These days I design more freely. I’m comfortable assessing where a good place to plant might be. On a good day, it might even occur to me what to plant and how to plant it. I have experience finding contour lines, installing swale systems and collecting water, and I know how to find or create on-site resources to make fertile garden beds. I’ve worked some with construction-grade bamboo, with cob, and with other natural building materials. At my most competent, I’ve used them with reasonable success, i.e. nothing has collapsed.
Even so, rarely do I make it completely through a design process, be it garden or building, water catchment or compost, without double-checking data or taking a quick glimpse at a reference source. Even more so, as a person writing about permaculture, I never make it through an article without verifying information or even learning new things myself. The source for all of this information, for me (and much of the world), is the Internet.
While everyone reading this article is likely more than capable of conducting a Google search, the fact of the matter is that sometimes it’s just nice to be pointed in the right direction. It’s nice to be introduced, actually shown a route rather than following a map. And, to be quite frank, those Google searches are rigged with keywords, SEO techniques, and whatever else. For me, these sites have been hugely valuable resources in both my writing and personal growth. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
1. Obviously, Permaculture News, as we all well know, is a great bevy of information, both stuff we find ourselves in search and information we had no idea we wanted to know. It’s a source of real pride and inspiration that I get to contribute regularly to such an esteemed, established site.
2. David Holmgren runs an absolutely fantastic site, with loads of information, especially in terms of explaining the theoretical side of permaculture. Each ethic and principle is broken down and addressed cleanly and succinctly. Plus, I work in Central and South America a lot and find it very useful that the whole thing is also done in Spanish.
3. Eat the Weeds is one of my favorite plant sites, and I’ve turned to it on many occasions to find out about plants that were new to me. It’s a great spot to learn more about what might be foraged rather than planted, and there are great write-ups on lots of wild and domestic edible plants.
4. Somehow I’ve been fortunate enough to spend most of my growing days in the tropics. Unfortunately, information regarding permaculture in the tropics has lagged behind when compared to stuff about temperate regions. This site on Tropical Permaculture helped me out a lot at the beginning.
5. Wellness Mama is not gardening or design exactly, though such things may very well be on her site, but without a doubt, she is my favorite source of DIY information, everything from fermenting to making soap to homemade, green cleaning products. It’s a really put-together site.
6. Geoff Lawton, our fearless hero, also has free videos up on his new self-titled website, geofflawtononline.com. These include his upcoming “VOD” permaculture course, as well as a slew of other informative and exciting videos. It’s really inspiring to see some of the successful application of permaculture in time succession, and this has a lot of practical information rather than only theory.
7. The Cob Builder’s Handbook only focuses on one specific type of eco-construction, but it does a hell of a job convincing readers to give it a go. There is other great instructional info on other eco-building techniques (ones that apply more to my tropical setting): bamboo, round-timber, earthbag, etc. But, The Cob Builder’s Handbook just stays with me.
8. The Humanure Handbook, while we are on handbooks, is such an inspiring read that I wrote a two-part article for Permaculture News about composting human manure. It’s been through several additions, and for any folks out there struggling with the concept, it is an absolutely must read.
9. And, just because I know finding info on tropical permaculture is sometimes difficult, I want to share this book— A Permaculture Guidebook from East Timor —my wife recently found. This book is very simple with lots of illustrations, but it covers just about everything imaginable with the intention of functioning for indigenous farmers in Timor Leste. It’s free, and by far, the largest book we’ve found on the topic.
10. YouTube! in general is an unparalleled resource for getting lessons and demonstrative videos about all things permaculture; however, there are some videos that I find myself returning to, sharing and referencing quite often. Bill Mollison’s In Grave Danger of Falling Food & the Global Gardener (4-part series) are great and sometimes inadvertently funny in their datedness.
11. Permaculture Paradise, Val and Eli’s Garden, specifically, are awesome videos of people providing tours of their often very successful projects. These are also from YouTube!. Val and Eli do several videos, including some chop-and-drop and community garden stuff, and there are various other selections from the same Permaculture Paradise group.
12. Not really knowing how to go about getting podcasts or what exactly they would entail, my wife and I recently found ourselves in a position to waste away quite a few afternoons and started listening to podcasts about permaculture and sustainable living. It began with a post about 10 highly inspirational permaculture podcasts from The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann.
13. The podcast thing simply grew from there. While I would like to see that they all remained on an intellectual, self-improvement level, that would be a lie. Even so, after we tired a little of Scott Mann’s self-proclaimed “radio voice”, Emma searched from some permaculture podcasts from a different source, and we fell hard for a site called Sustainable World Radio.
14. Lastly, there is the hardworkinghippy, who doesn’t have an official website, but who has some of the most inspiring photos I’ve seen. They are great for just looking at a pondering, and I use them often as example shots for things in my articles. It sounds a bit unusual, but this one time I’ll recommend thumbing through a stranger’s photo albums.
By no means have I exhausted the list of resources and websites out there in the great wide web but also right at our fingertips. These are but some of my favorites, and they are ones that I find myself continually recommending and returning to explore a bit more. Feel free to share other favorites below, and I hope these provide as much inspiration for you as they have for me.