Permaculture Reading List - Toby Hemenway (2022)

Readings in Permaculture, Ecological Design, and Pattern Literacy

General Permaculture Books

The Best of Permaculture: A Collection. Lindegger and Tap, ed. Nascimanere Nambour. Great stuff from the first 10 years or so of permaculture.

Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture. Morrow, Rosemary. Simon & Schuster, 2000. An informal introduction to permaculture by an experienced teacher.

Edible Forest Gardens. Jacke, David and Eric Toensmeier. Chelsea Green, 2006. Simply the best book on forest gardens, comprehensive and readable. A good all-round permaculture book for temperate climates.

The Future is Abundant: A guide to sustainable agriculture. Korn, Snyder and Musick, ed. Tilth, 1982. OP, needs to be re-done. The first bioregional (US PNW) permaculture handbook.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Toby Hemenway. Chelsea Green, 2001. Easy to use and understand tour through the permaculture garden

Introduction to Permaculture. Slay, Reny, and Mollison, Bill. Tagari 91 Tyalgum. An intro from the founder, includes a concise listing of principles.

Living Community. Haggard, Ben. Center for the Study of Community, 4018 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe NM, 87505. The evolution of a premier permaculture site, written by a master designer.

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual (alternate subtitle: A Practical Guide for a Sustainable Future) Mollison, Bill. Island Press Covelo, CA, 1990. A comprehensive study guide; the bible of permaculture

The Permaculture Garden. Bell, Graham. Thorson’s, 1994. A British-oriented introduction to permaculture gardening techniques.

The Permaculture Way. Graham Bell. Thorsons, London 1992. Simple explanation of permaculture in action. Good examples.

Travels In Dreams. Bill Mollison. Tagari 1996. Engaging memoir with stories, stories, stories by the man behind permaculture.

The Western (Australia) Permaculture Manual. Brown, David, ed. Cornucopia, Subiaco, West Australia 1989. From philosophy to nitty-gritty region specific, untidy early Pc from the trenches, OP

Ecology and Whole Systems

At Home in the Universe. Oxford, 1995. Kauffman shows how life inevitably will emerge when there is sufficient complexity.

Ecological Design. Van der Ryn, Sim, and Stuart Cowan. Island, 1996. The essential concepts of ecological design.

The Ecology of Urban Habitats. Wheater, C. Philip. Routledge, London, 1999. Though written for a British audience, this book contains a wealth of information about urban ecology: succession, soils, animals, microclimates, and more.

Fundamentals of Ecology. Odum, Eugene, P. W. B. Saunders, 1971. An early textbook on the basics of ecology, in depth.

A Hierarchical View of Ecosystems. O’Neill, R. V. Princeton, 1986. An advanced look at how ecosystems function.

Holistic Resource Management. Savory, Alan. Island, 1988. The central work of a school of sustainability developed in parallel with permaculture. Good biblio which includes personal growth.

Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards. Stein, Sara. Houghton Mifflin, 1995. A well-written and compelling plea for allowing nature back into our yards, full of natural history.

The Origins of Order. Kauffman, Stuart. Oxford, 1994. A dense and scholarly treatment of the ideas expressed in At Home in the Universe.

Out of Control .Kelly, Kevin. Addison Wesley, 1994. How our new understanding of biology is transforming both ecology and economics.

The Web of Life. Capra, Fritjof. Doubleday, 1996. An engaging account of how the new sciences of complexity and self-organization are affecting our understanding of living systems.

Design Process

Design with Nature. McHarg, Ian. Wiley, 1992. Innovative techniques for appropriate landscape design using map overlays.

Landscape Graphics. Reid, Grant W. Whitney Library of Design, 1987. Excellent introduction to professional landscape drawing.


By Nature’s Design. Neill, William, and Pat Murphy. Chronicle, 1993. Stunning photographs and clear explanations of nature’s patterns.

The Fractal Geometry of Nature. Mandelbrot, Benoit. W.H. Freeman & Co, 1983. Key insights into natural patterns by the developer of the fractal concept.

Metapatterns. Volk, Tyler. Columbia, 1995. Very compatible with Mollison’s pattern writings.

On Growth and Form. Thompson, D’arcy Wentworth. Dover, 1992. A magisterial text on how the shapes and patterns in nature are formed; a classic in the field.

A Pattern Language. Alexander, Christopher. Oxford NY 1977 Design for human building and settlements using patterns derived from successful designs.

Patterns in Nature. Stevens, Peter S. Little, Brown & Co., 1974. A review of the common classes of patterns found in nature.

Reading Landscape

Changes in the Land. Cronon, William. Hill and Wang (McGraw-Hill) NY, 1989 (Toronto) Indians, colonists, and the ecology of New England, a foundation work on the managed ecology of pre-Columbian N. America

The History of The Countryside. Rackham, Oliver. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1995. About Britain, and full of info about traditional land use.

