Earth Users Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow, illustrated by Rob Allsop, Kangaroo Press, 2006
I bought the Earth Users Guide way back in 1994. It was at a time when I'd realised that there was much more to permaculture than making herb spirals and sheet mulch beds, and was desperately hungry to find out more. I'd borrowed Permaculture One and the Designers Manual from the library, but have to admit that as a newcomer didn't find them particularly approachable. Rosemary Morrow's book on the other hand was exactly what I was looking for, and I fondly remember hours spent pouring over its clearly written text, colour photos and the wealth of clear, simple yet beautiful diagrams and illustrations that made the book a visual treat. Drawing on her years of experience in Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Africa, Morrow communicated the essence of permaculture ethics, principles and design with enthusiasm, translating Holmgren and Mollison's heady but rather theoretical concepts to an accessible 'here's how to do it' approach. After giving an overview of ecological concepts such as understanding landscape, soil, water and climate, the book covered practical applications of permaculture in the home and garden as well as more broadscale areas of farming, aquacultures, orchard and forest management, finally looking at 'social permaculture' strategies such as LETS and bioregionalism. Together with Graham Bell's Permaculture Garden, I can honestly say this is a book that changed my life...
Receiving this new edition was therefore like having a visit from an old friend, being able to spend a good few hours reminiscing and once again sharing their wisdom and inspiration. And as with meeting the best of our old mates, its great to learn that the Earth Users Guide has moved on and grown. In fact its been completely revised and updated to almost twice its original size! In particular the sections on urban permaculture and community building have been expanded, and there are new sections on 'weeds', wildlife gardening, seed saving and pest management, as well as the introduction of concepts like Ecological Footprinting that were virtually unknown in the early 1990s. And best of all, there are loads more new pictures! Morrow continues to empower with her vision that permaculture possibilities are not only open to anybody whatever their circumstances or situation, but can be fun too!
Original review by Graham Burnett