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Think Green: 13 Books to Read On Permaculture

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Think Green: 13 Books to Read On Permaculture

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Get to grips with how to grow food and plants more holistically and learn about permaculture with these fantastic books.

Romally Coverdale

Tue 15 Feb 2022

Food systems, farming systems, we're all aware these at a global scale have had a hugely damaging effect on our natural landscapes and destroying biodiversity.

However more sustainable focused growing, in harmony with nature, is actually one of the ways we can help reverse the impact of climate change.

Firstly, what is permaculture?

Permaculture can be defined as a lifestyle and philosophy of creating sustainable living, for ecological and personal benefit.

It takes a more mindful approach to gardening, living, cooking and connection with nature and others.

It is not a religion or dogma, but is often seen as an ecologically focused system that often poses solutions to many problems we face.

Permaculture living can be done anywhere, from cities to seasides, and can be harnessed through gardening, agriculture and foraging - to name a few.

If you wish to learn more check out - Why You Should Do A Permaculture Course This Year

Quick links to our favourite books

At pebble, all of our products are independently recommended by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission which goes to help running our publication.

kitchen garden crops

The Best 13 Books to Read On Permaculture

1. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom and Scientific Knowledge by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Our list begins with lecturer in botany Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, a beautifully written and eye-opening series of essays about Indigenous knowledge (specifically Anishinaabe) and how it reveals gaps in western science.

Kimmerer braids a potential harmonious future between a sustainable mode of living grounded in Indigenous frameworks, and western science’s outlook and engagement with the world.

Ultimately underlying the destructive nature of western science in a productive way, and how Indigenous wisdoms could present solutions to our contemporary issues.

Equal parts personal anecdotes, Indigenous lessons and philosophy, this is an amazing read for anyone and everyone.

2. Fertile Edges: Regenerating Land, Culture and Hope by Maddy Harland

Maddy Harland, an editor at Permaculture magazine, depicts the global environmental challenges and successes over the course of 25 years in Fertile Edges.

Focusing on the rise of permaculture, she explores its developments as a movement and its future potential.

Harland examines the relationships between practical permaculture, global transformation and deep ecology.

Prioritising restoration and connection to the earth, Harland inspires the reader and gives them hope of a positive future.

A great insight into permaculture, suitable reading for everyone.

3. Permaculture In A Nutshell by Patrick Whitefield

Consultant editor for Permaculture magazine Whitefield presents a great beginner’s guide to permaculture in the form of Permaculture in a Nutshell.

It is a concise and accessible insight into the practice of permaculture and how it works in different locations from farms to cities.

Whitefield also shows how permaculture is an approach to provide for our needs like food and shelter as well as financial and social structures.

For anyone interested in living fruitfully and sustainably, this is a great introduction.

4. Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Practices for Environmental Sustainability by Melissa K Neslon and Daniel Shilling

One part of a five book series titled New Direction in Sustainability and Society, Nelson and Shilling’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge talks the reader through environmental sustainability and how differing tribal and geographic locations could provide unique perspectives to our contemporary problems.

Composed of a series of essays from different disciplines, they explore philosophical issues concerning environmental values and ethics.

Although relatively scholarly, the writing is beautiful and evocative.

5. The Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitefield

Whitefield makes this list again with The Earth Care Manual, and insight into British permaculture and other countries with temperate climates.

Critically acclaimed, this book is a practical vision of a sustainable future, invaluable to beginners and experienced readers on the subject.

Whitefield speaks of the growing movement, how it started in the seventies as a sustainable alternative to modern agriculture and how permaculture is an interconnecting force of green ideas.

6. People and Permacultures by Looby Macnamara and Rebecca Storch

Beautifully illustrated by Storch, Macnamara’s People and Permacultures explores permaculture design and principles for people, and how to restore personal, social and planetary wellbeing.

The book provides a framework to help each other improve our ability to take care of ourselves, others and the earth.

It is also a great guide for beginners, or those who do not have a garden.

Inspiring creativity and sustainable living, it contains 50 practical activities to help initiate positive changes in our lives.

7. How to Permaculture Your Life: Strategies, Skills and Techniques for the Transition to a Greener World by Ross Mars

Highly regarded teacher Ross Mars presents a series of essays in How to Permaculture Your Life.

It is a fantastic surface-level introduction to permaculture, making it perfect for beginners.

Best used as a starting point, Mars discusses some of the most nutritious foods and fodder plants, how to build a garden and improve soil quality at the same time (albeit mainly for rural properties), and how to harvest and store produce.

He has tips and tricks for saving energy and reusing water as well.

It's a great practical guide for beginner gardeners, and most suitable for Australian climates.

8. Earth Restorer’s Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Marrow

Revised to be released this year, Rosemary Marrow’s Earth Restorer’s Guide to Permaculture remains a staple introductory reading for those interested in permaculture.

An expansion to Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture published in 1994 and continually revised, it speaks to the popularity and relevance this text still holds.

Beautifully illustrated by Rob Allsop, Morrow clearly dictates the concepts of permaculture, with each chapter ending in an exercise to develop personal skills.

This recent revision speaks to the contemporary climate and maintains its spot as an essential read for all.

Please note that this is the book cover for the second edition under a different title - as there is no book cover for the third edition yet.

9. The Permaculture Way: Practical Steps to Create a Self-Sustaining World by Graham Bell

Bell’s The Permaculture Way informs the reader how to consciously design a lifestyle that is both sustainable and productive.

Through minimising waste with the grand aim of leaving Earth richer than when you found it, the book shows you how to make a big positive impact on the land.

Bell guides the reader through people, skill making and capital in the first part, while in part two where there is a greater discussion on gardening, agriculture and aquaculture.

10 . The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience by Toby Hemenway

Hemenway presents a new way of thinking about urban life in his important book The Permaculture City.

Offering practical examples for creating abundance, energy security, communities and meaningful livelihoods in urban settings, he also presents sustainable policies for both cities and towns.

By using the garden as a jumping point, Hemenway explores how to let people, neighbourhoods and cultures thrive just like the plants under the right conditions.

Informative and inspiring, the book is a great read for all.

11. Transition to Agro-Ecology: For a Food Secure World by Jelleke De Nooy Van Tol

Tol’s Transition to Agro-Ecology explores the current broken agricultural and food system, and how a more sustainable and beneficial mode is needed.

While seeming difficult in the face of climate change, the book highlights the growing movements amongst farmers to more positive modes of farming for people and the planet.

The book guides the reader through the often unseen changes in famer-led communities, and imagines a world where agro-ecology is the norm.

A must read for researchers to beginners.

Why Fairtrade Farmers Want World Leaders To Keep Their Climate Promises

12. Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Rooted is a beautiful and thought-provoking book by award-winning author Haupt.

Rooted invites the reader to expand their ecological consciousness and action, consider it a manual to live a more natural life.

Offering reflections on science, the natural world, and spirituality, Haupt provides readers solace from the stresses of climate upheaval and a direction for engaging with contemporary ecological issues.

13. Permaculture Design: A Step by Step Guide by Aranya

Aranya offers insight into how to start your own garden with a permaculture mindset in Permaculture Design.

This guide is full of colour, explanations, flowcharts and other visual aids in order to equip a reader of any gardening level with the right tools.

Linking theory to practice, he covers systems and patterns, teamwork and design, site surveying and other essential considerations.

Perfect to anyone who is thinking, or has done, a permaculture design course.

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