Book Review: Earth Restorer’s Guide to Permaculture

By our CEO, Kathleen


Earth Restorer’s Guide to Permaculture is a comprehensive and well thought out text useful for anyone aiming to make their life more ethical and sustainable. Author Rosemary Morrow starts by sharing her inspiring conviction “from evidence” that “permaculture can transform lives to buffer climate change, build community resilience and improve the future.” Sounds pretty great to me!


Premise of the book


The title of the book is significant in a couple of ways. Firstly this is a guide to permaculture and it does that very well. If you know a little about permaculture and are wanting to apply the concepts to your life and create a design for your home environment, this book gently guides you through doing that in a really accessible and straight forward way. It’s very practical, with heaps of illustrations and diagrams to communicate concepts and examples to get you going.

Also significant is the change in the title in this third and updated edition. The book was originally titled the ‘Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture.’ The framing has shifted from ‘using’ the earth, to ‘restoring’ it, acknowledging the growing urgency of us all acting to regenerate nature’s systems if humans are to survive in health on planet earth for too much longer. The point is clearly made that of the three permaculture ethics- care of earth, care of people and fair share- care of earth must be prioritised. Rowe does that through the book.


Updated Contexts


Refreshingly the book acknowledges that whilst permaculture has undoubtedly been a success, it is based on colonial structures and has stayed centric to western cultures for too long. It needs to “grow to be more responsive, self-questioning and flexible to embrace traditional, non-European customs and ways of thinking” if it is to spread globally and have the impact we all need it to.

The books works very hard to shift this by including a great diversity of contexts for the principles to be applied in. This is demonstrated in the site and sector analysis section where there are diagrams for a Cambodian farm, refugee camp, high rise building and an urban duplex. I actually found this really interesting and useful for my own very urban, Western context. For example I could see the information on household water systems from rural developing nation areas could be pretty useful for me in wanting to design a low carbon/ low tech option for water self-sufficiency in Perth.


Who this book is for 


There is a lot of the classic design focused information to help you create designs for your property. But permaculture is much more than that and this book has a lot of info on engaging with and caring for landscapes beyond your boundaries, including a fascinating section on care for oceans. Plus great information on applying permie principles to your workplace, economic systems and incomes and livelihoods.

I think this book would be best absorbed if read slowly after you’ve had some introductory permaculture education. It’s rich with very good information. Morrow has added questions and prompts throughout to help you learn and absorb the concepts, perfect for nerds like me who need to do a bit of homework for anything to stick in the brain!

All in all this is a wonderful text and is the kind of book you’ll want to keep on your shelf for life.



Get yourself a copy


Earth Restorer’s Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow and illustrated by Rob Allsop is out now and available via Melliodora Publishing. It’s available to buy online through the Permaculture Principles ethical online store, Or support a local retail store like Urban Revolution or Enviro House, who both stock this and other permaculture books (at time of writing).


Thank you to Melliodora Publishing for gifting us a copy of this book, it will now join our City Farm library of reference books our staff and volunteers use in their work at the Farm.