Best Permaculture Books

16 Best Permaculture Books for Sustainable Food Production

Permaculture stands as a hope against the earth’s degradation due to unsustainable land use, land exploitation, food insecurity, and pollution. In a world where natural resources continue to deplete, people have to become more aware of ecologically sustainable ways of living. 

Permaculture is a term combined from two words; permanent and agriculture. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, two Australian ecologists, coins the word in 1978. Permaculture describes ‘an integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man1.’

Ecologist Bill Mollison discovered the sustainability and integration of natural ecosystems like forests and wetlands by critically observing nature. 

Today, several permaculture books and courses are studied worldwide. We have curated a list of some of the best permaculture books that provide education, insights, and practical methods to get involved in permaculture principles and practice. 

If you are new to permaculture, you can check out our article on permaculture and its principles for some background knowledge on the subject. 

16 Best Permaculture Books List 

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Quick links to our picks of the best permaculture books for a sustainable food, growing and gardening read:

1. Introduction to Permaculture 

by Bill Mollison 

The Author
Bruce Charles ‘Bill’ Mollison was the originator of the concept of permaculture. He is an Australian biologist, teacher, scientist, author, and researcher. Using permaculture design principles, he has taught thousands of people to produce food sustainably. He died in Hobart, Tasmania, in 2016, at the age of 88.

The Book
Introduction to Permaculture goes over the basics of permaculture. It explains the concept, principles, designs, and how to get started. The book also covers a list of permaculture plants and their uses. 

It uses simple language and lots of illustrations and diagrams to help even beginners gain the knowledge to get started. As the title implies, Mollison will introduce you to the topic of permaculture and why it is important. 

Buy on Amazon

2. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture 

by Toby Hemenway

The Author
Toby Hemenway was an American author and educator. He wrote mainly on permaculture and other ecological matters. He presented lectures at various sustainability conferences and workshops. He also worked as a researcher in genetics and immunology. He died at the age of 64 in 2016. 

The Book 
Reviewers describe Gaia’s Garden as one of the best permaculture books for home gardeners. In this book, Hemenway explains that creating an ecological system doesn't have to be on a large scale. This book demonstrates that even a beginner can create a backyard ecosystem by gathering a community of plants that can work together. 

It provides a comprehensive guide to perform various functions, including maintaining soil fertility, conserving water, providing a habitat for animals, and growing an edible “forest” that yields fruits. It also touches on the subject of urban permaculture for people who live in cities and have limited space. With this book, you will learn how to create a beautiful ecological garden.  

Buy on Amazon

3. Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability 

by David Holmgren

The Author
David Holmgren is one of the co-originators of permaculture with ecologist Bill Mollison. He is an Australian environmental designer, educator, and writer. Holmgren channels his efforts towards refining his theories and teaching on the subject of permaculture. 

The Book 
David Holmgren gathers lessons from 25 years of experience to deepen the knowledge of the ever-growing permaculture concept. This book takes a more scientific approach, covering more technical aspects of permaculture. The Book expands on concepts and thought processes from Bill Mollison. It comes with graphical illustrations, references, and practical solutions. In this book, you are sure to get an in-depth knowledge of different permaculture topics backed up with scientific proof. 

Buy on Amazon

4. The Earth's Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates 

by Patrick Whitefield

The Author
Patrick Whitefield was an initial pioneer of permaculture in Europe. He modified Bill Mollison’s teachings with a bias to the cooler, maritime climate of the British Isles. He has also taught several permaculture courses around the UK.

The Book 
The Earth Care Manual presents a practical guide on applying permaculture to any situation, from buildings to gardens, farms, and woodlands. This book serves as a designer’s manual explaining various design processes.

For anyone committed to a sustainable future, this permaculture book includes topics essential to sustainability, including food, energy, water, shelter, and microclimate. 