What are People For? Berry, Wendell. Poet Berry is concerned equally with culture and agriculture.

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. Abram, David. Pantheon, 1996. Complex and careful thinking about how language shapes our senses.

Water, Ponds, Catchment, and Aquaculture

The Challenge of Landscape. P.A. Yeomans. . The development and practice of keyline land management.

Design and Construction of Small Earth Dams. Nelson, K.D. Inkata Melbourne. Best book on the subject.

Earth Ponds. Matson, Tim. Countryman. Very available, and there is also a workbook. Misses much that you’ll find in McClarney, Yeomans and Nelson, but will help you avoid many mistakes.

Farming in Ponds and Dams. Romanowski, Nick. Lothian, 1994. Real aquaculture stuff from an opinionated pro. Australian but current and useful nonetheless.

The Freshwater Aquaculture Book. McClarney, William. Hartley & Marks, 1984. Extensive!

Getting Food from Water: A Guide to Backyard Aquaculture. Gene Logsdon 1978 A good lay-persons guide. One of the best illustrated books on the subject.

Living Water. Olaf Alexandersson. Viktor Schauberger’s theories on water. Can be a bit out there for some folks but an interesting read.

Rainwater Harvesting. Pacey, Arnold, and Adrian Cullis. Intermediate Technology, 1996. Many techniques for using rainwater.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Vols, 1 & 2. Lancaster, Brad. Comprehensive, theory and practice, and not just for drylands. Highly recommended.

Sensitive Chaos. Theodore Schwenk. Combines the scientific and the esoteric for an excellent approach to how water interacts with life.

Water: A Primer. Leopold, Luna. Freeman, 1974. An intro to hydrology for designers working with streams and dams. By Aldo’s boy.

Water For Every Farm. P. A and Ken Yeomans. A revised guide to using the keyline system.


(Video) Gaia's Garden (A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture) Second Edition Book Review

The Albrecht Papers. Albrecht, William A. Acres USA, 1996. Somewhat quirky collection of papers by a soil scientist with vision.

Dirt: the Ecstatic Skin of the Earth. William Bryant Logan (Riverhead, 1995). A literate excursion into the life of the soil and of those who work it.

Earthworms for Ecology and Profit. Gaddie, Ronald, and Donald Douglas. Bookworm, 1977. One of the best books on worm composting and worm beds.

Feed the Soil. Edwin McLeod. Organic Ag. Research Institute 1982. Resource to understand how natural ag. works and putting it into practice. Focus on green manure crops and nitrogen fixers.

The Gardener’s Guide to Better Soil. Logsden, Gene. Rodale, Emmaus, PA 1976. Soil fertility, composting, soil science.

The Nature and Properties of Soils. Brady, Nyle C. Prentice-Hall, 1996. This major textbook on soils covers the whole subject in depth.

Soil and Health: An Agricultural Testament. Howard, Sir Albert. Rodale, Emmaus, PA 1976. Written in the 1930s; 25 years of research by the man who coined the term “organic agriculture”

Soil Management. Dalzell, H.W., FAO, Rome, 1987. “Compost production and use in tropical and subtropical environments” My favorite compost book because it covers production ag systems in places w/o machinery, very applicable to those of us working small-scale in the US.

Start with the Soil. Gershuny, Grace. Rodale, 1993. A superb handbook on the how and why of creating great soil.

The Soul of the Soil: A Guide to Ecological Soil Management. Grace Gershuny and J. Smillie 1986.

Greywater and Waste Management

The Composting Toilet System Book. Del Porto, David and Steinfeld, Carol, CEPP, ’99. Excellent reference on the subject by leaders in the field.

Create an Oasis With Greywater. Ludwig, Art. 5 San Marcos Trout Club Rd., Santa Barbara CA 93105 (805)967-3222. Art is a permaculturist who has developed household cleansers for greywater systems.

The Toilet Papers. Sim Van der Ryn. 1978. Capra Press, Santa Barbara. Excellent book on composting human manure

Gardening, Farming, and Plant Guides

American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Brickell, Christopher. MacMillan, 1990. An illustrated guide to most common plants, with thousands of photos.

Bamboo in the U.S. R.A. Young. USDA Handbook #193 (OP) Wash. DC 1961. Description, culture and utilization, a foundation book.

The Beautiful Food Garden Encyclopedia of Attractive Food Plants. Gessert, Kate Rogers. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983. How to landscape with good-looking vegetables.

The Book of Bamboo. Farrelly, David. Sierra Club, 1984. A thoughtful and thorough investigation into the culture, varieties, and uses of bamboo.

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. Deppe, Carol. Little, Brown, ’93. Good plant breeding book. How to stabilize patented hybrids and similar tricks.

