This bibliography is a work in progress and I will be updating and adding to it all the time! The current “library” we maintain is over 200 titles.
The number of books relevant to permaculture is immense. Here I try to break these down into progressive sections, somewhat aligned to one’s journey into permaculture, starting from the basics. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the titles available, but simply my suggestions for building out a permaculture library or pursuing this topic via the written word based on my own experience. At some point I will add other media beyond books to this list.
Getting Started / Foundational Material
Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison and Reny Slay. This is the first permaculture book I ever bought (at Carnegie Books in Olympia, WA in 1992!). Still a classic, with inspiring artwork that imparts the spirit of good design.
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway. Still one of the most accessible books for gardeners who may want to tip over into permaculture. I often give a gift of this book to design clients who are just getting into permaculture.
One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka. To understand the underpinnings.
A Pattern Language by Alexander, et al. Ditto as above. This is one to come back to at many different stages of your permaculture journey as its significance will awaken within you as your permaculture lens on the world gets stronger.
Edible Forest Gardens Vol I and II by Dave Jacke with Eric Toensmeir. Well worth the investment. Over time, it will become evident what a deep and profound gift these books are to our species. If we in the permaculture world are able to affect earth repair changes over the next few generations, it very well could be done based on the explicit and implicit wisdom contained in these volumes. This is not about gardening “in the forest,” but gardening “like the forest.”
Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier. To start understanding what is possible with perennial ecosystems.
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture by Sepp himself. Inspiring example from a large high altitude cold climate holding. Lots on earthworks, ponds, aquaculture, polyculture and more. Sepp has been living and breathing permaculture all his life, even before the word existed. You can access a considerable amount of free online videos to compliment this book.
Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison. This is “the” black book, not easy to get nor afford. For anyone pursuing permaculture design with any seriousness, you really should have this. Though permaculture continues to evolve as a design methodology, this is part of the canon and should be seen as such.
Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford. Absolutely excellent with stunning images.
Food Not Lawns by Heather Flores. A great activist-oriented take on permaculture for the people; lots of practical and affordable approaches for implementation.
Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren. David is the other originator of the permaculture concept and, while this book is not light reading, he really extends permaculture into the realms of what it can do, specifically, in a world of peak oil, climate change and volatility in general.
Permaculture Design by Aranya. A new edition to my list but I’m really taken with Aranya’s no-nonsense approach to design that anyone can adopt. He also models the ethos in permaculture that focuses on sharing and disseminating design skills and techniques as widely and quickly as possible.
People & Permaculture by Looby McNamara. Another new title to the list, but an extremely important addition that addresses the social side to permaculture, the human element in how we design our world and organize ourselves within our ecosystems. I hope for more social permaculture titles.
The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk. This is a great, experience-based work by Ben drawing from actual efforts and trials on his hillside homestead in Vermont. Good lessons for any sized permaculture site, especially his pattern language approach.
Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates. Is it possible to write a permaculture cliff hanger? Maybe just permaculture geeks like us will get excited about this book, but it is a very well-written and humble story about the unfolding of a shared permaculture life and urban lot upon which it flowers. I learned alot.
Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food & Medicinals in Temperate Forests by Steve Gabriel and Ken Mudge. Since so much of our region is wooded and not every property or design should call for cutting down the majority of trees, we need to figure out how to creatively stack functions in ecologically healthy woodlands. This book is a great resource for anyone with woods who wants to farm “in the forest” rather than farming “like the forest.”