Earth User's Guide to Teaching Permaculture

Looby Macnamara | Thursday, 13th February 2014
A useful guide for all levels of teaching, providing a diversity of examples and anecdotes.
Author: Rosemary Morrow
Publisher: Permanent Publications
Publication year: 2013
RRP: £19.95

I opened Rosemary Morrow’s book with slight trepidation, I wondered from the title if the sole focus of this book would be on the earthcare ethic of Permaculture.

My specialism in permaculture is the application of design to people and I thought perhaps the people care ethic wouldn’t get a look in. I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued to find several pages on applying the permaculture to principles to people and communities. This is just one example of her holistic thinking and intention to create a well-rounded experience for students. While the people care ethic certainly hasn’t been given equal attention as the Earth care ethic in terms of content, Rosemary continually refers to individuals, communities and society.

Even after teaching permaculture for over a decade, I still found plenty of useful information and tips here. It is packed full of interesting technical details, which as well as being valuable in themselves, serve as thorough reminders of what to include. This is balanced with suggestions on different ways of teaching. She provides us with questions to ask our students that are thought provoking and encourage personal connection and insights.

Throughout there is a clear layout and drawings to guide us through the 40 units she’s included. Each unit has several options of activities to choose from, allowing teachers to tailor their sessions to their specific courses. One thing I would have liked to see more of is the patterns of how to teach and how to encourage participatory learning, rather than always giving specific examples.

Learning outcomes, training tools, terms used, and key information to get across is included in each unit. Along with the standard and key information she has included at times additional or advanced information, which extends the usefulness of this book beyond permaculture courses into more specialised courses.  While there is an emphasis on Australian climates and ecosystems, she has included examples from around the world. This lends itself to stretching our thoughts as designers, and breaking us out of our usual patterns as teachers. We no longer have to reach for usual anecdotes and examples, when we have such a diversity to choose from.

I’m left with a sense of how Rosemary Morrow teaches to allow great opportunities for students to come away as empowered, skilled designers.

I can recommend this book to experienced and apprentice teachers alike.

Looby Macnamara is the author of People and Permaculture: caring and designing for ourselves, each other and the planet available from our sister site for just £17.95 (also available as an eBook).

Further resources

Permaculture design with Rosemary Morrow

More books from Rosemary Morrow can be found on our sister site at