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Permaculture in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition 3rd Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1856230032
ISBN-10: 1856230031
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Permaculture in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition
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  • Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
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  • The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (New York Review Books Classics)
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Editorial Reviews


This excellent little book serves as a very good introduction to the subject, covering all the basic elements of the subject, as well as illustrating it with examples more relevant to this climate than many of the Australian books. It is an excellent little book to give to people who know nothing about permaculture. It is beautifully illustrated and is the only permaculture book that you can fit in your back pocket (if you have large back pockets). Rob Hopkins, Co-founder of the Transition Movement

About the Author

Patrick Whitefield (1949 – 2015) was an early pioneer of permaculture, adapting Bill Mollison’s teachings with a strong Southern Hemisphere bias to the cooler, maritime climate of the British Isles. He wrote a number of seminal books, including Permaculture in a Nutshell (1993), How to Make a Forest Garden (1996), The Living Landscape (2009), How To Read the Landscape (2014) and his magnum opus, The Earth Care Manual (2004), an authoritative resource on practical, tested, cool temperate permaculture. Patrick appeared in several BBC TV programmes, popular gardening videos, and taught many permaculture and other practical courses, throughout the UK.

Jonathon Porritt co-chaired the UK Green Party from 1980-83, and acted as the director of Friends of the Earth from 1984-1990. In 1996 he co-founded Forum for the Future and was Chair of the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission from 2000-2009, receiving a CBE for services to environmental protection. He has written eight books, including Capitalism As If The World Matters (2007) and The World We Made (2013).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: Permanent Publications; 3 edition (January 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856230031
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856230032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an informative, short and cheap general introduction to permaculture, the design of sustainable living. It has been re-issued due to popular demand. Experienced British permaculture designer and teacher Patrick Whitefield explains how permaculture can enrich our lives in the city, on the farm and in the community.
In brief, permaculture focuses on the conscious design of efficient ecological systems.
'Work = any need not met by the system. Pollution = any output not met by the system' (p. 14)
So it is immediately apparent that by careful design both work and pollution can be minimised. Nature, of course, does this without having to think about it, which is why permaculture systems attempt to emulate natural processes.
Though this book is less than a hundred pages long, it has enough detail to get you started on some serious practical projects. The information on 'making a mulch bed' transformed my stony, undiggable back yard into a highly productive vegetable garden in just one growing season, with very little effort (and thankfully no digging!). The book also includes plenty of contact details for taking permaculture further, which, after reading Permaculture in a Nutshell, you will be unable to resist!
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I'm perplexed as to why the Dutch reviewer is so dissatisfied with this little primer on permaculture. From where I sit, Patrick Whitefield has done a marvelous job of introducing the worldview and techniques of permaculture to beginners.
Permaculture is above all a new way of envisioning the world and our (human) relationship to it such that we become sensitive to the vast interconnectedness of species. To live and grow food permaculturally is to work with rather than against nature. The two cardinal principles of permaculture is that work is any need not met by the eco-system in which one dwells, and pollution is any output not absorbable by the eco-system. The permaculturalist seeks to design living and food-producing systems such that both work and pollution are minimalized.
Permaculture, which flows from the deep ecology sensibility that the world's natural resources are limited and in many cases nonrenewable, encourages us to rethink what we mean by community. Community isn't exclusively human, and it isn't a gridwork suburb carved out of the natural terrain. It's instead an environment in which "useful connections between different elements in a system" are recognized and nurtured "so that as many inputs as possible are provided from within the system, and as many of the outputs as possible are used within it." (p. 53) When you think about it, this understanding of community applies to human families, urban neighborhoods, bioregional groupings, and so on. Reenvisioning community in this way leaves a lighter footprint upon the earth and improves the quality of life for all species in the process.
Whitefield's book is a good starting place for anyone who wishes to simplify their life, nurture the good earth, and improve the lot of all species. Give it a read and rediscover what our ancestors knew but we've forgotten: that humans must live in harmony with nature or cease to live.
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After learning about Permaculture from a friend, I wanted to learn more about designing sustainable human settlements to solve many of the world's problems. This is a summary of that educational journey. Skip to the last two paragraphs for the details on this particular book.

I started by purchasing Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren (286 pages). This was NOT a good choice to learn about Permaculture. Another reviewer reflects my view perfectly on that book:

I couldn't wrap my head around Holmgren's style of prose, and the layout and ideas in this book. It is wordy, meandering, and confusing - and I found myself lost in chapter after chapter as Holmgren's explanations went way over my head, leaving me confused and befuddled. This would not be a good introduction to Permaculture, and no good at all as a teaching book or textbook.

While I did find some good ideas in his book - it was difficult to get through. As an aside, I can put in a good word for David Holmgren for his other book: Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change (136 pages) He must have a new editor or a ghost writer now - This is an amazing book, easy to read, and I can easily recommend it for all audiences, both experienced and those new to these concepts (a great introduction filled with new perspectives) - definitely worth the $12.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful introduction to permaculture, by an experienced writer (How to Make a Forest Garden) and practitioner. PN lays out the basic principles of permaculture theory in an easy-to-understand, no-nonsense manner, providing pertinent examples and diagrams for clarity when necessary. For more a more in-depth look at this fascinating, important subject, see Permaculture: A Design Manuel by Bill Mollison or Permaculture: Principles and Pathways by David Holmgren. Finally, a note one Whitefield's statisics. Despite what some have said, they are accurate. Read Natural Capitalism for verification.
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