~ The books that have earned their place in the 7th Generation Design Library ~
A very approachable book for anyone looking to take responsibility for this valuable waste stream. Composting doesn’t have to be scary, and Joseph’s book does an excellent job walking through the essentials of composting humanure and how to go about designing and building a systems that works for you and your needs.
If you want a single book that will enable you to plan, design, construct and maintain a waste water treatment wetland system – this is it! While still a lesser known solution in the United States, designed wetlands are gaining notoriety for their effectiveness and aesthetic qualities in processing waste water (black and gray) to create a positive ecological impact.
An empowering and inspiring tour de force for anyone interested in growing their own trees and perennial plants. Akiva covers all the necessary propagation techniques and methods without any fluff. His write ups on the individual tree species are horizon-expanding – we can solve so many of the intractable problems facing us today by simply living in relationship with these magnificent beings.
An excellent primer on the regenerative paradigm for folks that might be just discovering this way of thinking and living. Broad in scope, with lots of tasty trails for people to follow into the Permies.com thread-verse when they find something that excites them. This book makes a great gift and excellent conversation fodder!
The ONE Thing is an incredibly impactful book. It is the book we most often recommend for people looking for a process to help them act in order of priority in alignment with their purpose. The systems and steps outlined in this book, while not easy, are simple and approachable. More importantly they help you create powerful momentum towards completing that which matters most – to continually hone in on the few actions that yield the most foundational results for creating the life you want to live.
We use the Holistic Goal Setting outlined in this book as the foundational goal setting / visioning tool for all of our consultancies – it provides the necessary minimum of critical structure to a developing vision without smothering it in untimely details and allows one to start with confidence that the efforts taken in the present moment are aligned and prioritized with the larger future vision and goals.
Incredibly practical, this book is all about old school food preservation – i.e. methods that don’t require electricity. Filled with old world wisdom and techniques, this book empowers the home gardener and orchardist with the knowledge to create a home pantry that doesn’t need an electrical lifeline – and tastes better too!
The Permaculture City is an excellent regenerative design book for urban, suburban and town environments. It offers a well-integrated vision for how to go about doing the work of The Great Retrofit – adapting and remodeling a built environment totally unprepared for a lower-energy future into something where people, creatures and planet all thrive. From one of the greats – we miss you Toby.
One of the most well-known intro-to-permaculture books out there – and for a good reason. Toby’s choice of language and ability to articulate novel concepts in easy-to-digest ways makes this our go-to book for lending to folks just getting into the permaculture paradigm. Also packed with very sound, sensible design methodology and pattern recognition pieces, it is a perennial re-read in the 7th Gen library – truly a gift to humanity from Toby.
A great read for anyone interested in tailoring their lifestyle and residence to be abundant and healthy in an energy descent future. Peter’s thorough descriptions of principles, techniques, tools and the mindset behind them all helps to break the at times daunting transition towards a regenerative economy and society down into right-sized steps. Very practical, very approachable – a good book for new and old permies alike.
Perhaps the most well known of the ‘energy descent future’ books – The Transition Town Handbook is awesome, empowering, practical and inspiring all rolled into one. Not only does it provide a vision for a truly local economy, it lays out how it’s already happening all around the world. The book is available for free as a PDF download too! We haven’t read the follow up book – The Transition Starts Here, Now And Together – yet, but have no doubt it will be a keeper too!
A truly timeless book for the designer’s library. This book illuminates the subtle patterns, design criteria and connections between elements that make people love a place. Ranging from the layouts of cities, towns, streets and parks on down to placement of furniture within rooms, interior lighting, and room layout, this book is a gold mine of design thinking based on historical examples of patterns that have worked and continue to work for human habitation. Once you read it your eyes won’t be able to “unsee” the anti-human design that dominates our modern lives. We keep going back to this book and will for as long as we are designing places for people.
If you need to store water for domestic or potable purposes, this book helps navigate the plethora of options available – what makes sense for the cost, embodied energy and complexity. Highly recommended for the DIYer.