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden. Wilson, Gilbert Minnesota Hist.Soc. St. Paul’87. Traditional Hidatsa agricultural methods; a look at the first farmers of N.Am.

City Food. Wade, Isabel. Urban Resource Systems, 1986. “Crop selection in 3rd World Cities” Has a great biblio.

Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden. Jekyll, Gertrude. Ayer, 1983. One of several classic books by Jekyll on garden design.

The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping. Creasy, Rosalind. Sierra Club, 1982. The foundation book that brought vegetables into the front yard.

Complete Book of Herbs and Spices. Sarah Garland. 1979. A Studio Book. Viking Press N.Y. A definitive guide to herbs and spices with great illustrations, stories, and recipes

Common Weeds of the United States. United States Department of Agriculture. Dover, 1971. A good technical guide to 224 species of weeds, with clear drawings. Organized by plant family, so it requires a little botanical knowledge.

Cornucopia II: A Source Book of Edible Plants. Facciola, Stephen. Kampong, 1998. A comprehensive list and description of edible flora.

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape. Kourik, Robert. Metamorphic Press. Zone 1 design and implementation. Wonderful! OP, maybe available still from Dan Hemenway, Barking Frogs Pc.

Farmers of Forty Centuries. King, F.H. Rodale Emmaus, PA. Traditional Chinese agriculture by an early agro-tourist.

Ferment and Human Nutrition. Bill Mollison Tagari Publications, Tyalgum, Australia, 1993.

Fertility Pastures. Turner, Newman. Bargyla Rateaver. Pauma Valley CA, 1974. polyculture pastures for restoring soil.

The Food Lover’s Garden. Pellegrini, Angelo. Knopf N.Y. 1970. A much-loved English professor from Seattle, born an Italian peasant. He understood microclimate well.

Four-Season Harvest. Coleman, Eliot. Chelsea Green, 1999. How to extend the growing season to the whole year, even in northern climates.

Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory. Whealy, Kent, ed. Seed savers Exchange, RR3, Box 239 Decorah, Iowa 52101. a listing of all varieties available by mail in the US

The Ghosts Of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, And Other Ecological Anachronisms. Connie Barlow. How surviving plants are clues to vanished ecological relationships. For designing systems for humans and animals.

The Grafter’s Handbook. Robert Garner 1979. One of the best books on grafting; a classic.

Greening the Garden. Jason, Dan New Society, 1991 A gardening book by the owner of Saltspring Seeds. A good emphasis on grains and legumes for the W. Coast Maritime climate.

Herbs of the Pacific Northwest. Ross H Penhallen. OSU Extension Bulletin #LC406. 65 page comprehensive guide to the growing of herbs.

High-Yield Gardening. Hunt, Marjorie. Rodale, 1986. A superb guide to extending the growing season, high-density planting, and getting more from the garden.

How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine. Jeavons, John. Ten Speed, 1991. Bio-intensive (and labor-intensive) techniques that boost production; useful but the claimed yields are hard to match.

Lost Crops of the Incas. National Academy Press Wash. DC 1989. Little-known plants of the Andes with promise for worldwide cultivation.

Master Gardener’s Handbook. Oregon State Extension Service 1993 EM 8442. Basic book that covers many aspects of gardening, plant care and botany.

The Mulch Book: A Complete Guide for Gardeners. Campbell, Stu, and Donna Moore. Storey Books, 1991. A good introduction to mulching.

The Natural Habitat Garden. Druse, Ken. Potter, 1994. How to create prairie, meadow, woodland, and wetland gardens using native plants.

The Natural Way of Farming. Masanobu Fukuoka. Rodale Press. Fukuoka-san’s insights into applying nature’s knowledge to agriculture. A classic, hard to find.

North American Fruit Explorers Handbook. (NAFEX)

The One-Straw Revolution. Fukuoka, Masanobu. Rodale. Hard to find, but a crucial foundation text for Pc.

The Orchard Almanac. Steve Page and Joe Smillie. A seasonal guide to healthy fruit trees. Excellent reference on planting, pruning, fertilization, organic control of pests, restoring old fruit trees, IPM, resistant varieties, harvest and storage.

Organic Gardener’s Edible Plants. Creasy, Rosalind. Van Patten, 1993. Descriptions of over 130 edible ornamental plants.

Organic Plant Protection. Rodale Press,1976. A how-to guide to organic gardening. Readily found in used bookstores

Organic Tree Fruit Management . Linda Evans. Text book quality.

Plants for a Future: Edible and Useful Plants for a Healthier World. Fern, Ken. Permanent Publications, 1997. Distributed in the United States by Chelsea Green Publishing. A British book covering a wide range of multifunctional plants.