Buy on Amazon

5. Earth User's Guide to Permaculture 

by Rosemary Morrow

The Author 
Rosemary Morrow is an Australian author known globally for her effective methods in developing a permaculture system over a wide range of environments. Rosemary has worked extensively with farmers and villagers across different continents. 

The Book
Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture is an excellent resource for both beginners and expert permaculture practitioners. This permaculture book outlines permaculture design principles and techniques for self-sufficiency. You can apply these techniques and principles to both an urban and rural setting. This book is excellent for beginners who want a practical lesson on permaculture. 

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6. The Permaculture Promise 

by Jono Neiger

The Author
Jono Neiger is a biologist, permaculture educator, and designer. Jono teaches at various colleges, workshops, and conferences drawing on over 30 years of professional experience in permaculture. 

The Book
The book gives a brief overview of why permaculture could be the key to a habitable future on our planet. The book reveals 22 ways that permaculture can create a more sustainable future for all living things. Jono emphasizes that humans can live while making the earth healthier. This book will inspire you towards implementing permaculture principles in your daily life. 

Buy on Amazon

7. Practical Permaculture: for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth 

by Jessi Bloom & Dave Boehnlein

The Author
Jessi Bloom is an ecological designer, author, and speaker with a strong background in environmental sciences.  

The Book 
Practical Permaculture gives an authoritative and in-depth knowledge for a more universal approach to sustainable living. Both authors explain the basics of permaculture and share their design processes. They also examine different permaculture systems, including water, food, energy, plants, animals, and so on. Also, the book covers useful plants for permaculture landscapes.

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8. The Basics of Permaculture Design 

by Ross Mars 

The Author 
Ross Mars is a permaculture teacher, consultant, and designer with many years of experience actively involved in permaculture education. He has also created an educational video on energy-efficient housing called Passive Solar Design of Buildings.

The Book 
This book dives into the principles of permaculture, its design processes, and the tools needed to design sustainable gardens and communities. It presents illustrations and valuable tips to guide you through designs for gardens, water harvesting systems, animal systems, as well as permaculture in small spaces like balconies.

Some chapters also cover the subject of appropriate technology, wind and hydro-power, pumping water, and cooking devices. This book is an excellent guide for enthusiasts and permaculture designers.  

Buy on Amazon

9. Permaculture Design: A Step-by-Step Guide 

by Aranya

The Author
Aranya has since been exploring what permaculture can do since his design course. He has designed many gardens, along with some other non-land-based designs. He has now pursued teaching that involves delivering around ten two-week design courses a year. Aranya is also a barefoot enthusiast. 

The Book
This unique, step-by-step guide leads you through the design process from beginning to end. It uses practical examples, flowcharts, and diagrams. This book is based on course worksheets that have been designed and tested on students over some time. 

He links theory to practice by placing the ethics, principles, philosophies, tools, and techniques into the context of the design process. This is a great book for anyone with a basic understanding of permaculture. It is also an excellent resource for experienced designers. If you are looking to take a permaculture course, this book will serve as an excellent reference. 

Buy on Amazon

10. The Permaculture Garden 

by Graham Bell

The Author
Graham Bell was the former editor of Permaculture News. He also worked for the Prince’s Trust and is now a freelance environmental consultant. 

The Book
The Permaculture Garden is one of the best permaculture books full of practical ideas that will help you turn bare land into a beautiful and sustainable garden. In this book, you will learn how to plan your garden and crops. It will also teach you to save energy, water, and other natural resources. It is informative and easy to understand. With this book, you will be able to create your own garden.  

Buy on Amazon

11. Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops 

by Martin Crawford

The Author
Martin Crawford is a British author and founder of the Agroforestry Research Trust. This non-profit charity focuses on researching temperate agroforestry and other areas of plant cropping with a focus on shrubs, trees, and perennial crops.

