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best permaculture book for less than an acre


We've started something new here on permies! Last month we tried out our first "Best of" poll. It morphed from a a discussion about the Level 9 People on the Wheaton Eco Scale, and into the Top 100 People of Permaculture, and soon we will have the Permies.com Permaculture Leader Maestro Award.

This has been a lot of fun, and we've really refined the poll in the process, so now we're trying our next poll for...

What is the best permaculture book for people on less than an acre!

Like in our Top People of Permaculture poll, we'll determine this though three metrics:

     - apple poll
     - people's choice poll
     - poor man's poll


From these results, we'll give out the Apple and People's Choice awards. AND, the we'll use them to select the judges to determine the Maestro Award for Best Permaculture Book for People on Less than an Acre!

Here's How to Vote!

Apple Poll: Use your apples to vote in the below poll. The apple maximum is set to 20 apples (if you have 3 apples, you get 3 votes. If you have 105 apples, you get 20 votes. If you have 1,234 apples, you get just 20 votes) to apply however they want to their favorite polls.

People's Choice Poll: Use your thumbs to vote in the apple poll to vote for your #1. Everyone gets 1 thumb (people with pie get 2 thumbs)

Poor Man's Poll: Scroll through the replies to the thread and give thumbs to everyone you think belongs to be the next Permies.com "Best of" Poll. We call this kind of voting a "Poor Man's Poll."

"But, but, I think this poll should be on the list!"

Wonderful! Just post your poll idea down in the comments, and we'll add it to the poll!

Please: One poll idea per post! We can't tally up "Poor Man" votes if you have more than one poll idea per post!

COMMENTS:
 
steward
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Anyone can add suggestions for the poll! Just give each book it's own post so that we know which "poor man" poll votes go to which vote. You can just suggest the book title and author, or give a little summary like I did below.




"Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties" by Carol Deppe

Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:

- how to breed for a wide range of different traits (flavor, size, shape, or color; cold or heat tolerance; pest and disease resistance; and regional adaptation)
- how to save seed and maintain varieties
- how to conduct your own variety trials and other farm- or garden-based research
- how to breed for performance under organic or sustainable growing methods

 
Nicole Alderman
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The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe

In an age of erratic weather and instability, people's interest in growing their own food is skyrocketing. The Resilient Gardener presents gardening techniques that stand up to challenges ranging from health problems, financial problems, and special dietary needs to serious disasters and climate change.

 
Nicole Alderman
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"The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity" by Carol Deppe

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. In her latest book, groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe (The Resilient Gardener, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties) focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.

 
Nicole Alderman
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"The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem" by Christopher Shein

Once a fringe topic, permaculture is moving to the mainstream as organic gardeners discover the wisdom of a simple system that emphasizes the simple idea that by taking care of the earth, the earth takes care of you. The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture is for home gardeners of every skill—with any size space—who want to live in harmony with nature to produce and share an abundant food supply with minimal effort. Christopher Shein highlights everything you need to know to start living off the land lightly. You’ll learn how to create rich, healthy, and low-cost soil, blend a functional food garden and decorative landscape, share the bounty with others, and much more.

 
Nicole Alderman
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"Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community" by H. C. Flores

 
Nicole Alderman
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"60-Minute Vegetable Garden: Just One Hour a Week for the Most Productive Vegetable Garden" by Jeff Bal

First published in 1985, this guide brings together the author's ten years of research and his unsurpassed expertise to create an innovative vegetable growing system that not only extends the growing season from early spring to early winter, but requires just 60 minutes of work each week.

 
Nicole Alderman
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"Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre" by Jenni Blackmore

Jenni Blackmore presents a highly personal, entertaining account of how permaculture can be practiced in adverse conditions. Permaculture for the Rest of Us describes how to retrofit even the smallest homestead, illustrating the fundamental principles of this sometimes confusing concept in a humorous, reader-friendly way.

 
Nicole Alderman
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The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

This book is about the innovative farming system that Masanobu Fukuoka developed to be more in harmony with the natural world. Fukuoka talks about his "Do-Nothing" farming philosophy, growing grains, growing vegetables like wild plants, his orchards and much more.

 
Nicole Alderman
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"Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist" by Michael Judd

In this book, Michael Judd showcases how to move from a yard full of inedible grass to a space loaded with food. Readers can follow along with the aid of hundreds of color photographs and practical designs. Just like Michael says in the book's subtitle, 'You Can Have Your Yard and Eat it Too.'

