Stick with me, in case you think I'm overthinking this.
My son recently started playing a game on the iPad called Little Alchemy, which he enjoys a lot. Players start with the four primal elements, earth, air, fire, and water, and must combine them to create new elements.
fire + air = energy fire + water = steam
fire + earth = lava
lava + water = obsidian
Lava + earth = volcano
earth + earth = pressure
And so on. Each new element unlocks further elements and more complex combinations of two elements until eventually you get to formulas like:
corpse + electricity = Frankenstein
sword + electricity =light saber, + human = Jedi, + lava = Darth Vader
And so on.
*nerd alert* You could make a sort factor tree where:
perfume = alcohol + rose Rose = flower + love
flower = plant + garden
plant = rain + earth
rain = water + cloud
cloud = air + steam
steam = water + fire
And then further reduce each of the other elements (alcohol, love, garden) down to their core elements earth, air, fire, and water, until eventually you could create a mathematical formula using only those four to create perfume.
As a game, I really appreciate how it visually combines ideas to create other representative concepts and "explain" to kids how certain inventions came about.
As I try to help my son discover new combinations in the game, I catch myself thinking about whether concepts related to permaculture can be explained or described so simply:
wood + soil = Hügelkultur
shovel + level = contour swale Aquaponics - electricity = chinampa
Fire + air pressure + stone = RMH
The point is not accuracy, but simplicity. How many concepts can you explain with as few words as possible?
I like the idea. Also, each plant requires different amounts of elemental forces for it to thrive (soil type, wind movement, water table, sunlight, etc). I imagine someone could work up a much more extensive system if they had expertise with permaculture, Chinese medicine, and biodynamics.