Recently, Will from Australia contacted me asking what books I would read as an introduction to permaculture. That lead to these thoughts.
If I were starting over again, knowing what I know now, my reading list would be, in this order:
Masanobu Fukuoka The One-Straw Revolution
Rosemary Morrow Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture 2nd Ed.
David Holmgren Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability
Fukuoka provides a philosophy and mindset that prepares you for the later material from Holmgren, with the former being much easier to read than the latter. Fukuoka was an influence on Permaculture as a whole which makes this a good place to begin.
I like Morrow’s book as an introduction to design over some of the others because her experience as a teacher makes the material more accessible. The format reminds me more of a workbook where you are actively teaching yourself something than passively reading along. Also, Rob Allsop’s line drawings are both functionally beautiful and sometimes whimsical, while relaying all the necessary information.
Holmgren’s work concentrates on the principles as a framework to expand on the overarching themes of permaculture, and it’s obvious he thinks about this a great deal, which is reflected even more when you listen to the interview with him. Fukuoka and Morrow lay the groundwork to read Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.
I recommend purchasing books directly from the publisher or author whenever possible. Though you may pay more this way than through a large book store, buying directly puts more of our resources into the hands of those people who will use it to produce more of these important works. Again, to me, the third ethic of permaculture in practice.