I get a lot of questions about permaculture resources, so I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page with a list of books, videos, and courses to which I can point people. I’ll add to it as I learn more, but it’s a comprehensive list for now.
There is a lot of material here. I haven’t read all the books, watched all the videos, or taken all the courses, but everything I included in the list comes highly recommended by the people in the permaculture community. I recommend bookmarking this site for your reference. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
- 1 THE BIG PICTURE
- 2 INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE
- 3 PERMACULTURE DESIGN
- 4 UNDERSTANDING SOIL
- 5 GROWING – PLANT GUIDES, PROPAGATION, GARDENING
- 6 STARTING OUT WITH THE PERMACULTURE FARM
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. There is no additional cost to you. Think of it as a way to support my work.
THE BIG PICTURE
Many people don’t know that Permaculture as a design system specifically evolved over the last 30 years to creatively respond to futures that involve progressively less and less available energy. Its emergence was very much influenced by the publication of the seminal Limits To Growth report in 1972; both Bill Mollison and David Holmgren believed that permaculture was going to be projected into a collapsing world…the books and websites below are a great starting point if you want to learn more about where we’re headed as a society and what to expect.
- Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change
- Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future
- The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment
- The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
- The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security
- Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting
- When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, 2nd Edition
- Peak Prosperity: Crash Course
- National Intelligence Council Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds
- Future Scenarios by David Holmgren
INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE
If you’re new to permaculture, start by reading Gaia’s Garden, this is the best introductory book for newcomers. Watch some free videos from Geoff Lawton to get an idea of what’s possible with permaculture. A brief introduction to the permaculture course is great for getting some background on the subject. All these books are a great read, especially the practical insights of Sepp Holzer and Ben Falk.
- Introduction to Permaculture Revised Edition
- The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming
- Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
- The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach
- Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
- Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers
- Geoff Lawton’s free videos
- Sepp Holzer, the agro rebel video (free)
- INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective – website for the video
- Design for life: Permaculture – The Food Forest Story
- Restoration Agriculture in Practice
First and fourth-most, you’ll need A Designer’s Manual, this is the permaculture bible. Then watch Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Lecture Series, the videos from his two design courses. Another great resource is the Permaculture Skills DVD which distills 20 days of Permaculture Courses into 7.5 hours of instructional video learning. In this list, I also included some apps and software that you can use for your designs. If you feel stuck, I have written a guide on How to design your property, where I explain the process of Permaculture Design step by step.
- Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison
- Permaculture: The Essence by David Holmgren (free e-book)
- Regrarians Handbook by Darren J. Doherty
- The Bio-Integrated Farm by Shawn Jadrnicek
- A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
- Permaculture Skills: Cold Climate, Applied Permaculture Design Course
- Introduction to Permaculture Design by Geoff Lawton
- Permaculture Principles and Design Series with Jack Spirko (free)
- Bill Mollison Permaculture Lecture Series, On-Line (free)
- Permaculture Design Course with Scott Pittman
Apps and Software:
Building soil for better crops is an excellent free resource and a guide to ecological soil management. All other books are also essential for a better understanding the soil’s web of life. Elaine Ingham’s and Gabe Brown’s videos are a must-watch. Also, there are good courses on soil restoration, but they’re rather expensive, so before delving into those, read all the books you can get your hands on, and while you’re at it, read my guide on building deep rich soils by imitating nature.
- Building Soils for Better Crops, 3rd Edition (free)
- Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web
- Roots Demystified: Change Your Gardening Habits to Help Roots Thrive
- Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World
- Gardener’s Guide to Better Soil
- Soil biology primer by Elaine R Ingham
- Permaculture Soils with Geoff Lawton
- Elaine Ingham Videos (free)
- Gabe Brown: Keys To Building a Healthy Soil (free)
GROWING – PLANT GUIDES, PROPAGATION, GARDENING
Plants guides & Indexes
To start growing something, you’ll need trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. If you’re after seeds, The Seed Search by Karen Platt is the best book to find any kind of seeds imageable. Plants For a Future is a wonderful web database for finding potential plants to grow, and all the books I mentioned have detailed descriptions of the plants you might want to get. I also included Picture This app that can recognize plants based on the leaf photo you take with your smartphone.
- Plants for a Future: Edible & Useful Plants for a Healthier World
- Permaculture Plants: A Selection by Jeff Nugent
- Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Edibles
Apps and Databases:
This will be one of your most important skills as a permaculturist, and it saves you money too. There are many resources on the web about propagation, but if I had to recommend only one, it would be the American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation book. The Grafter’s Handbook is one of the best books on grafting. For video tutorials on different plant propagation techniques and nursery setups, check Mike’s Backyard Nursery youtube channel.
- The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and Shrubs
- Seed Germination Theory and Practice; by Professor Norman C. Deno (free PDF)
- Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition
- The Grafter’s Handbook by Robert Garner 1979.
- American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques
- The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture
Small Scale Vegetable Gardening
There is a saying, ‘growing your food is like printing your money,’ and realistically, you don’t need that much space to produce enough food for your own needs. Start with Square Foot Gardening and fundamentals and read other books to build upon that.
- All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space
- The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book: Secrets of the Famous Year-Round Mulch Method
- The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times
- How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition
- Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
- Four-Season Harvest Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long
- The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
You can learn how to design your productive environment using vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs with these two great how-to manuals.
- Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist: How to Have Your Yard and Eat It Too
- Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally
Forest gardening and Food Forests
Want to create a food forest on your land? Read Martin Crawford’s Creating a Forest Garden first; it’s simple, practical, and straight to the point. If you want more advanced stuff, read Edible Forest Gardens or my step-by-step guide, where I summarise all the info from the books into an easy-to-follow guide.
- Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
- Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops
- Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape, 2nd Edition
- Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests
- Forest Ecology
- Creating your Permaculture Heaven: How to Design and Create Your own Backyard Food Forest
- A Permaculture Designed Food Forest Course by Michael Pilarski
- Food Forest Design & Care for Cites and Suburbs by Toby Hemenway
Fungi and Growing Mushrooms
- Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation
- Radical Mycology A Treatise on Seeing and Working with Fungi
- Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility
- Teaming with Fungi: The Organic Grower’s Guide to Mycorrhizae (Science for Gardeners)
STARTING OUT WITH THE PERMACULTURE FARM
Finances and decision-making
You have to start from somewhere, so read Your money or your life to ask yourself some life-changing questions. Then, learn how to save money for your farm by reading Early retirement extreme and do what it takes to be mortgage free like Rob Roy recommends. Be guided by your holistic goals in planning the future you want and deciding where to settle.
- Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence
- Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence
- Mortgage Free!: Innovative Strategies for Debt-Free Home Ownership, 2nd Edition
- Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making
Examples of successful farms
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel; read about examples of how others are running their farms and making a living out of it.
- Polyface Documentary
- Paradise Lot/Food Forest Farm: Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates – 1/10 acre suburban backyard
- Whole Systems Design: Ben Falk – 10-acre farmstead
- Melliodora: David Holmgren – 2-acre homestead in a small rural township
- Miracle Farms: Stefan Sobkowiak – 5-acre commercial permaculture orchard
- Les Jardins de LaGrelinette: Jean-Martin Fortier – 1.5-acre market garden
- Food Forest: Annemarie and Graham Brookman – 37-acre permaculture farm and learning centre
- New Forest Farm: Mark Shepard – 100 broad acre silvopasture farm
Water management and earthworks
The first thing you’ll need to set up on your farm is water systems and learn how to harvest, store and redistribute that water. There are many resources on the subject, all books below are well worth a read. Geoff specializes in water-harvesting earthworks, so his DVD is good to watch. Paul Wheaton’s 3-DVD set is also a wealth of information on earthworks and hugelkultures.
- Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building, and Using Greywater Systems, Includes Branched Drains
- Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks
- Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape
- Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond (Vol. 2): Water-Harvesting Earthworks
- Water for Every Farm – Yeomans Keyline Plan by P. A and Ken Yeomans.
- World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set – Earthworks and Hugelkultur by Paul Wheaton
- Harvesting Water by Geoff Lawton
Market Gardening is the quickest way to earn income from your farm, but it requires knowledge, practice, and dedication. Elliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower is a classic; start with that. If you’re serious about gearing up some production and selling it to the market, read The Market Gardener. This is the manual for market gardening. I also wrote a pretty popular post about his operation.
- The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener
- The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-scale Organic Farming
- Market Farming Success: The Business of Growing and Selling Local Food
- The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land by Curtis Allen Stone
- The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer: The Ultimate Guide to Producing High-Quality Herbs on a Market Scale
Permaculture orchards, tree crops, and agroforestry
If you’re planning an orchard or have an existing one that you want to covert, read The Holistic orchard for a great introduction to the subject, then watch the Permaculture Orchard DVD as a reference on how to set it up. Read my post, where I go into detail about Stefan’s operation. Scaling up, Edible Agroforestry Designs is an amazing free resource for setting up agroforestry systems.
- The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way
- Restoration Forestry: An International Guide to Sustainable Forestry Practices
- The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach To Sustainable Woodland Management
- Edible Agroforestry Designs: Large-scale edible landscaping (free)
- Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts: The New Resilient Crop for a Changing Climate
With animals comes the responsibility and a great opportunity for improving the soil, healthy food, and profits. I recommend reading Holistic Management Handbook, an excellent guide on implementing holistic management. Then read Joel’s books on his proven systems of pastured poultry and cattle and Greg Judy’s No risk ranching. If you’re into keeping chickens, Justin’s Rhodes Permaculture Chicken is the video to watch.
- Salad Bar Beef
- Pastured Poultry Profit$
- Holistic Management Handbook: Healthy Land, Healthy Profits
- No Risk Ranching: Custom Grazing on Leased Land
Selling, Marketing, and Business
Let’s talk business. If you want to make your farm financially sustainable. Read Joe’s inspirational You Can Farm and Booker T. Whatley’s Handbook for inspiration and great advice. Learn how to manage finances with The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook. The other two books don’t have much to do with farming but are essential to understanding marketing and selling.
- The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff – and Making a Profit
- You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise
- Booker T. Whatley’s Handbook on How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres: With Special Plans for Prospering on 10 to 200 Acres
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
- The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible
- The Lean Farm: How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work
All right, I hope you found yourself an interesting resource.
In the comments below, let me know what other resources you recommend. I’m always looking to improve the page with new helpful materials.