An Introduction To Permaculture

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This is the first in a series of 15 pamphlets based on the 1981 Permaculture Design Course given by Bill Mollison at The Rural Education Center, Wilton, New Hampshire, USA. Elizabeth Beyor, without compensation, transcribed tape recordings of the course and subsequently edited them into the 15 pamphlets. Thelma Snell typed all 15 pamphlets and laid-out most of them. Lisa Barnes contributed illustrations to pamphlets II, IX, and XI. Bill Mollison edited the pamphlets for accuracy and style, as did I, their publisher, Dan Hemenway. I also performed computer typesetting for this edition. After about 10 years of using Thelma's typescript, we were able to offer a typeset version, which is at once more compact, saving trees and money, and more readable. Now we also offer the pamphlets in electronic form, so that they may be read directly by computer without use of any paper, saving more trees. This edition has been slightly re-edited to make it more readable, accurate, and up-to-date.

In deference to the monumental tasks of love in this work, often painstaking, always careful and caring, and with Bill Mollison's consent, I have placed these pamphlets in the public domain. Their reproduction is free to all and encouraged. Credit, above all to Bill Mollison and secondly to Yankee Permaculture, is proper and appreciated.

We have rough Spanish translations of a few Permaculture Design Course Pamphlets, some French translations, and some German translations. To obtain the latest list of translations we have available, order Permaculture Paper #27 from the Yankee Permaculture order form. This is our list of special order documents. Volunteer translators are needed, particularly for Spanish versions. Since these pamphlets are in the public domain, we expect that there are translations of which we have not heard. If you encounter any, please let us know.

Through the efforts of volunteers, we have placed this survey of permaculture in the public domain, supplementing the copyrighted material that is available. Just as we encourage you to reproduce these pamphlets, we urge you to respect the copyright of other permaculture books and publications. Always request permission to reproduce copyrighted material. Always abide by the decision of the copyright holder.

Volunteers are still greatly needed in all phases of our permaculture work. We hope that these pamphlets encourage you to join the champions of Earth, our mother, whether you call your work permaculture, something else, or no particular name at all. And if you wish to pursue permaculture, please note that we offer a large selection of permaculture publications, a journal, a correspondence Permaculture Design Course, and that we are also available to deliver lectures, lead workshops, and teach Permaculture Design Courses anywhere in the world.

To purchase any of these pamphlets on computer disk, please consult our order form. For our Mother, the Earth,

Dan Hemenway. Sparr, Florida, USA, January 2001. Ninth edition.

Permaculture Design Course Pamphlet Series


Pr ic e

Complete Set of 15 Pamphlets. Bill Mollison. $35 (on paper)




Complete Set for computer, by email or as disks. Individually, add $5 ea. to prices below.




I An Introduction to Permaculture. (Price reduced 3/22/94.)




II Permaculture in Humid Landscapes.




III Permaculture in Arid Landscapes,




IV Permaculture on Low Islands. (See V for combined price.)


V Permaculture on High Islands. (IV, V, & VI offered as one pamphlet.)




VI Permaculture on Granitic Landscapes. (See V for combined price.)


VII Permaculture for Fire Control. (See XV for combined price.)


VIII Designing for Permaculture.




IX Permaculture Techniques.




X Forests in Permaculture.




XI Water in Permaculture.




XII Permaculture for Urban Areas & Urban-Rural Linkages.




XIII The Permaculture Community.




XIV The Permaculture Alternative.




XV Permaculture for Millionaires.




All funds must be in US dollars in a check drawn on a US bank or by International Postal Money order.

Make checks

payable to: "Yankee Permaculture." Make postal money orders payable to: "Dan or Cynthia Hemenway."

For all Yankee Permaculture publications, please add US$5 plus10% postage & handling for shipments to the US and 20% for shipments to other countries.

payable to: "Yankee Permaculture." Make postal money orders payable to: "Dan or Cynthia Hemenway."

For all Yankee Permaculture publications, please add US$5 plus10% postage & handling for shipments to the US and 20% for shipments to other countries.

Prices subject to change without notice. Check our web site at

Introduction by Andrew Jeeves, 1981

Permaculture started in 1975 or 1976 as a public interest when Bill was talking about it to a friend who had a friend who was a radio interviewer on the national, government run, radio station in Melbourne. Bill was asked whether he wanted to do a talk-back program at this radio station. So he did. It turned out to be the most interesting talk-back program they had ever had.

The board was just lit up for the rest of the day. People were asking what it was about and where could they get more information.

Bill, at that time, had a manuscript that he had been working on, just ideas. He thought now was the time to publish something because there was so much information needed. He had at least three thousand letters coming to him saying, "Where can I get more about this?"

