and where it's easy to take care of.
The next thing to do would be to find other people doing permaculture and learn from them. Permaculture is about relationships and connections, and that very much includes connections with other people. Permaculture is as much a point of view as it is a set of principles and techniques, and in a culture that focuses mostly on things instead of processes and relationships, it can sometimes be hard to wrap your mind around the interconnections that permaculture makes. Being with others who get it really helps.
Toby Hemenway wrote:
"That would include (see, I can't stop) building up the soil with compost and mulch until it's so rich that plants explode out of it; stacking lots of plants into a small space, and putting the things you love, whether veggies, fruits, flowers, herbs, medicinal plants, or whatever, into that small space. "
So would that theory exclude the making of raised beds? I am working at improving the soil here in suburban STL, but it's pretty miserable. So where I've had the best luck is in making raised beds and enriching the heck out of them.
I'm awaiting the arrival of a recycled black (to help warm) plastic raised bed from gardeners.com, but feel it may arrive at this rate sometime in the summer, which is not so great for my little garden which is, at the moment, in containers.
Any suggestions specifically for the new self-sustaining gardener of a raised bed?
I'm wondering if, while you are waiting for the raised bed material to arrive, you could create a smaller bed in the spot you have selected for it, with just soil for the border, and then build the raised bed around it, and add more soil to fill it out to the edges. Maybe that's impractical, but it would be a way to use the space and get things growing.