Pruning and Training. Brickell & Joyce, DK, 1996 From the Am. Hort. Society. The current best, “fully illustrated plant-by-plant manual.”

The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book. Stout, Ruth Rodale also, How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back. OP foundation texts of Pc gardening, deep mulching.

(Video) TOBY HEMENWAY on Permaculture for Nomads /04

The Scythe Book. Tressemer, David. By Hand and Foot, Ltd. Available now only from the Marug Co., Tracy City, TN; how to use and maintain a scythe.

Sea Weed Vegetables: Harvesting Guide and Cookbook. Evelyn Mc Connaughey. A guide to foraging and preparing of free nutritious sea vegetables.

The Self-Sufficient Gardener. John Seymour. Dolphin Book,s, Doubleday and Company, Garden City, N.Y. 1980. One of my favorite general garden books. Excellent colored line drawings, Soil care, propagation, controlling insects and diseases, harvesting and storage, etc.

Small Scale Grain Raising. Logsdon, Gene. Rodale 1977. Emmaus, PA. Well-written small-farm info. His latest is The Contrary Farmer.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus. Gibbons, Euell McKay N.Y. 1971 all his books are useful; Euell was managing his local wild ecologies long ago.

Stocking Up. Carol Hupping Stoner. Rodale Press 1977. Food preservation techniques: fruits, vegies, dairy products, meat and fish, nuts seeds and grains. Favorite all-around food prep. book

Subsistence Agriculture Improvement. Goeltenboth, Friedhelm, ed. Margraf, Weikersheim, 1990. “A manual for the humid Tropics”, it has an aid worker’s viewpoint, and thereby applicable to other climates as well.

Successful Small-Scale Farming: an organic approach. by Karl Schwenke, Storey, 1991. Good for some of the best of traditional and more modern field techniques, incl. using old equipment and good directions on contour terracing. Lots of illustrations.

Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value. National Academy of Sciences Wash. DC 1975.

Weeds and What They Tell. Pfeiffer, Ehrenfried. Bio-Dynamic Farming & Garden Association, 1981. How to use weeds to assess the type and fertility of the local soil.

Weeds: Guardians of the Soil. Cocannouer, Joseph. Devin-Adair, 1950. Describes the role of weeds useful crops and as indicators of fertility, with much historical lore.

Western Fruit, Berries and Nuts. Lance Walheim & Robert Stebbins.

Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. Guard, Jennifer. Lone Pine, 1995. A very useful new-wave field guide, includes an illustrated glossary.

Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest. Binda Colebrook. A guide to growing vegetables between October and May. Site selection, variety choices, when to plant and harvest. Explanation of common winter crop pests and diseases. Excellent resource!


Biopiracy. Vandana Shiva. Biotech and what it is doing to seed savers.

The New Seed-Starters Handbook. by Nancy Bubel. 1988. Excellent guide to starting a variety of vegies, fruits, trees, grains, herbs, etc. Also on seed-saving.

Seed to Seed. Ashworth, Suzanne. Seed Saver’s Exchange, Rt. 3 Box 239 Decorah, Iowa 52101. Seed saving techniques for the vegetable grower.

Return To Resistance. Raoul Robinson. AgAccess. One of the most permaculturally correct books on plant breeding, entry-level in complexity.

Gardening to Attract Wildlife

America’s Neighborhood Bats. Tuttle, Merlin. An entry level eco-action text.

American Wildlife and Plants A Guide to Wildlife Food Habitats. Alexander Martin, Herbert S. Zim, Arnold Nelson Dover Press 1951. Food and feeding habits of more than 1000 migratory birds and mammals and the relationship to each other; Plants for wildlife food; huge and comprehensive.

A Guide To Bird Homes. Scott Shalaway. PO Box 110 Marietta, Ohio 45750. Rich in descriptions of what birds like what type of nesting and roosting space. Adequate plans for nesting boxes and predator baffles. The basics of who, what, where, when, and how.

How to Attract Birds. McKinley, Ortho Books, 1999. Instructions for attracting specific birds with plants and The National Wildlife Federation’s Guide to Gardening for Wildlife. Craig Tufts Craig and Peter Loewer. Rodale, 1995. How to provide garden habitat for birds, insects, and nocturnal animals.

The Hummingbird Garden. Tekulsky, Mathew. Crown, 1986. A guide to cultivating plants that attract these flying jewels; one of the best on the subject.

National Audubon Society Bird Garden. Kress, Stephen M. DK, 1995. Designs and plants for gardens that provide food, water, cover, and nesting sites for birds.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Guide to Gardening for Wildlife. Tufts, Craig and Peter Loewer. Rodale, 1995. How to provide garden habitat for birds, insects, and nocturnal animals.

The Wildlife Garden. Seidenberg, Charlotte. University of Mississippi, 1995. An introduction to wildlife habitat gardening with examples of garden designs.

