Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

Gaia's Garden Cover

Gaia’s Garden has been the best-selling permaculture book in the world for the last 7 years. The enlarged, updated 2nd edition is the winner of the 2011 Nautilus Gold Medal Award.

The first edition of Gaia’s Garden sparked the imagination of America’s home gardeners, introducing permaculture’s central message: Working with nature, not against her, results in more beautiful, abundant, and forgiving gardens. This extensively revised and expanded second edition broadens the reach and depth of the permaculture approach for urban and suburban growers.

Selected Excerpts from Gaia’s Garden:

Ecological gardening—which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants—can be done on any scale. It’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:

  • Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure
  • Catching and conserving water in the landscape
  • Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals
  • Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods

This revised and updated edition also features a new chapter on urban permaculture, designed for people in cities and suburbs with limited growing space. Whatever size yard or garden you have to work with, you can apply basic permaculture principles to make it more diverse, more natural, more productive, and more beautiful. Best of all, once it’s established, an ecological garden will reduce or eliminate most of the work that’s needed to maintain the typical lawn and garden.

Click here to buy Gaia’s Garden

Gaia’s Garden was named one of the top ten gardening books of 2009 by The Washington Post.

Here’s what reviewers are saying:

“The world didn’t come with an operating manual, so it’s a good thing that some wise people have from time to time written them. Gaia’s Garden is one of the more important, a book that will be absolutely necessary in the world ahead.”

—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and Hope, Human and Wild

“Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden will be recorded in history as a milestone for gardeners and landscapers—a fusion of the practical and the visionary—using the natural intelligence of Earth’s symbiotic communities to strengthen and sustain ecosystems in which humans are a partner, not a competitor. An amazing achievement showing how we can and must live in harmony with nature!”

—Paul Stamets, author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

“Permaculture gardens are no longer a thing of the future. They are here to stay and flourish. Gaia’s Garden is enlightening and required reading for all people who desire to make their home’s landscape healthy, sustainable, and healing.”

—Robert Kourik, publisher and author of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape—Naturally.

Gaia’s Garden is simply the best permaculture book ever written, and is in the running for best gardening book ever written. No one should be without it.”

—Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front.

“Takes the native plants and organic gardening movement to the next level.”

—Joel M. Lerner, The Washington Post

“A bold, wonderful, nature-embracing and completely sensible vision of the future.”

—Justin Siskin, Los Angeles Daily News

“Practical science for making your yard produce food and beauty.”

—Rose O’Donnell, The Seattle Times

“A gardener’s blueprint for ecological abundance from the ground up.”

—Steve Spreckel, Acres USA

“Outlines a revolutionary course for the future of gardening and agriculture.”

—Dr. John Todd, founder of The New Alchemy Institute.

What Permaculture Isn’t – and Is

August 17, 2013 | By | 1 Reply



Flickr-greens-PermaCulturedToby Hemenway, Guest
Waking Times

Permaculture is notoriously hard to define. A recent survey shows that people simultaneously believe it is a design approach, a philosophy, a movement, and a set of practices. This broad and contradiction-laden brush doesn’t just make permaculture hard to describe. It can be off-putting, too. Let’s say you first encounter permaculture as a potent method of food production and are just starting to grasp that it is more than that, when someone tells you that it also includes goddess spirituality, and anti-GMO activism, and barefoot living. What would you make of that? And how many people think they’ve finally got the politics of permaculturists all figured out, and assume that we would logically also be vegetarians, only to find militant meat-eaters in the ranks? What kind of philosophy could possibly umbrella all those divergent views? Or is it a philosophy at all? I’m going to argue here that the most accurate and least muddled way to think of permaculture is as a design approach, and that we are often misdirected by the fact that it fits into a larger philosophy and movement which it supports. But it is not that philosophy or movement. It is a design approach for realizing a new paradigm. And we’ll find that this way of defining it is also a balm to those in other ecological design fields and technologies who get annoyed, understandably, when permaculturists tell them, “Oh, yes, your work is part of permaculture, too.”

Humans are a problem-solving species. We uncover challenges—How do we get food? How do we make shelter? How do we stay healthy?—and then we develop tools to solve those problems. Permaculture is one of those tools. For the last 10,000 years, agriculture and the civilization it built have been the way humans attacked the problems of meeting basic needs. Because we live on a planet that for millennia was large compared to the human population and its needs and impact, our species could focus on expanding and improving agriculture’s immense power to convert wild ecosystems into food and habitat for people, and we could ignore ecosystem health. But our industrial civilization of seven billion is chewing up ecosystems relentlessly. We are learning that without healthy ecosystems, humans—and everything else—suffer. So we cannot focus solely on the problem, “How do we meet human needs?” but must now add the words, “while preserving ecosystem health.” Rafter Ferguson has offered that question as a definition of permaculture. He’s onto something, though I think that “meeting human needs while preserving and increasing ecosystem health” is the goal of permaculture, and not its definition. But it gives some clues toward defining it, and helps untangle the knots wrapped around “What is permaculture?” It names and clarifies the problem that permaculture is trying to solve. Continue reading