Permaculture is a design system 

for creating thriving sustainable inhabited environments.

Permaculture design emphasizes patterns where the whole is greather than the sum of its parts.

Permaculture design therefore seeks to minimize waste, human labor and energy input by building systems with maximal benefits between elements to achieve a high level of synergy.
Permaculture designs evolve over time and can become extremely complex systems that produce a high density of food and materials with minimal input. 

Originally referred to "permanent agriculture",

but was expanded to stand also for "permanent culture," once it was perceived that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable solution. 

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system. -- Bill Mollison

For a beginner in permaculture, we recommend 3 books;

 for backyard scale: Gaia's Garden; for farmstead scale: The Resilient Farm & Homestead; for the whole picture of what is happening in our watersheds: Desert or Paradise. We suggest that you also refer to our book section on Resilience, Self-Sufficiency, Survival and Change which of necessity incorporates much of what permaculture is about.
We also note that without a living sustainable soil none of this will work.
Popular This Season:
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Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist:

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist: How to Have Your Yard and Eat It Too Michael Judd, 2013, 140 pp. This is a fun read. Michael incites you ...
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Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach

NAME: Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food & Medicinals in Temperate Forests AUTHOR: Ken Mudge & Steve Gabriel D...
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Gaia's Garden A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture,

A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture Toby Hemenway, 2009, Second Edition, 320 pp. SECTION: Permaculture and Trees, How To Grow More Vegetables… shows you how...
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Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Fa

Gary Paul Nabhan. 2013, 272 pp. Resiliance Gary Paul Nabhan is often called "The father of the local foods movement." He has worked for decades to disco...
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How to Prune Fruit Trees

R. Sanford Martin, 1978, 90 pp. SECTION: Permaculture and Trees, For home gardeners. The classic 1978 edition is out-of-print, but Ken Anderson of the Walt...
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Man of the Trees (Hardbound) Man of the Trees Selected

Selected Writing of Richard St. Barbe Baker Karen Gridley ed., 1989, 127 pp. SECTION: Permaculture and Trees, Excerpts from St. Barbe Baker's most importan...
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Man of the Trees Selected Writing of Richard St. Barbe Baker

Selected Writing of Richard St. Barbe Baker Karen Gridley ed., 1989, 149 pp. paperback SECTION: Permaculture and Trees, Excerpts from St. Barbe Baker's mo...
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Perennial Vegetables

Eric Toensmeier, 2007, 256 pp. SECTION: A World of Seeds and Plants, Perennial food crops can form the “bones” of the garden, to be filled in with annuals a...
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Plant Species Index for the Pacific Northwest and General

A Litwin/Seattle Tilth Assn., 1990, 22 pp. SECTION: Permaculture and Trees, Useful in planning hedgerows, windbreaks, shelter belts and living fences. APPR...
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Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community,

If your goal is to set-up a full Permaculture site, this is the book for you. It takes you step-by-step through the whole process in a very understandable an...
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Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers

NAME: Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers AUTHOR: Mark Shepard DATE/ED: 2013 PAGES: 339 SEC: Permaculture & Self-Sufficienc...
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Sepp Holzer's Desert or Paradise: Restoring Endangered

NAME: Desert or Paradise: Restoring Endangered Landscapes Using Water Management, Including Lake & Pond Construction AUTHOR: Sepp Holzer DATE/ED: 2013...
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Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture Sepp Holzer, 2011. 256 pp. SECTION: Permaculture and Trees, A 110+ acre commercial permaculture farm featuring 14,000 fruit tre...
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The Resilient Farm and Homestead:

The Resilient Farm and Homestead Ben Falk, 2013, 305 pp. We think this is the book of the year, and probably the decade. Open it to almost any page an...
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The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in

The Resilient Gardener Carol Deppe, 2010, 384 pp. Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. This is a wonderful distillation of Carol's decade...