The Wildlife Gardener. Dennis, John V. Knopf, 1985. A good introduction to creating gardens for wildlife habitat.

Native Plants (Northwest USA)

Gardening With Natives of the Pacific Northwest. Arthur Kruckenberg. Good descriptions NW plants, how to propagate and their landscape uses.

Handbook of Northwestern Plants. Gilkey. Complete book of plants native to the area from the summit of the Cascade Range to the coastline of Washington and Oregon, to the south line of Lane County.

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Pojar and Mackinnon. One of the best books for native plant ID, great color photos.

Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest: An illustrated Guide to the Natural History of Western Washington, Oregon, and B.C.. Eugene Kozloff. Good info on our native fauna and flora.

Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants. Robin Rose. Very easy to understand book on propagation. Highly recommended.

Plant Association and Management Guide–Willamette National Forest. Hemstrom, 1987. US Department of Agriculture. Excellent reference for guide of guilds utilized in the Willamette National forest.

Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. B. Jennifer Guard. Lone Pine 1998. A field guide with photos good glossary and lots of interesting info.

Forests, Hedgerows, and Tree Crops

Bioengineering for Land Stabilization and Conservation. Hugo Schiechtl U. of Alberta Press Edmonton, 1980 The foundation text for using live plants in engineering.

Firewood Crops. National Academy of Sciences Wash. DC 1980. Shrub and tree species for energy production.

The Forest Farmer’s Handbook: A Guide to Natural Selection Forestry, Orville Camp. Sky River Press, Ashland, Oregon 1984

Forest Farming. Douglas, J. Sholto, and Robert Hart. Rodale, 1985. A strong argument for growing trees for food and fodder, with descriptions of many species; a basic Pc book.

Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape.Hart, Robert. Chelsea Green, 1996. A personal account of forest garden design by one of the originators of the field.

Forest Primeval. Maser, Chris. The forest of the PNW, by a clear-thinking eco-forester.

The Handbook for Fruit Explorers. Fishman, Ram. North American Fruit Explorers, Rt. 1 box 94, Chapin, I1. 62628 (1986) free to new members- OP but may be re done.

Hedging: A Practical Handbook. BTCV British Trust For Conservation Volunteers 1988 Wallingford, Oxfordshire. Excellent–tools, species and techniques. Best material on coppice, management and tree planting I have seen in one book.

How to Make a Forest Garden. Whitefield, Patrick. Permanent Publications, 1997. Distributed in the United States by Chelsea Green. Instructions and ideas for forest gardens, with a British focus but usable in North America.

A Natural History of Western Trees. Peattie, Donald Culross. Houghton Mifflin Boston, 1953 Stories and illustrations, a bit of ecology; the N. H. of Eastern Trees volume is equally good but he died before completing N. H. of Southern Trees

The Redesigned Forest. Maser, Chris R & E Miles. San Pedro,’88. Forestry, old and new, in the Northwest.

Restoration Forestry: An International Guide to Sustainable Forestry Practices. Michael Pilarski,ed.

Saving Our Ancient Forests. Zuckerman, Seth Living Planet Press L.A. 1991. Written to a high school level, fresh style.

Seeing the Forest Among the Trees. Hammond, Herb, Polestar, Vancouver, 1991. Herb is the holistic forestry consultant in BC and this is his book for the public at large. Good “invisible structure” social info.

Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. Smith, J. Russell. Harper. A foundation, visionary text for Pc.

Trees on The Treeless Plains. Holmgren, David. 1994. Recommended for designers doing broadscale work, this book is about Victoria and so the climate is not inappropriate for PNW conditions. I recommend any of Holmgren’s writings.

(Video) Toby Hemenway - The Permaculture City

Wildwood: A Forest Farm for the Future. Ruth Loomis. Pacific Certified Ecological Forest Products Institute for Sustainable forestry PO Box 1580 Redway, Ca. 95560


Biological Control of Insects and Mites. N.C.R.481. University of Wisconsin. Coop./ Ext. Publication. 30 Murray St. Rm. 345 Madison, WI. 53715-2609 $9.00 An Introduction to beneficial natural enemies

The Bug Book. Olkowski. Easy to understand book on bugs- lifecycles, beneficials. Excellent, often found used.

The Butterflies of North America. James A. Scott (1986). The definitive b-fly text of the moment.

Handbook for Butterfly Watchers. Robert Michael Pyle, Houghton Mifflin, Boston ’84. Butterflies as indicator species

Natural Enemies Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Biological Pest Control. Mary Louise Flint and Steve Dreistadt. “Best ever” practical guide to insect control. This book will help you find, identify, and use natural enemies to control pests in almost any agricultural setting.

