This is a beautifully put together book, full of wonderful stories and pictures, of 60 projects from all around the world. The sheer variety of the projects listed is astonishing, and inspiring, and left me feeling like I should be doing more myself. This was particularly true when reading about projects from the developing world, and the work being done under challenging conditions. Remarkable.
The book is divided into climate zones, which allows you to concentrate on projects with similar conditions to yourself, or to range wider and learn about the type of projects working in a different environment. In addition to looking at projects by climate, it is also possible to follow themes related to the seven domains of action from David Holmgren's Permaculture Flower Diagram.
By including so many projects, there isn't the opportunity to delve too deeply into each one, but I think that the contributors have done an excellent job of giving the reader an insight into what each project is trying to do.
The book is subtitled 'Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide' and this is my first criticism. Not all of the sites described are permaculture projects, although many of them are, and it felt as if the word 'permaculture' was perhaps being used as it is the only label with a distinctive brand and market. My second criticism is specifically UK centred, but linked to the first. Only three UK projects are listed, which is probably about right. Two are communities, one is a transition town, and none are specifically permaculture projects. I can think of at least two long established permaculture sites that could have been included instead, and there are probably a few more that could have been considered, but the authors have taken the easy option, and used three projects that are already well documented. These are minor niggles in what is otherwise a very good attempt at showing how far permaculture has spread, and the effect that it is having in little pockets around the world.
The design of the book is brilliant, and I can see many copies of it being given as gifts to show others the range and scope that permaculture has. My copy is staying put, to be brought out and browsed whenever I feel the need for a little dose of optimism.
Permaculture - practical solutions for self-reliance, a magazine filled with useful and inspiring features, stories and ideas about all aspects of sustainable living from gardening and farming to green building and renewable technology. Check out a free digital copy HERE. You can subscribe to the print edition HERE.