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Saturday
Jun302012

Permaculture: a designer's manual

A compendium, not only of agroecological wisdom, but also of the author’s trademark wit, Permaculture: a designer’s manual remains the comprehensive reference text for permaculture designers and students around the world. Mollison’s bible, superbly illustrated by Andrew Jeeves and Reny Mia Slay, is still an irresistible adventure for this permaculturist, twenty-odd years after having first laid eyes on it; the kind of book one can open at any page, and be captured at once.

Visionary chapters on Permaculture ethics, patterns, earthworks and aquaculture, among many others, helped birth a global movement of grassroots activists and rebirth more than a few cottage-industries.  The author’s knack for cutting to the philosophical heart of our systemic failures and inequities, and proposing practicable solutions to them, combines with a depth of field and detail in text and illustration, to render this one of the most important works of popular non-fiction of the twentieth century.

The original edition was self-published by an independent firm (Tagari) which Bill established for the purpose, with the first print runs being paid for by sales in advance of printing - an innovative business model at the time.  Features such as this, and the voluntary “Tree Tax”, included in the sale price of the book (yet to become standard practice in a forest-hungry industry) testify to the author’s innovative approach to everything, including publishing, and mean that this book walks its talk as well.

No slim field guide, the Designer’s Manual is well worth its weight in gold.  Thankfully it only costs a fraction of that: around AU$100 per 1.4kg.  It’s also quite a bit more useful.

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