Encyclopedia of Natural Insect and Disease Control. Yepson, Roger, ed. Rodale,1984. Natural pest

The Orchard Mason Bee. Brian Griffin Knox Cellars 1607 Knox Ave. Bellingham, WA 98225 (306) 733-3283 Good little book on Mason Bees. Also, provider of Adult blue orchard bees (Osmia lignaria) along with nesting material and educational products.

Rodale’s Color Handbook of Garden Insects. Anna Carr Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa 1979. Readily available used. Photographs illustrating insect (beneficial and 19pest’) life cycles.


ABC of Poultry Raising: A Complete Guide for the Beginner or Expert. Florea, J, H. Dover, 1977. A standard work on small-scale poultry care.

The American Minor Breeds Notebook. Heise &Christman. The American Minor Breeds Conservancy POB 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312 rare livestock with unique characteristics

Chicken Tractor. Lee, Andy Good Earth, 1994 “The Gardener’s guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil.” A second-generation Pc book that goes beyond Mollison; using animals multifunctinally.

Chickens in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide.Luttmann, Rick, and Gail Luttmann. Rodale, 1976. A good book on small-scale chicken raising for the homeowner.

The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable. de Bairacli Levy, Juliette Faber and Faber Boston, 1990. A look at traditional knowledge and the importance of plant diversity to animals.

The Family Cow. van Loon, Dirk. Garden Way

The Forgotten Pollinators. Buchman, Steve, and Nabhan. Island, 1996. Stories about ecology through the window of pollination, a crucial link. I recommend any of Gary Nabhan’s books, which mostly center on the Sonoran desert; this one is of world-wide urgent importance.

Grass Productivity Voisin, Andre. A primary text for rotational grazing.

The Home Duck Flock. Holderread, Dave The Hen House Corvallis, OR 1978 a local expert on waterfowl.

Keepers of the Game. Calvin Luther

The Last Ranch. Bingham, Sam. A year in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, centering on a few ranchers applying Holistic Resource Management methods. Well-written by the author of the HRM Workbook, it begins with a quote from Permaculturist Michael Crowfoot: “Not only are ecologies more complex than we imagine, they are more complex than we can imagine” Very highly recommended.

Microlivestock. N A P 1991 “Little-known small animals with a promising economic future”

A Natural History of Domesticated Animals. by Juliet Clutton-Brock. All you could want to know about the wild ancestors of all the domesticated animals of the world. With extensive references, this book is very useful if you are designing low-input systems with animals.

Pastured Poultry Profits. Joel Salatin. Production model describes how to produce an income from small acreage raising poultry. He tells how anyone can earn $25,000 in 6 months on 20 acres.

The Power of Duck: Integrated Rice and Duck Farming. by Takao Furuno 2001, 94 pp. + 4 color plates, $24 + 10% p&h, Permaculture Activist, PO Box 1209 Black Mountain, NC 28711

Raising Rabbits the Modern Way.Bennett, Bob. Garden Way, 1980. Good introduction to rabbits in the backyard.

Salad Bar Beef. Joel Salatin This proven system can yield a superb profit from a small cow herd regardless of the commodity price of calves.

The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game. Paul Shepard. Deep thinking and poetic writing about our need for relationships with animals; good for countering anti-meat food dogma.

The Third Chimpanzee. Diamond, Jared. I recommend all of Diamond’s books because of his wide range of knowledge, which includes genetics, birds, language and owes much to his long involvement in research in New Guinea, the area with the greatest human cultural diversity.


A Better Place to Live. Corbet, Michael. Rodale, 1981; “New Designs for Tomorrows Communities,” the planning behind Village Homes, lots of ties to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities movement from earlier in this century.

Bioshelters, Ocean Arks, and City Farming. Jack and Nancy Todd

Build It With Bales. Myhrman & Mac Donald Out on Bale,1997

The Cob Builders Handbook. Becky Bee Groundworks PO Box 14194, Portland, Or. 97293

Earth Building & The Cob Revival, and The Cobbler’s Companion. Ianto Evans, Michael Smith. PO Box 123 Cottage Grove, Or 97424

Handbook: Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Building. John Reynolds

The Hand-Sculpted House. Ianto Evans, Linda Smiley, Michael Smith. Philosophy and practice of building with cob; highly recommended

The Natural House Book. David Pearson Fireside Books Simon and Schuster,1989

The Owner-Built Home. Ken Kern. Scribner’s, 1972.A classic on innovative design and techniques for building your own house. Any of Kern’s books (Owner-Built Homestead, Pole-Frame House) is well worth finding.

A Straw Bale Primer. S.O. MacDonald How to Build w/ great illustrations

Appropriate Technology

Appropriate Technology Sourcebook. Ken and Mike Saxenian. 1986. PO Box 4543 Stanford, CA 94305. Exc. ref. reviews hundreds of publications on AT from agriculture to disaster preparedness.