 
Nicole Alderman
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"Building a Better World in your Backyard" Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop

From the Introduction:
"For nearly every global problem, there are solutions we can implement in our backyard that also save us money and help us live more luxuriant lives. A few of us do these things and bask in the glow of the opulence and extra cash. Others observe and think "I want extra luxury and money too! Not fair!” and then they emulate. And on and on it goes. Then the global problems sorta just dry up and blow away. That’s what this book is all about.

I think the reason we see so many people angry is because they authentically care. But they seem to get stuck at being angry. Some people spend a hundred hours a week for 20 years being angry and not much changes. But I think that if you spend a tiny fraction of that time doing the things mentioned in this book, your global positive impact will be a thousand times greater."

 
Nicole Alderman
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The Permaculture Handbook, GARDEN FARMING for Town and Country by Peter Bane

The Permaculture Handbook is a step-by-step, beautifully illustrated guide to creating resilient and prosperous households and neighborhoods, complemented by extensive case studies of three successful farmsteads and market gardens. This comprehensive manual casts garden farming as both an economic opportunity and a strategy for living well with less money.

 
Nicole Alderman
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Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway

In this iconic permaculture book, Toby Hemenway describes how to implement all things permaculture into a backyard scale and introduces permaculture's central message - Work with nature, not against her. He discusses all of the classic topics such as building and maintaining soil, catching and conserving water, and growing food forests. There are two editions and the revised, updated second edition contains a section on urban permaculture so that no one can have an excuse not to try permaculture!

 
pollinator
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Florida Survival Gardening by David the Good should be on the list, definitely, even though it's written for a sub-tropical climate.  The information and landscape designs are adaptable to other climates.  

https://smile.amazon.com/Florida-Survival-Gardening-Complete-Sunshine-ebook/dp/B096HBHTS5/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Florida+Survival+Gardening&qid=1626694691&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
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Impossible to present an honestly-truthfully-useful-generic answer to such a question. Anyone involved in Permaculture is aware of the importance of specificity, diversity and changeability. So "best" is an absurd concept. Equally, everyone embarking on this lifelong learning journey will have varied entry levels.More useful, IMHO, would be recommendations for a set of reading for the reference and inspiration book shelf. Maybe they could be not just named but positioned (eg: general principles, soil basics, plant interactions, meta design concepts, cropping, small livestock, preserving the harvest, community building...etc). And then for newbies, a sense of a good starting point for the journey.
 
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Unfortunately only in German: Permakultur im Hausgarten

Jonas Gampe (Here is his German website), who converted a dead peace of overly-farmed land back into a blossoming permaculture garden, gives great, practical guidance on how to transform a home-lawn into a sustainably working permaculture garden that requires little maintenance while providing bumper-crops.
At the end of the book he also provides 10 example gardens of friends and clients. Of course his own garden is also included.

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pollinator
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Biodynamic-based book by John Jeavons first published in 1991, now updated.  Wiki entry on the method and the book is here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biointensive_agriculture

Jeavons.JPG
John Jeavons' Grow More Vegetables
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Gaia’s Garden
 
gardener & author
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The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow
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pollinator
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Practical Permaculture: for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein should be on the list.

“This permaculture primer is fresh and vibrant. Bring it on!” —Permaculture Magazine

Permaculture is more popular than ever, but it can still be a daunting concept. If you are new to permaculture and interested in learning more, Practical Permaculture offers authoritative, in-depth, and hands-on advice for a more holistic approach to sustainable living. Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein, two dynamic leaders in the permaculture community, explain the basics of permaculture, share their design process, and explore various permaculture systems including soil, water, waste, energy, shelter, food and plants, and animals and wildlife.

Staff note (Nicole Alderman) :

Added to the poll!

 
pollinator
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I can not really give my vote (apples) to one book. I do have less than 1 acre (in fact: I do not own any land, I am renting). What's 'the best book' is different for every individual person. It depends on your taste (what you want to eat / grow), your amount of time / energy / money / etc., your (micro)climate, the knowledge you already have and the new things you'd like to learn from a book ...
Here in the Netherlands there are a few books on permaculture. They are all interesting, but none of them is really 'the best' for me.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Of course I gave a 'thumbs up' for Paul's (and Shawn's) book. This is a must-read for everyone!
 
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I definitely gained useful ideas from Jeff Ball's book in the 90s and still make use of some of the plant supports I built then. My eastern Ontario climate has a distinctly shorter growing season than his Pennsylvania area and doesn't allow the early crops he gets, but the principles still apply. I never managed to get away with just 60 minutes a week, but that doesn't matter -- gardening is satisfying in many ways, as long as critters don't get your crop.
 