The Book
This book is a practical guide on forest gardening and permaculture. It teaches you how to create a forest garden, from its planting to its design and maintenance. It further explains how to design a forest garden from the top to the bottom layer. This book provides a gardener’s guide to over 500 trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals, tree crops, and climbers. It also features more familiar plants like figs and apple trees that are suitable for temperate forest gardens. With this book, you can learn to create food forests and forest gardens. 

Buy on Amazon 

12. Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Design And Practice For Temperate-Climate Permaculture 

by Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeier

The Author
Dave is a passionate teacher of ecological design and permaculture. He is also a designer and consultant and has designed landscapes, homes, farms, and communities in the United States and abroad.

The Book
This is a two-volume permaculture book that looks at the concept of forest ecology and how it affects the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I provides a great overview of the concept of forest gardening and the basic ecological principles that make it work. 

In volume II, the book takes it a step further to explain how to design, build and maintain your forest garden. It presents case studies, tables, illustrations, and a list of the best plant species. Both books are excellent resources for those who want to pursue an advanced course in ecological gardening. 

Buy on Amazon

13. Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm 

by Darrell Frey 

The Author
Darrell Frey is an author and a permaculture design consultant. He owns and manages a permaculture farm in Western Pennsylvania. He has also been a permaculture teacher and consultant for years.    

The Book
If you are looking to make a living from the permaculture lifestyle, this book serves as a great inspiration. This book explains creating a sustainable food system using an in-depth case study of Pennsylvania's Three Sisters Farm. It uses illustrations and details of a permaculture design and at the same time, the management of a permaculture farm. You are sure to get a wealth of information on permaculture principles to guide your organic gardening ambitions. 

Buy on Amazon

14. Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape 

by Brad Lancaster    

The Author 
Brad Lancaster is an author, teacher, and designer of regenerative systems. He has taught across several continents, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. He has worked to legalize and provide guidance for water harvesting systems in several cities. He aims to boost the health and wealth of many communities. 

The Book 
This two-volume set book goes through various rainwater harvesting techniques. It guides you on ways to conceptualize, design, and create natural harvesting systems for your home and community.

The book contains strategies and illustrations that teach you to conserve natural resources like water. With skills on how to control your water harvesting system, you can reduce your cost of living and notch up the skills that enable you to become self-reliant. 

Buy on Amazon

15. Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests 

by Ken Mudge

The Author 
Ken Mudge is a teacher and researcher with twenty years of experience in agroforestry research and teaching. He teaches various courses, including a practicum in forest farming, plant propagation, and grafting. 

The Book 
This book provides a detailed guide for farmers and gardeners with an established woodland. It is in search of innovative ways to build a natural forest ecosystem that provides year-round food, medicine, and other products.

This is a must-read for farmers and gardeners who want to incorporate various aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, and sustainable woodland management into their whole farm. 

Buy on Amazon

16. The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience

By Toby Hemenway 

The Author 
Toby Hemenway was an American author and educator. He wrote mainly on permaculture and other ecological matters. He presented lectures at various sustainability conferences and workshops. He also worked as a researcher in genetics and immunology. He died at the age of 64 in 2016. 

The Book 
This book focuses on permaculture in cities and urban areas. It teaches readers how to design an urban home garden, illustrating methods and techniques for gardening. It also gives practical examples on how to create enough food, close communities, and a sustainable policy for towns and cities. With this book, you can understand the harmony between nature and how we can make better decisions for our world. 

Buy on Amazon

Conclusion 

Permaculture is a concept that has been around for many years. Whether you are looking to create a backyard farm or an entire farmhouse, you will find one book to help you on your journey to sustainable living. These books stem from famous authors and experts of permaculture, including its originator, Bill Mollison. 

1

David Holmgren (2020) Essence of Permaculture (pdf) Revised edition 2020.

Jennifer is a content writer with an educational background in Public Relations and Advertising. From her desk in Lagos, Nigeria, she helps businesses around the world reach and connect with their audiences.
Photo by Lisa from Pexels
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