The Composting Toilet System Book. Carol Steinfeld. The most complete book on the subject’s state of the art that I’ve seen.

The Humanure Handbook. Joseph Jenkins, Chelsea Green, 1999. Excellent guide to composting humane manure.

Landscape Design That Saves Energy. A. Moffat Morrow 1981.

The Integral Urban House: Self-Reliant Living in the City. Helga and Bill Olkowski 1979 Guide to 19integral’ home design, focusing on energy conservation.

Teaching/Children and Nature

Composting Across the Curriculum: A Teacher’s Guide to Composting. Kathy Ezratty 1993. Marin County Office of Waste Management 10 North San Pedro Rd. Suite 1022, San Rafael, CA 94903 (415)499-6647 Great workbook for people of all ages.

The Evolution Book. Sara Stein. Workman Publishing, NY, 1986. The story of 4,000 million years of life on Earth revealed through observations, experiments, projects, and investigations.

Exploring the Secrets of the Meadow-Thicket. JoAnne Dennee and Julia Hand. A Common Roots Guidebook 1994. Observing plants, birds, insects, and animals and how they interact in the meadow thicket. Songs, activities, and stories.

Kid’s Nature. Susan Milord. Williams Publishing. Charlette,VT. 365 Indoor and outdoor nature experiences for kids. Springo Tyron Creek State Park 11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd. Portland, Or 97219 (503)636-4550

Life Lab, Growing Adventure. Life Lab Science Program 1156 High St. Santa Cruz, Ca. 95064 (408)459-2001 In and outdoor science activities

The Long Haul. Horton, Miles, Anchor, NY, 1990 Autobiography of a union and civil right organizer who founded the Highlander School. As he retired the school was becoming involved in bioregional land control and ecology issues. Good for teachers-aren’t we all?

(Video) The Permaculture City, an interview with Toby Hemenway

Sharing Nature With Children. Cornell, Joseph. Ananda, 1979. Teaching tactics, a classic.

Squirmy Wormy Composters. Bobbie Kalman Crabtree Publ.Co. 1992. My favorite pix in this book is the kid w/ a worm on his tongue. Really gets the attention of children to read this! For elementary school age.

The Usborne Complete First Book of Nature. Michael Chinery Usborne Ltd. Belgium Publishing Ltd. 1990. Beautifully detailed illustrations of plants and animals. A serious nature study for the young and old. I had to special order this but found it one of the best children’s nature books available.

333 Science Tricks and Experiments. Robert Brown Tab Books, INC. Blue Ridge Summit, PA 1984. Inexpensive, readily available materials- unique and unusual experiments


CoHousing. McCamant and Durrent. Habitat/Ten Speed, 1992. The book that brought the Scandinavian movement to popularity in the US. Lots of interviews and good design stories.

Intentional Communities. Communities Publication Cooperative 105 Sun Street Steele Illinois, 60919. This book explains what communities are, how to choose a community, social action, personal growth through community, ideas for decision making, community economics, land trusts, and networking.

Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow an Ecovillage or Intentional Community. New Society, 2003.Diana Leafe Christian.

Stories form the front lines; a toolkit for designing a functional community.


Ecology of Commerce. Paul Hawken Harper Collins 1993. Ecological analysis of Business. Practical suggestions

Finding and Buying Your Place In the Country. Dearborn Financial Publishing 1992. Classic land buying guide; includes useful property evaluation lists

Nine Steps to Financial Freedom. Suze Orman Random House 1997. Easy to understand and practical. Basic tips for getting your personal finances in order.

Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. F. Schumacker Harper Collins. The author recommends decentralized localized life styles. He outlines a series of proposals intended to save the planet from economic and environmental collapse.

Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. Joe Dominguez Penguin, USA 1993. The focus is on finding satisfaction with your life-Recommends how to save money on all aspects of living.


The Greening of the Revolution: Cuba’s Experiment with Organic Agriculture. Peter Rosset and Medea Benjamin. Ocean Press, 2017 Mission Street S.F. Ca. 94110. 1994. Cuba has lost its sources for conventional farming, empty city lots and other available land is being converted to organic gardens

Radical Agriculture. Ed. Richard Merrill. Harper Colophon Books 1976. 20 Essays that summarize the ecological, physical, and, social characteristics of a radical agriculture.

The Unsettling of America, and The Gift of the Land, and What Are People for?. Wendell Berry. Just a few of the books by this prolific poet, visionary, and humanistic author.

Women , Ecology, and Development. Zed Books, 1989. Vandana Shiva. Shiva examines women’s relationship to nature and defines the links between the ecological crisis, colonialism, and the oppression of women.

Income Production

Rebirth of the Small Family Farm. Bob and Bonnie Gregson. IMF Associates, PO Box 2542, Vashon Island, Wa. 98070. A handbook for starting a successful organic farm based on the Community Supported Agriculture concept.

