The Permaculture Handbook
by Peter Bane
New Society Publishers, 2012
Book Review by Janine Banks
I could not put this more than 400 page book down. It is very well written and packed with information on the whole permaculture process starting with attitudes where he introduces the big-picture role of permaculture in helping solve the problems facing the earth and it’s inhabitants. This is where he introduces the permaculture principles and a design language based on another of my favourite books, A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander and others.
Then Bane moves on to elements and covers the practical work of land and labour, water and soil, plants and animals, and structures, energy and technology. This second section is very practical and hands-on, taking up more than half the book and covers in detail everything to do with gardening and trees, how animals fit into a permaculture system (poultry, bees, pigs, goats, cows, horses, rabbits, sheep, guinea pigs (there is a recipe for guinea pig or cavi as they’re called), llamas, etc) and how to use the sun and rain effectively and how to build and care for the soil.
The third section is back to big picture stuff with discussions of food and nutrition, medicinal weeds, composting toilets, foraging, the neighbours, building community, markets and outreach, and how to work with climate change. He also writes about making the change whether you are starting with an existing garden and buildings or starting anew. This is a very thorough book and also very easy to read, despite the amount of information and detail.
There are four diverse case studies of permaculture garden farms scattered through the book that also keep everything well-grounded and practical and real.
Peter Bane’s sense of humour shines through it all, lifting it from any textbook dullness. He makes no effort to be anywhere else on the planet but the USA which is fine (and not unusual) as we Aussies are more flexible and skilled at translating between northern and southern hemispheres and different environments. I found it easy to transfer the information from the northern hemisphere to our own.
And he’s very real about our current situation with climate change and overuse of resources. The whole book is down-to-earth and inspiring overall and I recommend it highly.