Monday, September 17, 2018

Best Permaculture Books Written by Women

Shining the spotlight on writing by women in permaculture.

by M. Kramer
food not lawns book
Women have a high rate of participation throughout permaculture, but aren't proportionally represented in leadership roles. The spotlight often goes towards men while women who are organizing and farming get overlooked. This can make it more difficult to find the work out there that women have done. In researching this article I was surprised to find that any combination of words I could think to type in around women writers in permaculture found few, or oftentimes no results.

So, to make it easier for everyone to find these excellent resources, I've compiled a list of books written by women, some in the permaculture movement, some who may not identify as permaculture designers, but who still wrote important books for self-sufficiency and gardening. I also included some information on the authors.

Listed in alphabetical order, by author's last name:

Jenni Blackmore: Permaculture For the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less Than an Acre
A very readable, personal account of her twenty years of trial and error farming in Nova Scotia. A great read for anyone who can’t afford a large farm in a sunny climate.
In addition to being a micro-farmer Jenni is also a painter and certified Permaculture Design Consultant. She lives on Quakadoodle Farm.

Jessi Bloom: Creating Sanctuary 

Focusing on how to grow and use healing plants. She is also the author of Free Range Chicken Gardens and co-author of Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth. She owns N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes, based near Seattle, which is known as an innovator in sustainable landscape design. 

Catherine Bukowski: The Community Food Forests Handbook
Focusing on how to build and maintain a food forest project when working with a community of people. Focuses on the social aspects of a project and changes that occur in a group from the beginning to the end of a project. More info here.

Novella Carpenter: Farm City
An urban farming memoir set in Oakland that has contains many stories of her raising animals. In 2011 she was told by the city that she would need to close the farm but instead she was eventually able to get a Minor Conditional Use Permit. This allowed her to keep her more than 40 animals and inner city garden. She is currently an adjunct professor of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco. Here's her blog.

Rosalind Creasy: Edible Landscaping
While this is not technically a permaculture book it does address designing your outdoor landscape with edible plants instead of being only decorative and was highly influential when it was first published in 1982. Her work goes as far back as 1970. She has written several other books and appeared in many publications. Her website is a fantastic resource for edible landscaping tips.

Carol Deppe: The Resilient Gardener 
Presents gardening techniques in disaster design, whether the disasters are financial or climate change related. A relevant book for our times. She has two other books, The Tao of Vegetable Gardening and Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. You can access many of her essays and articles on her website.

Heather Jo Flores: Food Not Lawns 
There are more than 50 Food Not Lawns chapters worldwide, mostly due to inspiration from this book. Here there is connection placed between activism, community building, and gardening. A great book for the urban dweller as well as country living. Heather is currently growing a food forest in southern Spain. She also runs this blog and the Permaculture Women’s Guild, which offers an online permaculture design certificate course taught by 40 women. She also offers her own series of online classes in the areas of emotional permaculture and practices for women authors.

Maddy Harland: Fertile Edges: Regenerating Land, Culture and Hope
Discusses the potential of use of permaculture principles in society alongside current events. She demonstrates those principles in contrast to the way things are usually done. She is also the editor of Permaculture Magazine.

Rachel Kaplan and K. Ruby Blume: Urban Homesteading
Focused on their own hands-on personal experience in an urban environment, this 2011 hands-on exploration connects to an ever-evolving blog, here.

Looby Macnamara: People and Permaculture
This has been a very influential book because it was an early arrival in the discussion of social permaculture, taking permaculture ethics and principals and applying them to our interactions with each other, ourselves, our families and society. It also contains many useful activities. Looby also wrote 7 Ways to Think Differently and is currently working on her next book Activating Cultural Emergence. She also runs Applewood, a 20 acre demonstration and education center.

Rosemary Morrow: Earth Users Guide To Permaculture
This book can be found on most lists for best permaculture books. It is a practical permaculture design guide good for use on whatever sized plot of land you are working with. Contains information on water use, managing pests and wildlife, and much more. Published in 1993 it is older than most books on this list. Rosemary began teaching permaculture in the 1980s and is still travelling all around the world teaching it today.

Trina Moyles: Women Who Dig
Features the stories of women from many different countries and their experiences with farming. Tackles climate change, economics, gender roles and much more. The secondary title is Farming, Feminism and the Fight to Feed the World. She also writes fiction and poetry and her non-fiction works have been published in several magazines. You can find more on her here.

Tao Orion: Beyond the War on Invasive Species.
Concerns over invasive species destroying ecosystems and choking out native plants has lead to a war where the use of herbicides and other destructive practices is viewed as necessary. This book contains a broader view by taking into account that we need to understand why invasive species are existing in an ecosystem to make more ecological decisions that address the root of the problem. Tao Orion is a permaculture designer living in Oregon. She does consulting through Resilience Permaculture DesignShe teaches at Oregon State University and at at Aprovecho, a 40-acre nonprofit sustainable-living educational organization.

Crystal Stevens: Grow, Create, Inspire
This book contains practical step-by-step ways to build the skills to become more self sufficient. Crystal is also the author of Worms At Work. She is an herbalist, a teacher and a regenerative farmer. She is published in many magazines and speaks at conferences.
She lives on a 10 acre farm in Missouri with her husband and two children.

Ruth Stout: No Work Garden Book
Again, not technically a permaculture book but groundbreaking in the organic world. Loved by many, the title says it all. She uses thick mulch to, as she puts it, garden from her couch. You know you want to read this book. She went on to write several more books and magazine columns. She lived from 1884-1980.

Amy Stross: The Suburban Micro Farm
Teaches how to farm effectively with limited land and free time. Her own tenth of an acre micro-farm is a real life example of her writings. You can stay caught up with her micro- farming adventures at


Not only are these amazing books by women in permaculture, they are amazing books, period. Let's work together to bring more support and recognition for these pioneering writers, gardeners, and designers! Share this article, read these books, and also check out these other resources, by and for permaculture women:

Facebook group
Free resources
Permaculture design course
Via Permaculture Women's Guild - free permaculture

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