Marketing Without Advertising. Creative strategies for small Business Success Phillips and Rasberry Nolo Press, Berkeley. 1986. Great resource on how to promote your self and business.

You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Succeeding in a Farming Enterprise. Joel Salatin. 1998 Chelsea Green Publishing. This book targets wannabe farmers- offering specific details on how to succeed in farming.

General and Miscellaneous

The Ages of Gaia. Lovelock, James. Bantam NY/Toronto 1990. 2nd book on the Gaia hypothesis by the originator, answers the questions raised by the Gaia Hypothesis.

Before The Wilderness. Blackburn and Anderson, eds. Ballena, 1993. Environmental Management by Native Californians.

The Earth Manual. Margolin, Malcom. Heyday Books, Berkeley, 1985. good except the out-of-date tree surgery stuff; largely about working with public land.

Ecodefense. Foreman, Dave, and Haywood, ed. Ned Ludd. Tucson, AZ, 1987. A field guide to monkeywrenching; may be hard to find! Realistic and cautionary about consequences, and recommended for those feeling eco-angered.

Five Kingdoms. Margulis, Lynn. Current wisdom on Gaia’s lifeforms.

The Future Eaters. Flannery, Tim, “An ecological History of Austronesia” which means Oz, NZ, New Guinea and New Caledonia. Hard, real eco-reality with examples quite exotic to us northerners. This book gives me ideas about why Pc began in Oz.

The Klamath Knot. Wallace, David Rains. Sierra Club 1983 S.F. “Explorations of Myth and Evolution” and centered on a region of the PNW.

The Ohlone Way. Margolin, Malcolm. Heyday Books Berkeley, 1978. Indian Life in the S.F.- Monterey Bay area

One Acre & Security: How to Live Off the Earth Without Ruining It. Angier, Bradford. Willow Creek, 2000. A useful and broad-ranging resource for homesteading and small animal care.

The Songlines. Chatwin, Bruce. Ruminations from Australia about humans as essentially nomadic.

Wintergreen. Pyle, R. M. Houghten-Mifflin, 1986. A natural history of the Willapa Hills by a local lepidopterist and writer. Also try his Handbookfor Butterfly Watchers, for indicator species!


In Grave Danger of Falling Food (1989) 56 min. “A whacky romp through Mollison’s life as an outlaw. Cartoon cutaways and bizarre sound effects seem stranger than Bill loping along the street in front of Aussie suburban sleaze, guerrilla planting hazelnuts. A campy period piece, this film tells the permaculture story with verve and imagination.” (description from Permaculture Videos through Pc Activist)

The Global Gardener (1991) 120 min. Bill Mollison’s review of permaculture accomplishments around the world. Made for Australain Broadcasting Corp. and aired to national acclaim. Four 1/2 hour segments highlight, subtropical, drylands, temperate, and urban systems with footage from developed sites in India, South Africa, Australia, The U.S., U.K. and Europe.

The Man Who Planted Trees (1985). Cartoon rendition of the book by Jean Giono. This timeless and inspiring tale of one of man’s dedicated efforts to reverse desolation is beautifully illustrated. Inspiring message where there were no trees there now are many just by one person’s effort.

Crystal Waters (1989). This poor quality tape gives a brief look at the rural development of the first permaculture village in Australia. Offers a cross section of ages and professions.


Acres USA, P.O. Box 91299, Austin, TX 78709

Permaculture Activist, PO Bo 1209, Black Mountain, NC 28711.

Permaculture Magazine (UK) available thru the Activist.

Circle Round: The Women’s Natural Building Newsletter, PO Bo 14194, Portland, OR 97293

Countryside and Small Stock Journal W11 564 Hwy. 64, Withee, WI 54498

Pomona. North American Fruit Explorers Magazine 1716 Apples Rd., Chapin, IL 62628

The Herbal Companion 201 East Fourth St. Loveland, CO. 80537

The Herb Quarterly PO Box 689 San Anselmo, CA 94979

The Last Straw, PO Bo 42000, Tucson, AZ 85733-2000

Ocean Arks International 10 Shanks Pond Rd. Falmouth, Ma. 02540 (outgrowth of the New Alchemy Institute)

My thanks to Rick Valley and Jude Hobbs for their contributions to this list.


1. Top 5 must read Books on Permaculture || Dwarakanath Jnaneswar Ekkirala
(Prana Permaculture)
2. Top 10 Gardening Books
3. Toby Hemenway's WEBINAR for the Ecological Landscaper Immersion Program!
4. Toby Hemenway spoke in Benicia, Ca September 26, 2014
(Constance Beutel)
5. The Best Gardening Books -- "Gaia's Garden"
(Gardener Scott)
6. Permaculture Panel

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