Principles of Permaculture & Permaculture Reading List To Get You Started

Permaculture is an ecological design system that seeks to create sustainable human habitats by following nature’s patterns. It is a system of agriculture and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term, a portmanteau of “permanent agriculture,” was coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s. Books can be found at the end of this page (or by clicking here).

Permaculture is not merely a way of growing food; it is a philosophy of working with, rather than against, nature. It is a mindset of abundance and resilience, rather than scarcity and fear. It is a way of living that can make a difference in our world, one garden at a time. In this article, we’ll explore the principles of permaculture and how they can be applied to create a more sustainable future.

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The Core Ethics of Permaculture

At the heart of permaculture are three core ethics that guide all decisions and designs: care for the earth, care for people, and fair share.

  1. Care for the Earth: This includes all living and non-living things—plants, animals, land, water, and air. Permaculture encourages us to respect and nurture the earth, recognizing that our survival depends on its health.
  2. Care for People: We must look after ourselves and others so that we can thrive. This involves creating environments and communities that support physical and mental well-being.
  3. Fair Share: This ethic is about setting limits to consumption and reproduction, and redistributing surplus. We should take only what we need and give back the rest.

The interplay of these ethics is the basis for all permaculture design and guides us towards sustainable living.

The Twelve Principles of Permaculture

Holmgren outlined twelve design principles in his book “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.” These principles are not a step-by-step instruction guide but a set of concepts to consider when making design decisions.

  1. Observe and Interact: By spending time observing nature and our interaction with it, we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and Store Energy: By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a Yield: Ensure that you’re getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you’re doing.
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback: Discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce No Waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design From Patterns to Details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things, and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use Small and Slow Solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and Value Diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse, and productive

Books on Permaculture – Learn the Ways of the Masters

11 Must Read Books on Permaculture

If you’d like to explore the topic further, the below books may be of interest to you. As you will see for a relatively unknown space there is plenty of different ways to educate yourself. Below is a list of Permaculture books that may of interest interest to you. Whether you are looking for Urban Permaculture or looking for ways to get more out of the land you already own. Or just getting started, now is a great time to get started!

For each book we plan to update with a review and a link to buy.

  1. “An Introduction to Permaculture” by Bill Mollison: This book provides a great overview of what permaculture is all about and the main principles associated with it. It uses simple language and lots of illustrations, making it an ideal starting point for beginners. Buy the Book Here.
  2. “Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual” by Bill Mollison: Often referred to as the “permaculture bible,” this book covers everything from the philosophy and ethics of permaculture to actual design concepts. It provides an in-depth look at topics such as climate factors, water, soil, earthworks, trees, and aquaculture. Buy the Book Here.
  3. “Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability” by David Holmgren: David Holmgren is considered one of the founders of permaculture. This book expands on the concepts from Mollison’s book with 25 years of additional thinking and experience with permaculture design principles. It takes a more technical and science-based approach to permaculture, so it reads more like a textbook than introductory material. Buy the Book Here
  4. “The Earth Care Manual” by Patrick Whitefield: This book is specifically tailored towards permaculture activities in the UK or similar temperate climates. It provides practical steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle and is applicable to any size of land, from small urban plots to larger rural farms. Buy the Book Here.
  5. “Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture” by Rosemary Barrow: This book is a great way for beginners to become familiar with the ideas of seed saving, managing pests, weeds and wildlife in a non-destructive way, and information about water usage. Buy the Book Here.
  6. “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World” by Paul Stamets: Paul Stamets is one of the world’s leading mycologists. In this book, he explains all kinds of groundbreaking research on how mushrooms can benefit a permaculture farm and the environment as a whole. Buy the Book Here.
  7. “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond” by Brad Lancaster: This book focuses on a smaller piece of the overall concept of permaculture. If you live in an arid climate that doesn’t get much rainfall, this book is a must-have. It covers the scientific side of the hydrological cycle and watersheds. Buy the Book Here.
  8. “Permaculture Design: A Step-by-step Guide” by Aranya: This book provides practical guidance for anyone interested in permaculture, from beginners to advanced practitioners. It offers step-by-step instructions for designing and implementing permaculture systems. Buy the Book Here.
  9. “The Permaculture City” by Toby Hemenway: This book provides a new way of thinking about urban living, offering practical tips and strategies to create a sustainable and green urban environment using permaculture principles. Buy the Book Here.
  10. “Edible Forest Gardens” by Dave Jacke: This book is a guide for designing and managing forest gardens – a key part of permaculture. Buy the Book Here.
  11. “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” by Joel Salatin: This book takes a critical look at modern industrial farming practices and offers a path towards more sustainable, permaculture-based methods. Buy the Book Here.

2 responses to “Principles of Permaculture & Permaculture Reading List To Get You Started”

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