At that time, David Holmgren was writing a thesis at the University about permaculture, working together with Bill who was directing his research. So they got the thesis together, Bill added some more, and they rushed together a book which turned into Permaculture One. Twenty-five thousand copies were printed. Within three years they were out of print.

Out of that came a group of people wanting to get together to talk about permaculture. They decided to set up an association. The Quarterly now has about three thousand direct subscribers. [Now known as The International Permaculture Journal, it has ceased publication, at least temporarily. However, there are quite a few active permaculture publications around the world. -

Regional permaculture groups started. People get together once a month or every two weeks to talk about permaculture. Maybe they get something going politically or set up a bioregional association to let each other know what is going on regionally. They are swapping plants, and mapping species of trees in the bush which are good bearers of nuts, and operating a seed exchange, that sort of thing. Thirty-six of those groups in Australia arose in the first four years. Everywhere we hold a workshop, a group usually forms and starts doing something. Every one of those groups seems to be performing a different function.

About two years ago, Bill decided that Permaculture Two needed to come out because there was more information. There was also a need to update a lot of the material in Permaculture One and change the emphasis from theory to something more practical. We got the manuscript together that Bill had written.

It was pretty haphazard. I went to stay with the editor of the Quarterly and we put it together and edited it some more. Then we had thirty thousand of those printed. This book is now reprinted.

Bill came over here to America last year, just lecturing and going from place to place with a few books and selling them, and scraping the money together so he could get to the next place, not really having much money, buying a van in California for $700 to get across here. It was during that really hot summer and the van died. Bill was stuck out in the middle of nowhere, dead van, and wondering whether this was all worth it?

Then he went to the Futures Conference in Toronto. There were probably 1500 people there. They gave him a little spot, and he gave a talk about permaculture. Someone asked him whether he would like to talk again. He said, "Yeah, ok." There were 700 people at the next meeting. And he was asked to talk again, and there was a bigger crowd. Bill was one of the main finishing lecturers. When things seem to fall down a bit, and no one knew where to go on from there, Bill got up and started talking, and everyone was going, "Wow! Listen to this guy!"

After Bill's trip across the USA, a few groups of people decided that they wanted to hold some more workshops. One of these was The Rural Education Center. And here we are. It probably depends on you as much as it does on us, now.

UPDATE, June, 2001.

Much more has been published and otherwise shaped since 1981, when the above words were spoken. Much of this information is available from Yankee Permaculture, POB 52, Sparr FL 332192-0052 USA. It includes:

The International Permaculture Solutions Journal. TIPS Journal, which succeeds TIPSY, our former yearbook, contains updates on the environmental crisis, practical information on plants and animals of use in permaculture, introductory articles on the basics of permaculture, articles on aspects of per-maculture design, extensive letters to the editor, book reviews, and many other items of relevance. Back issues of TIPS and TIPSY are available and remain the best sources of information on many of the subjects that they cover. Some offprints are available.

TRIP-The Resources of International Permaculture.

TRIP is a directory of groups and key individuals working on issues of concern in permaculture--not only permaculture groups and publications, but also those in bioregionalism, green politics, environmentalism, genetic preservation, appropriate technology, forest concerns, and so forth. Formerly part of TIPSY, TRIP is now in its eighth edition. It contains addresses of approximately 2000 groups worldwide. TRIP is also available on computer disk. Special searches of TRIP may be arranged. And TRIP in print now includes an update service to keep readers up to date until the next entirely new edition.

YANKEE PERMACULTURE also publishes more than 30 permaculture papers, and of course the 15 Permaculture Design Course Pamphlets. Yankee Permaculture also produces for sale the slide/script presentations used to teach the Elfin Permacul-ture Design Course and offers readings for a Permaculture Design Correspondence Course, also in conjunction with Elfin Per-maculture. Increasingly, our documents are available on computer disk as well as in print.

Elfin Permaculture annually presents an online Permacul-ture Design Course taught via email.

Permaculture Quarterly gave up on the schedule implied by that title and has become International Permaculture Journal, which has suspended publication at this writing. The Permacul-ture Activist, POB 1209, Black Mountain NC 28711-1209, USA. The Activist is a newsletter for English-speaking permacultur-ists in North America and Hawaii and is just about the best single source of listings of permacutlure training programs in these regions.

Bill Mollison published two more very important books, Per-rnaculture: A Designers' Manual and Introduction to Permaculture both available from Yankee Permaculture.

Contact Dan Hemenway, Elfin Permaculture, Barking Frogs Permaculture Center, POB 52, Sparr FL 32192 USA about hosting a permaculture design course or about consulting and design services. The email address is Barking-[email protected] Always include a SASE or international return mail coupons with letters and, if possible, enclosed a contribution for time and expenses, when requesting information from a permaculture group.

Contributions of time, money and/or other resources are welcome.

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