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I'd nominate David Holmgren's "Retrosuburbia, a downshifters guide to a resilient future".
Written for a warm temperate climate, tending to cool, as is found in SE Australia. Really 3 books in one, dealing with the built, biological and behavioural environments and the means of retrofitting or repurposing existing situations to cope with the coming of the end of cheap fossil fuel energy. Also available online in a "Pay as you feel" mode.

https://www.google.com/search?q=retrosuburbia+amazon&oq=&aqs=chrome.4.69i58j69i64j0i66i357i362i394i439i452i468l3...3.-1j0j4&client=ms-android-samsung-gj-rev1&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8
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pollinator
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One of the books that highly recommend is "Miraculous Abundance: One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers, and Enough Food to Feed the World" by Perrine Hervé-Gruyer,  Charles Hervé-Gruyer

It is prometed by Elliot Coleman as :"Farmers like Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer [are] beacons of light. Their work allows the rest of the world to see that there is another life, there is another way."―Eliot Coleman

We all fantasize about things that we will do in the future and reading a book about a couple who has been there done that made me feel the scale of the work. The book is highly inspirational. I put this book in the same catogory with "Gia's Garden" and "One straw revolution".

"When Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer set out to create their farm in a historic Normandy village, they had no idea just how much their lives would change. Neither one had ever farmed before. Charles had been traveling the globe teaching students about ecology and indigenous cultures. Perrine had been an international lawyer in Japan. Their farm Bec Hellouin has since become an internationally celebrated model of innovation in ecological agriculture. Miraculous Abundance is the eloquent tale of the couple’s quest to build an agricultural model that can carry us into a post-carbon future.

The authors dive deeper into the various farming methods across the globe that contributed towards the creation of the Bec Hellouin model, including:

   Permaculture and soil health principles
   Korean natural farming methods
   Managing a four-season farm
   Creating a productive agroecosystem that is resilient and durable
   Using no-dig methods for soil fertility
   Modelling an agrarian system that supports its community in totality; from craft, restaurants and shared work spaces to jobs, agritourism, energy and ecological biodiversity

Perfect for aspiring and experienced farmers, gardeners, and homesteaders, Miraculous Abundance is a love letter to a future where ecological farming is at the centre of every community. "
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Thank you! Added to the poll!

 
s. ayalp
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We have two types of topics: purple and brown of permaculture. I think we also need to come up with a new way to define the people who think permaculture is a means to earn more and the ones who think it as more of a destiny/final form, sort of a retired lifestyle. Some build swales just because it is how you need to do it - for the sake of design. There are some others who check every component of the design whether it makes sense for its feasibility - economy and so on.

Richard Perkins's book is about how he built up a farm and paid its depth in 5 years in a country with harshest regulations (and far up north). The book is not about the story, it is actually about how. Its about: What you need to check for implementing a design? Why he prefered keyline design instead of swales? How he designed it. What you need to do earn from the farm? What you need to check? What costs you might expect? Husbandary, chickens (layers, boilers), market garden. Experiences of his. All that in a book.

"Regenerative Agriculture offers a clear and pragmatic approach to designing, installing and managing profitable small farms, and is built around Richard Perkins’s tireless work to restore the dignity to rural stewardship through intelligent human-scale farming.
It provides a deep look into the ecological, practical, personal and financial realms of making small farms work.
Regenerative farming restores soils and benefits local customers and communities whilst turning a healthy profit for the diligent farmer. With Regenerative Agriculture in hand, you get a jump start on farming for the future."

I believe this book deserves more then 10 acorns, if only it had someone editting it :) A definite must-read for anyone who is going to build a small-scale farm.

here is the link: https://www.regenerativeagriculturebook.com/
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s. ayalp
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The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman is all about efficiency. It had a profound impact on how I manage my garden and also my work. Highly recommended. 10/10

" practical, systems-based approach for a more sustainable farming operation.

To many people today, using the words "factory" and "farm" in the same sentence is nothing short of sacrilege. In many cases, though, the same sound business practices apply whether you are producing cars or carrots. Author Ben Hartman and other young farmers are increasingly finding that incorporating the best new ideas from business into their farming can drastically cut their wastes and increase their profits, making their farms more environmentally and economically sustainable.

By explaining the lean system for identifying and eliminating waste and introducing efficiency in every aspect of the farm operation, The Lean Farm makes the case that small-scale farming can be an attractive career option for young people who are interested in growing food for their community. Working smarter, not harder, also prevents the kind of burnout that start-up farmers often encounter in the face of long, hard, backbreaking labor. Lean principles grew out of the Japanese automotive industry, but they are now being followed by progressive farms around the world.

