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How to Learn Permaculture (+ The 4 Best Books for Beginners)

Permaculture often has a fairly steep learning curve, and it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. When I first started learning permaculture, I had no idea how to even begin putting the pieces together.

But over the past several years, I found the resources that worked best for me, and I’d love to share them with you.

Included in this article:

  • The Top 4 Permaculture Books for Beginners
  • The Best Permaculture YouTube Channels
  • The Best Permaculture Podcasts
  • More Tips to Learn Permaculture

Let’s jump in.

The Top 4 Permaculture Books for Beginners (I Actually Read These)

a woman reading a book in a garden

All 4 of these books are amazing and I have my favorites. However, each book has completely different tones, applications, and lessons. Because of this, I’ll include parenthesis of the overall theme of the book so you can better decide.

Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison (Best for Practicing Permaculture)

Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture, introduces us to the concept, principles, and design techniques in a way that makes you feel like you’re having a chat with him over the garden fence. It’s packed with practical examples, illustrations, and even DIY projects that’ll make you want to roll up your sleeves and start transforming your garden into an eco-paradise.

Every few days, I flip open the book and find something new. The diagrams and graphics really helped me understand some of the most fundamental aspects of permaculture such as aspect, slopes, zones, and permaculture principles.

Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway (Best for Backyard Gardens)

Picture this: you’re walking through an abundant food forest, and it’s your backyard. That’s the dream Gaia’s Garden helps you achieve.

Toby Hemenway brings permaculture home, literally. This book focuses on urban and suburban gardening, which is perfect for folks like us with limited space.

It’s as if a friend is walking you through how to create an edible ecosystem, from selecting plants to mimicking nature’s patterns. Trust me, after reading this, your backyard will never be the same again.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (Best for Connecting With Nature)

Reading this book was like stepping into a magical forest where trees are social beings. It’s a game-changer.

Peter Wohlleben is a professional German forester who shares fascinating insights into the complex lives of trees and makes you feel like you’re part of their secret world. The way he describes how trees communicate and cooperate is like a beautiful dance of nature.

I found myself talking to my trees after reading this (don’t judge!). It’s not exactly a permaculture book, but the knowledge here will make you a more empathetic gardener and deepen your connection with the ecosystem.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (Best for Understanding How We Got Here)

This philosophical novel explores the relationship between humans, nature, and civilization through a series of conversations between a man and a telepathic gorilla named Ishmael.

Reading this book made me question the way we live and how we’ve separated ourselves from nature. It’s an eye-opening journey that’ll leave you pondering the role we play in the web of life, and how we can use permaculture to reconnect with the planet.

Tip: Short on time? Audiobooks make it so easy to finish more books whether you’re driving to the store, or walking your dog.

YouTube Channels

the mossy earth youtube channel
Image source: Youtube

YouTube has been a major part of how I learned permaculture over the past several years. To help you get started, here are some of my favorite YouTube channels to learn permaculture:

  • Andrew Millison: I stumbled upon Andrew Millison’s channel a few years back, and it’s like hitting the permaculture jackpot. He’s an expert in the field who shares a wealth of knowledge, from detailed design processes to practical solutions for creating sustainable and regenerative landscapes.
  • The Weedy Garden: If you’re into learning from real-life experiences, The Weedy Garden is a must-watch. This down-to-earth channel is all about turning a weedy, unruly plot into a productive, thriving garden, with tons of relatable anecdotes and practical advice along the way.
  • Self-Sufficient Me: I can’t get enough of Self-Sufficient Me, where Mark shares his journey to self-sufficiency and all the tips and tricks he’s picked up along the way. From growing your own food to raising backyard chickens, Mark’s engaging content and easy-to-follow guidance make it a go-to channel for anyone wanting to live a more self-sufficient life.
  • Justin Rhodes: Every time I tune into Justin Rhodes’ channel, I feel like I’m getting an inside look into a true homesteading family. Justin shares his day-to-day experiences on his permaculture farm, offering invaluable insights and inspiration for those looking to create a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.
  • Mossy Earth: Mossy Earth is a channel I found while searching for information on rewilding and ecological restoration projects. This channel is filled with awe-inspiring stories and practical guidance on how to bring balance back to our ecosystems and promote biodiversity in our own gardens and communities.
  • Exploring Alternatives: The first time I watched Exploring Alternatives, I was hooked on their unique take on sustainable living. This channel features inspiring stories of people who’ve chosen alternative lifestyles, from tiny houses to off-grid living, providing plenty of food for thought and motivation to live a more eco-conscious life.
an organic companion planting guide ebook square


    a woman listening a podcast on her phone outside

    Like audiobooks, podcasts are perfect for when you go on walks or you have a few minutes of spare time. Seriously, don’t pass up on free expert advice!

