Permaculture’s Inspirational Women: International Women's Day

Permaculture Magazine
Monday, 8th March 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we're sharing permaculture's inspirational women.

Permaculture Magazine/Permanent Publications co-founder and editor, Maddy Harland, has worked tirelessly to not only promote permaculture and take it mainstream. Morag Gamble, founder of the Permaculture Education Institute says, "Maddy is one of the leading female voices in the world of permaculture." Maddy has supported and encouraged women writers to become respected authors in what has been a male dominated movement.

"When I first arrived on the UK permaculture scene in 1990, there were no women permaculture teachers and internationally very few women authors. I wanted women to find their voices in the magazine, as permaculture design teachers, as thought leaders in the movement, and as respected book authors.

"Women often juggle our careers with having children (as I have) and are time poor, so writing books or teaching is very challenging. Economically, even in the 21st century, women are paid less than men and often retire with 2/3rds of the pension men receive. So it remains vital that we still consciously celebrate and promote all women and their work. Our voices are different, complimentary, creative… The world is less diverse without us. Permaculture needs to be far more inclusive, and that includes non-binary genders." Maddy Harland (pictured above, left to right: Robyn Francis, Rosemary Morrow, Maddy Harland, Starhawk).

Here is an introduction and celebration of some of the women permaculture writers closest to us here at Permaculture Magazine/Permanent Publications.

In the past few months we have been fortunate enough to work with Liz Zorab on her brand new book Grounded: A Gardener’s Journey to Abundance & Self-Sufficiency. Liz went from being bed bound due to illness to now being self-sufficient as well as feeding 20 other local families in just a few short years: Her book has been reprinted twice in its first year if publication!

Excitingly, over the past 12 months, we have also seen the emergence of a vibrant younger generation of permaculture activists, across all continents – inspired by the impact of Greta Thunberg. Many are being brought together by the work of Permayouth (, a group of 11-18-year-olds headed up by 14-year-old Maia Raymond, who are passionate about positive solutions. They host free monthly online festivals where they share their experiences and learn together.

Worldwide we see the positive impacts of permaculture, be it via early American adopters like Starhawk ( or more recent additions from Pandora Thomas who has launched the Black Permaculture Network (

Here in the UK, Lobby Macnamara published the first permaculture design book dedicated to people care - not just Earth Care, People & Permaculture ( and she has followed that over the past few months with the pioneering Cultural Emergence ( which offers a set of design tools for transforming personal and collective cultures.

Others are inspirational within whole communities – Sarah Pugh of Shift Bristol continues to impact her city in truly significant ways.

We also seek to ‘edge’ permaculture and ensure it reaches ever wider audiences. The work of no dig gardener Stephanie Hafferty whose two books No Dig Organic Home & Garden and The Creative Kitchen have helped bring a more mainstream audience to permaculture. Likewise, at a time when COVID and its collective pause is giving us time to evaluate our lives, Vera Greutink’s Edible Paradise ( offers those inspirational, practical steps to enable us to make the changes we need to.

It is vital to acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors from many indigenous farmers all over the world who don’t even call their approach permaculture, but from whom permaculture was learnt. We respectfully honour the lives of women throughout the ages. The permaculture world itself is indebted to the work of pioneering women from Australia who have helped educate, design and grow systems not just in their homeland but across Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Many of these (such as Robin Clayfield) have written for Permaculture Magazine while others have become Permanent Publication authors. Rosemary Morrow is a guiding light whose two classic titles Earth User’s Guide To Permaculture and Earth User’s Guide To Teaching Permaculture have helped so many in the southern hemisphere.

Education remains a central part of what permaculture offers and books like Carolyn Nuttall and Janet Millington’s Outdoor Classrooms ( is a title which helps us reconnect with nature. If you want to begin your own journey then check out Jasmine Dale’s Permaculture Design Companion ( it will help you plan your path, starting today!