Sunday, July 5, 2009

Permaculture Bible

I have started reading Bill Mollison's "Permaculture A Designers' Manual". Bill is a founding father of permaculture. This is a very profound book. First it impresses with its thickness, 600 pages. Second it impresses with it vision and history. The first edition dates back to 1988. It added new and additional shades to the term "permaculture" to me. I have seen a dozen or so permaculture videos and read two books touching onto permaculture, but these videos and books - using a visual comparison - seem to describe the leaves of a tree. Bill's book describes the tree with its deep often unseen roots. It starts with issues such as ethics. Permaculture is not about an ecological garden providing us our healthy food. All of this is good and worth encouraging of course. But to him permaculture starts with the fact that our planet inhabits thousands of species and we are just one one them. Our responsibility it to not interfere with any of them, our first job is to bring nature - damaged by us - back into a sustainable healthy state. Only thereafter can we think about reaping some secondary benefits from nature - such as the eco garden providing us with nutritious food. We have to be humble and go though a couple of "educational" phases first, including the feeding/healing of nature before we should set out to build our garden, orchard, forest or farm. The ethical guidelines underlying this book are so simple (we are temporary guests in this planet formed by nature and we should respect all life forms), yet so hard to live up to in our current world. Anyone trying to follow the presented ethics is easily seen as crazy or an extremist.

It is no surprise that this book is called the bible of permaculture, thick and profound.

Even though I haven't finished reading the book I can only recommend it to anyone. It will take you on a journey down into the deep roots of this majestic tree where sustainable gardening turns into philosophy and a scale on which to weigh all questions and decisions of life.

The book is of great value but a bit pricey. There is a very short and incomplete open source book on permaculture design available as a wiki book. It does not substitute Bill's book, but it is better than nothing and it is free.

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