The book for choosing, building and using greywater in your landscape. Packed with great information, including the especially important how NOT to do greywater criteria. If you want to build your own greywater system(s), get this book.
The book for dryland water harvesting. Very practical and approachable. With this book you’ll be able to design rain water harvesting systems for pretty much any home or farmstead. The principles extend well beyond just dry lands as well. Excellent resource for just about anyone.
Who wants pizza cooked in an earthen oven!? Everything you need to get started building your own earthen oven – helpful illustrations and plenty of contextual information for a first timer. Build a pizza oven and they will come!
Comprehensive and thorough guide for the DIY RMH builder. If you want to build one of these systems but don’t know where to start, or what red flags to look out for, get this book – it’s all here.
One of our favorite books of all time – brimming with possibility, potential and wisdom gained from decades of practical application. Highly recommended reading for all aspiring natural builders out there.
Step-by-step DIY video for constructing a rocket oven. A very attainable method for cooking with wood again! A great piece of appropriate tech for the urban-wildland edge and other high fire danger areas, rocket stove (and now oven) technology is a great way to cleanly utilize all the small diameter fuels that are so abundant in fire-prone climates, thereby reducing overall fire potential and severity.
Better Wood Heat DVD series (or downloadable video) from Permies.com – an excellent DIY tour of rocket stove technology and how it can be applied to dramatically decrease the amount of fuel needed to heat spaces.
A broad primer on reducing and ultimately eliminating ‘waste’ – and the concept of it – from our modern lifeway.
So much of what makes for a successful garden happens where we can’t see it – underneath the soil. Kourik’s book delves into the dark and mysterious world of roots – how they grow, why their structure matters, and how we can take steps to create the healthiest root systems possible for success above the soil surface.
Well-indexed and researched, Permaculture Plants is a easy to use guide for finding useful trees and plants for most climates. Nutritional and medical information is included and many excellent rehabilitative species are covered.
Perhaps the most approachable learn-it-yourself guide to botany there is – botany in a day focuses down the immense field of plant taxonomy to the really important distinguishing characteristics between different plant families. Being able to simply identify different families quickly in a new landscape is immensely helpful for interpreting what is happening within a landscape at a given place and time. Beautifully illustrated and straightforward.
An indispensable book for navigating the people parts of any design process. Most of our design work involves some level of shared decision-making and group input. This book is the roadmap and toolkit for a designer looking to help a group do its best thinking, and consequently get buy-in from all vested parties involved in the project. A phenomenal book that addresses the most difficult – and potentially most powerful – part of any design – the people.
The one and only. It’s a textbook to be sure, but probably the coolest textbook ever written. A tremendous vault of knowledge, this book is a true gift to the world. An excellent well we return to again and again to remind ourselves of what is possible. This book has achieved heirloom status in our households.
The seminal text for induced meandering and incised channel repair. A dense read that can be rather technical at times, this books covers all manner of water way repair that comes from harmonizing with natural pattern. It truly is about making the small, but very calculated, context-specific adjustments, then stepping back and letting water do the work of restoring stable channels and healthy hydrology.
Joel Salatin is one of the greats at communicating something as large and nuanced as the regenerative paradigm. This book contains many stories, trials, tribulations and hard-won advice to those of us wanting to make a go of it producing food that heals landscapes instead of mining them until they are exhausted and spent. A fun read!
This book includes many tales of just how out of touch our modern industrial food system is with the needs of smaller-scale producers. Joel has been through a lot, and he shares his war stories here. A good book for those looking to also make a living from a smaller (i.e. not a mega farm or CAFO) and ecologically regenerative farming enterprise – just so you know what kind of crazy to expect to run into, and how you might creatively navigate it when it arrives.
Another entertaining and enlightening read from Joel – this book is a cry for sanity and for people to wake up to just how far removed we are from real food. Filled with practical advice as well as the philosophical underpinnings of a world in which diners are connected with the land and creatures that end up on their dinner plates.
