This is an essential book for anyone interested in permaculture. Although permaculture originated as a land-based design framework, it is now applied to all aspects of our lives, our communities and our planet.
Zen in the Art of Permaculture Design is the philosophical layer to permaculture design. This won’t tell you how to start a permaculture garden, or how to design your permaculture project, but what it does do is use permaculture tools to guide you through your own journey, whatever that may be.
The book works through the classic permaculture SADI (survey, analysis, design, implementation). After a brief introduction to what permaculture is, Stefan begins with surveying, asking us how we observe the natural world, and imploring us to fully observe. Observation is key to permaculture, and with meditation being a big part of Zen practice, the two go hand in hand.
Stefan urges us to observe without prejudice. Meditation can help us peel away the layers of our cultural conditioning, making it easier to fully observe our potential project or remit.
“There can be no doubt, any time spent in observation will reward tenfold.”
He also explains the importance of talking to others within your surveying, as well as looking to Nature, with the perspective that we are part of it. Nature also offers solutions through patterns, such as spirals, webs and cones. These patterns have been used by Nature for millennia.
Stefan also explores systems thinking, essentially the study of ecosystems, thinking abundantly, how to design with attitudes and then on into implementation. Stefan is a guide through these steps, offering advice on what to consider as you work towards your goal.
Zen in the Art of Permaculture Design is the wisdom and philosophy behind permaculture, helping us all to use permaculture design to its full capacity.
Rozie Apps is assistant editor at PM.