    Here are some of my favorite permaculture podcasts:

    1. The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann dives deep into permaculture principles, sharing inspiring interviews with experts and practical tips to make your garden thrive. We can all learn from the wealth of experience Scott’s guests bring to the table, as they discuss everything from soil health to water harvesting.
    2. Permaculture Voices with Diego Footer is where we can explore the real-world applications of permaculture through inspiring interviews, case studies, and hands-on advice. I’ve picked up loads of useful tips from Diego’s conversations with farmers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs who have made permaculture work for them.
    3. Sustainable World Radio with Jill Cloutier is a treasure trove of fascinating stories about the intersection of ecology, permaculture, and ethnobotany. Jill’s thoughtful interviews with passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds never fail to inspire me and remind us of the importance of creating a more sustainable and harmonious world.
    4. The Abundant Edge with Oliver Goshey offers invaluable insights into regenerative living, permaculture, and natural building techniques. Oliver’s conversations with experts and practitioners always leave me feeling empowered, as they reveal the transformative power of working with nature to create abundant, resilient systems.
    5. The Permaculture Student with Matt Powers is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of permaculture and sustainable living. Matt’s engaging conversations with educators, authors, and activists make complex concepts accessible and provide us with practical tools to create a brighter future.

    More Tips to Learn Permaculture

    Read Blogs

    When I first started learning about permaculture, I spent countless hours browsing through blogs to learn the ins and outs of this amazing design system. And you can do the same.

    Just grab a cup of tea, find a cozy spot, and start reading some top-notch permaculture blogs. This will not only give you valuable information but also connect you with a community of like-minded people who are eager to share their experiences and wisdom.

    Talk to People

    You know that feeling when you meet someone who shares your passion, and you can’t help but get excited? That’s what talking to people about permaculture is like.

    Reach out to fellow permaculture enthusiasts, ask questions, and share your experiences. It’s like trading secret recipes with a neighbor – you never know what amazing tips you’ll pick up from others in the community.

    Join Workshops and Visit Farms

    tyler and justin rhodes from abunance plus
    Me (second from the left) and the rest of our group that helped out Justin Rhodes on his homestead in Sep. 2021.

    Imagine you’re learning to cook a new dish, and you have the chance to learn from a world-class chef. That’s what attending permaculture workshops is like.

    Workshops are a great way to learn hands-on techniques and get expert guidance from seasoned professionals. Plus, they’re a fantastic opportunity to meet other budding permaculturists and grow your network.

    For example, I visited Justin Rhodes’ homestead a few years ago and helped him out with a day’s worth of chores. That day in the field was worth a whole month of research.

    Take a Course

    Remember the thrill of learning to ride a bike with someone guiding you along the way? Taking a permaculture course can feel like that. Enrolling in a course is an excellent way to gain comprehensive knowledge, structured lessons, and guidance from experienced instructors.

    Plus, courses often include hands-on projects, giving you the chance to apply your newfound skills in real-life situations. Trust me, by the end of the course, you’ll feel like a permaculture pro ready to conquer any gardening challenge.

    The Hidden Problem With Permaculture Courses

    However, the problem with many permaculture courses today is that they’re fairly expensive and take months or years to complete.

    I remember looking at a permaculture course a few years ago, but it was across the world in Australia and cost $3000. Including the flights and accommodations, I would have paid a total of about $5000.

    I ended up going with a different Permaculture Design Certificate course, but it still cost me more than $1200 and a lot of time.

    Not only that, but a lot of people aren’t looking to become a certified permaculture designer, they’re just looking at improving their backyard or property.

    Because of this, I spent years creating The 30-Day Permaculture Design Course. It’s an email course where you get 1 email a day for 30 days, each with a different aspect of permaculture and fast-tracked ways on how to learn it and apply it to your site.


    It’s no secret that we learn best by doing.

    When I started implementing permaculture principles in my own garden, I made my fair share of mistakes. But, with practice, I got better and better at designing and maintaining my permaculture site.

    So, dive in, get your hands dirty, and don’t be afraid to experiment. As you apply what you’ve learned, you’ll find your own style and gain a deeper understanding of permaculture.

    Need More Help?

    You can always ask us here at Couch to Homestead, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.

    • Local Cooperative Extension Services: While we do our best with these articles, sometimes knowledge from a local expert is needed! The USDA partnered with Universities to create these free agriculture extension services. Check out this list to see your local services.
    • Permaculture Consultation: Need help with a bigger project? Send us a message.
    10-day food forest course