A must read for young farmers looking to get access to land and for older farmers looking to partner with up and comers – this book is all about the people part of farming. Joel dives deep into how Polyface runs its intern program, how they structure their working agreements with partnered farmers under the Polyface umbrella. This is an absolutely essential book for anyone looking to create a nested enterprise within a larger existing operation or starting/entertaining the idea of a multi-enterprise ecosystem of businesses sharing the same land base.
You Can Farm is just what it sounds like – a step-by-step and piece-by-piece guide for the entrepreneur-farmer looking to get started on the cheap and begin cash flowing quickly. Along with Fields Of Farmers, this is the other must read book, in our experience, that provides tremendous value to those just starting out. Read this if you don’t know what you don’t know (that’s all of us) and if you want some concrete steps to start building your own farming business.
A beautifully photographed and illustrated guide to the world of silvopasture. Steve Gabriel is one of several strong voices in this realm preaching the virtues, synergies and also the complexities of multi-layered, multi-specied agricultural production models. This book is very inspiring as well as practical – even if you’ve got just a small backyard to work with, the principle and strategies discussed and illustrated in this book can be applied to create stable abundance for the long term wherever you are.
The book for those of you looking to live in community with other like-minded folk. This book is full of hard-earned wisdom, cautionary tales, and practical, step-by-step advice to doing the foundational work required to set up a community that will stand the test of time. Don’t just wing it! Get this book and apply everything in it to give you and your people the best chance for success.
From one of the minds that inspired the concept of permaculture – this book has and will continue to stand the test of time. It speaks directly to the “why” of regenerative agriculture and ties the human spirit to physical work performed in the landscape. This book is revitalizing and gets read every few years – always with some new wisdom to share.
The book on keyline design written by the originator himself P.A. Yeomans. This is a technical book, not the easiest to absorb, however its all there if you’re serious about implementing keyline design in your landscape. Loads of calculations are already done for you, which makes this a very helpful reference when designing water infiltration, retention and application systems for broad acreage.
Interested in getting started with fermentation? This book is awesome – very down to earth, approachable and practical. Filled with recipes and simple know-how that empowers the individual to get creative with confidence!
Possibly the closest thing to a fermenter’s bible that exists, this book has it all. Everything from vegetables, to legumes, beverages to proteins – there is a way (indeed many ways) to ferment it – and increase nutritional value along the way! Even has recipes for bioremediative ferments. A great resource that we reference constantly.
A fantastic resource for all perennial garden enthusiasts and designers. Eric’s book is filled with the lesser known plants that are beautiful, productive and resilient in their appropriate contexts. This book provides so many excellent recommendations for blending the aesthetic with the edible. Plant nerds be warned, this book may cause uncontrollable plant shopping sprees.
Very practical and filled with straightforward how-to advice for home gardeners and small scale producers on selecting, harvesting, cleaning, drying and storing seeds
Our go-to book for anyone looking to seriously engage in orcharding (and food foresting) in a regenerative and ecologically restorative way. So much knowledge and condensed wisdom in the pages of this book.
One of Michael’s earlier books, this is a great deep dive if you’re one of those types that loves everything about growing apples (ask us how we know). Apples are an incredible gift to the world, and this book goes into great detail on how to best tend them in relationship with the surrounding ecosystem.
An invaluable book for anyone seriously committed to growing their own calories and carbon without external inputs. This book is not for those afraid of hard work, but the systems work very well. A great resource for new and veteran gardeners alike, the planting tables are particularly valuable.
For all serious mushroom heads, this book has it all if you’re looking to grow mushrooms in significant quantities as part of an enterprise. Fair warning, this book is rather technical.
A more approachable book on growing, cultivating and using mushrooms that Stamet’s Growing Gourment And Medicinal Mushrooms. The book focuses on low-tech, lower-cost methods for engaging with fungi, in addition to exploring some of their lore and imagining applications for fungal integration in a truly nature-connected world. Awesome book.