My Top 10 (or so) Permaculture Books

In no particular order….

Introduction to permaculture, Bill MollisonIntroduction to Permaculture – Bill Mollison

This was my first permaculture book. It is a great ‘quick’ introduction. It covers everything in enough detail to understand the scope of permaculture and start applying the concepts to your own designs and projects.

Permaculture Designer's ManualPermaculture Designers Manual – Bill Mollison

I spent a couple months alone care-taking Gabriel Howearth’s permaculture property in Baja, Mexico. I decided that in my down time I would read the Manual cover to cover. Though more than 35 years old, this book covers all of it, it is the original Designer’s Manual. What it lacks in documented case studies and application, it makes up for in brilliant forethought and conceptual framework.

Meilodora 10 Years of Sustainability, David HolmgrenMeliodora 10 years of Sustainability – David Holmgren

I read this book while interning at Rainbow Valley Farm, the permaculture project of Trish Allen and her late husband  Joe Polaischer. I had several PDC’s under my belt, a teacher training and 6 months of hand’s on permaculture interning, but this book totally changed my relationship to permaculture.  It is the ultimate example of a home scale permaculture design, put into practice and reflected upon over the duration of 10 years. After reading it I immediately contacted David Holmgren to beg for an internship. He accepted and I had the amazing good fortune to visit his farm, 10 years after he wrote this book, which was written 10 years after he designed and built his farm.

Permaculture Principles and Pathways, David HolmgrenPrinciples and Pathways Beyond Sustainability – David Holmgren

Spending time on David Holmgren’s farm I got a glimpse of the massive amount of thinking and experience that went into this book. Each paragraph takes a moment of reflection, it is not a casual read.

Gaia's Garden, Toby HemmenwayGaia’s Garden – Toby Hemenway

Possibly the most accessible permaculture book out there. This one comes at permaculture from the perspective of a home-scale garden. It is both entertaining and informative and my go-to book to teach out of for intro gardening courses.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and BeyondRainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond – Brad Lancaster (both volumes)

Volume 1 is more theory and volume 2 is more practice, design and technique. Both are excellent resources for thinking and designing around water systems, essential reads for anyone who uses water.

Teaming With Microbes, Soil Food WebTeaming with Microbes – Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewi

A friendly yet advanced leap into the soil-food-web. I re-read this one all the time to hone up on my soil science, biology and chemistry. I do believe this book would be the most beneficial book for any gardener to read.

One Straw RevolutionOne Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka

The classic that flipped agricultural thinking and production on its head and returns to natural farming. Mr. Fukuoka set out to prove that his style of organics could be more productive and cheaper than conventional farming. He succeeded. I am still experimenting and attempting to adapt his thought processes to my climate and plants.

Tree Crops a Permanent Agriculture, J Russel SmithTree Crops a Permanent Agriculture – J. Russel Smith

The original permaculture book, before permaculture was invented. 1950’s era progressive thinking on establishing perennial systems as a major factor of agriculture. Maybe even more relevant today.

Edible Forest GardensEdible Forest Gardens – Davie Jacke

While I haven’t made it cover to cover, this two volume set is the bible for humid, temperate forest gardens. It is less applicable to desert conditions, however is still an excellent resource for inspiring a new way of gardening.

The Earth Care ManualThe Earth Care Manual – Patrick Whitefield

Mr. Whiefield’s version of the Designer’s Manual. I find his perspective and writing on the design process second to none.

Sepp Holzer's PermacultureSepp Holzer’s Permaculture  – Sepp Holzer

Mr. Holzer developed his farming style at the same time as Bill Mollison and David Holmgren were putting together the first permaculture books. The fact that he arrived at a very similar set of ethics, principles and techniques says a lot for the universality and accessibility of the permaculture system.

permaculture handbookThe Permaculture Handbook – Peter Bane

This one is still on my book shelf waiting for a more in-depth read. It deserves mention as it is much more climate and species relevant for those in North America.

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  1. Chloe soto · January 9, 2016 Reply

    Hello sir I was just wondering where one could buy the introduction to permaculture book. I’ve been looking everywhere online and I can’t find it. Thanks

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