Using examples from his own family's one-acre community-supported farm in Indiana, Hartman clearly instructs other small farmers in how to incorporate lean practices in each step of their production chain, from starting a farm and harvesting crops to training employees and selling goods. While the intended audience for this book is small-scale farmers who are part of the growing local food movement, Hartman's prescriptions for high-value, low-cost production apply to farms and businesses of almost any size or scale that hope to harness the power of lean in their production processes."
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Staff note (Nicole Alderman) :

Thank you! Added to the poll!

 
s. ayalp
pollinator
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My final recommendation is about diseases. There are many tools, ways and such for dealing with diseases and pests. This book has most of them. Even if you dont implement the recepies, it is definetly a concise referance book about the subject. Highly recomended.

"With growing consumer awareness about the dangers of garden chemicals, turn to The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control as the most reliable and comprehensive guide on the garden shelf. Rodale has been the category leader in organic methods for decades, and this thoroughly updated edition features the latest science-based recommendations for battling garden problems. With all-new photos of common and recently introduced pests and plant diseases, you can quickly identify whether you've discovered garden friend or foe and what action, if any, you should take.

No other reference includes a wider range of methods for growing and maintaining an organic garden. The plant-by-plant guide features symptoms and solutions for 200 popular plants, including flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, and fruits. The insect-and-disease encyclopedia includes a photo identification guide and detailed descriptions of damage readers may see. The extensive coverage of the most up-to-date organic control techniques and products, presented in order of lowest impact to most intensive intervention, makes it easy to choose the best control."
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Staff note (Nicole Alderman) :

Thank you! Added to the poll!

 
Nicole Alderman
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From this other thread:

Stacie Kim wrote:For small properties, I recommend anything written by Anna Hess. My favorite book of hers is called The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency.

Edited to add that this is a beginner's book for anyone who's interested in just starting out their homesteading/permaculture journey.

 
Nicole Alderman
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The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People by Amy Stross

The Suburban Micro-Farm will show you how to grow your own fruits, herbs, and vegetables even on a limited schedule. From seed to harvest, this book will keep you on track so you feel a sense of accomplishment for your efforts.

You'll learn gardening tricks that are essential to success, like how to deal with a 'brown thumb', how to develop and nurture healthy soil, and how to manage garden pests.

Although this book has everything a new gardener needs to get started, experienced gardeners will not be disappointed. With helpful tips throughout, you will love the in-depth chapters about permaculture and making money on the

 
Nicole Alderman
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Your Farm in the City: "An Urban Dweller's Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals" by Lisa Taylor and Seattle Tilth Gardeners

The most complete book on urban farming, covering everything from growing organic produce and raising chickens, to running a small farm on a city lot or in a suburban backyard.

Eating locally and growing one's own food is a rapidly evolving movement in urban settings - Hantz Farms in Detroit has transformed 70 acres of abandoned properties into energy-efficient gardens, and Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, a 6,000-foot vegetable farm in Brooklyn, New York, yields 30 different kinds of produce, while private square-foot farms are cropping up in cities all over the country.






This was actually one of the first gardening books I got--I think my Aunt or my Mom bought it for me when I moved to my property. It's a great beginner book that covers a wide range of gardening/homesteading information sussinctly and beautifully. It's very eye-catching and has lovely illustrations throughout it.

It's not specifically permaculture, but contains a lot of permaculture principals like eating weeds, zones, beneficial insects, organic gardening, etc. It even has tiny little segments on bees, chickens, ducks, rabbits and goats. It's focus is on urban gardens that are less than an acre, but the information is applicable to larger properties, too.
 
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Backyard Self Sufficiency by Jackie French.

This book really got me started and I still refer to it all the time!
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Added to the poll!

 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:"60-Minute Vegetable Garden: Just One Hour a Week for the Most Productive Vegetable Garden" by Jeff Bal

First published in 1985, this guide brings together the author's ten years of research and his unsurpassed expertise to create an innovative vegetable growing system that not only extends the growing season from early spring to early winter, but requires just 60 minutes of work each week.



Just a quick note that this book has a double entry in the voting list.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Yeah, I'd noticed that . But, different people voted for different entries. We can't move the vote from one to another, so I think I just need to leave both up and add the votes together when we tally the votes.

Edit: Paul found a way, so now there's just one listed!
 
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My favorite is The Independent Farmstead by Shawn and Beth Dougherty.
Staff note (Nicole Alderman) :

Added to the poll!

 
Our first order of business must be this tiny ad:
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