Most people don’t go right out and take a PDC when they hear about permaculture, instead they get books from the library.
And most people also have lives, and can’t just take two weeks off work and away from family to go to a PDC either.
So they read books and maybe someday take a PDC. That’s what I did.
You may also be looking for a gift idea for the permie in your life, and you really can’t go wrong with any of these titles.
Here’s 5 of the best permaculture books I’ve found.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links that give us a small commission at no cost to you. See the Disclosures page for more info.
Also, if you like getting free tools, sign up for the tool giveaway in the sidebar. Matt from The Tool Merchants gives away free stuff. Pretty awesome!
But first, a word on the authors.
As an author, I think it would be unwise to write a book without having first-hand practical knowledge on the subject.
And not simply academic information.
This is why you will see many permaculture authors are educators as well as consultants and actively practice permaculture in their field.
They have wisdom as well as knowledge, and lots of good ideas about the best way to go about some task.
The images are linked to their amazon page, so just click to get more info on them.
Now, on to the books!
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway
This one of the most approachable books on permaculture, and the best-selling one for the last several years.
If you’re just getting into permaculture or want to see how to apply permaculture in a backyard setting, get this book!
It’s focused on backyard implementations, and is one of the most popular book on the subject.
The book’s tables are a handy reference to find plants to fill certain niches.
It has tons of great info and is very easy to read and apply.
Toby was a permaculture teacher, lecturer, and consultant on many different projects. He focused on small-area and urban permaculture.
Sadly, Toby passed away in 2016, the same year as Bill Mollison, permaculture’s co-founder.
The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates by Patrick Whitefield
It’s an excellent reference and practical applications book, and touches on many many different areas.
He focuses on solutions rather than being concerned with problems.
This is a highly recommended book, especially for temperate climate permies!
He also published several other permaculture and related books.
Patrick was a UK permaculture teacher and consultant, and so he has lots of practical experience with permaculture.
Like Sepp Holzer (see his book below) Patrick developed his own approach to permaculture.
Patrick appeared in several BBC television programs about permaculture and sustainable living, as well as making YouTube videos and was a consulting editor for Permaculture Magazine.
He died in early 2015.
Edible Forest Gardens vol. 1 & 2 by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier
This is a two-volume set that contains many tables and lots of great information.
Are they a little expensive? Yes, but totally worth it!
Of course, the set is for more than just food forests. They cover many different ideas about permaculture so that you understand the reasons behind the principles and ideas.
The books were written because at the time most food forest information was for tropical or semi-tropical climates, not for temperate places where snow and sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures are common.
Dave and Eric live in the northeast US and have done an amazing job putting together this information.
Also, both Dave and Eric are permaculture teachers and consultants, and did a ton of research for these information-packed books.
No permaculture practitioner should be without them!
Thankfully, they are both still alive (unlike the previous two authors) and will hopefully contribute to permaculture’s knowledge for a long time.
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture by Sepp Holzer
At his Kramaterhof alpine farm, he gets about 30-40cm rainfall, which helps to fill his 72 (yeah 72!) ponds on this unique 110-acre mountainside property.
Now, because he isn’t from the UK or US, he sometimes explains things in a different way than we are used to hearing them.
This is a good thing! I found that I understood some ideas in a new way after reading this book.
Sepp uses permaculture, but also pushes beyond it in some ways. He has a saying that “Wasser ist Leben” meaning water is life.
There’s nowhere that is more true than in a desert.
He uses water for power, growing trees and plants, and keeping fish and water stocks healthy.
This book has so many wonderful explanations and ideas in it. I had to stop and put it down to think about some of these at times.
When I picked it back up, it made even more sense and I saw more application areas.
This is a great book and deserves a spot on your shelf.
The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk
I really respect that he does continuous testing, development and improvement in his wet cold climate in Vermont.
His approach to permaculture home/homestead design is unique from others I’ve seen. He takes you through the process of designing in a practical, helpful way.
There is also a ton of great info here, about what ideas worked, what didn’t, and how best to apply permaculture to your farm or homestead. He covers so many aspects of sustainable homestead creation. From waterfowl and dogs to tree and berry crops, to firewood and home building, there’s so much great stuff!
These are awesome books. Read them over the winter and be ready to go full-speed-ahead come spring.
But all of them are worth getting and devouring. Read them in front of a fire while the snow falls outside, drinking a hot cider or chocolate.
- Permaculture for the Rest of Us by Jenni Blackmore (permaculture on small acreage)
- The Permaculture City by Toby Hemenway (his last book)
- The Permaculture Student 1 & The Permaculture Student 2 by Matt Powers
- The Permaculture Orchard – DVD
- The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips
- Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J Russel Smith
- Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren (permaculture’s co-founder)
- Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison (the “bible”, from permaculture’s co-founder)
- Permaculture One by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren & Permaculture Two by Bill Mollison
- Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison
If you’d like to know more ways to live better, we’ve partnered with Claire Goodall to offer the Everyday Roots ebook. It’s over 350 pages of home remedies, natural beauty recipes, and DIY household products.
This ebook shows you how to protect yourself and your family from toxic products and use healthier, all-natural alternatives. For more info Click Here or on the pictures!
OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about permaculture books, sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
FREE Lazy Gardener's Guide to Homestead Management
What to plan, do, and buy each month to keep your sustainable homestead on track.
Never forget important tasks again, and get lots of stuff done!
And you get our latest content by email. We usually publish new stuff twice a week.