Post-Petroleum: Fundamentals of Permaculture Design


Living the Future, Now.

Permaculture Design Course
14-day Intensive Course

This course is not offered at the Ecovillage Training Center in 2010.

Global production of petroleum per capita peaked in the 1970s. With the rise of the industrial economies of China and India, and the population growing by a third in two decades, liquid fuels production is steadily falling behind demand. Prices for gasoline, home energy, plastics, air travel, food, and many other consumer goods are now entering an upward spiral that will only get steeper. Financial institutions and instruments, predicated on access to unlimited energy and products backed only by paper values, are imploding. Suburbia is untenable.

At the same time, the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that was fueled by the century-long binge on cheap fossil fuels has now disrupted a balance in the Earth's climate that has held sway for longer than humans have walked her soil. We are within a degree or so of irreversable tipping points, and if those occur — and they may already be occurring — than the end of happy motoring is the least of our worries.

As Yeats wrote in 1920, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned

From here on, we need to how to live with less, and yet our profligate lifestyles are still expanding, still straining the web of nature. Temporary band-aids will not do. Permaculture is the answer.

This workshop combines the first half of the Permaculture Design Course with introduction to peak oil and climate change, and practical response strategies such as building with straw, cob, earthbags and other natural materials. Participants will learn ecology, energy and resource conservation, social and community skills, and the economics of environmental sustainability. Field trips will include visits to a bamboo nursery and local permaculture projects.

A full design course is being offered at Maya Mountain Research Farm near San Pedro Colombia, Belize in March, 2010.

Dates March 12-21, 2010

Place: Maya Mountain Research Farm

San Pedro Columbia, Belize


Travel far south; to the back of beyond; to a remote

valley accessible only by dugout canoe.  Study

permaculture surrounded by a lush, productive

forest of edibles, medicinals and tropical

hardwoods.  Eat organic food, sleep in dorms

powered by renewable energy, bathe in a sparkling

pure river....


Tucked into the foothills of the Maya Mountains, two miles up river from the village of San Pedro Columbia in southern Belize, Maya Mountain Research Farm is a working demonstration farm and registered NGO that promotes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technology and food security using permaculture principles and applied biodiversity. MMRF is one of Central America’s oldest and premier permaculture farms, and is profiled in State of the World 2010 — Worldwatch Institute’s global almanac in 22 languages.


This is an excellent opportunity to see a well-developed, integrated agroforestry and aquaponic working design, developed from 20 years of observation and experience. Maya Mountain Research Farm is a registered Non Governmental Organization working on issues of food security and biological diversity.


Through lecture, discussion, small groups, site visits and hands on experience, participants will gain the tools to create sustainable, ecologically based homes, farms, businesses and communities.


Instructors include Albert Bates, Andrew Goodheart Brown, Maria Martinez Ros, Christopher Nesbitt and local guest experts. All instructors will be present for the full two weeks, not video-conferenced in.


Cost: USD1250/Belize$2500 includes organic farm fresh meals, all course materials and expeditions, comfortable on-site accommodations, and a Permaculture Design Certificate upon completion of the course.


For Details, or to register, please see or contact Christopher at 

For all course dates in 2010 dates please see our Full Calendar.

Our instructors:

Albert Bates is a former lawyer, paramedic, graphic artist and author of twelve books on energy, environment and law. He produced two films on ecovillages, is the founder of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas, and was a central figure in the creation of the Global Ecovillage Network, where he currently serves as UN representative. He has lectured at universities and government agencies and worked on natural buildings, village infrastructure, and sustainable development on 6 continents. He has been teaching permaculture design courses since 1994.

Andrew Goodheart Brown: M.Sc. in Sustainable Use of Natural Resources; Permaculture Teacher and Practitioner since 1994; International Consultant in Ecological Agriculture; Organic Gardener and Home Orchardist; Gourmet Natural Food Chef; Artisanal Bread Baker and Home Brewer; Endangered Species Observer; Naturalist and Field Biologist.

Maria Martinez Ros has worked as a paramedic, has degrees in psychology (University of Mexico, University of Cleveland) and studied permaculture in Bolivia. She is the Mexican Representative of the Instituto Latinoamericano de Permacultura, Director of Ecodanza, and President of Ecoaldea Gratitud A.C., an ecovillage in Quntana Roo, and works with the state governments of Quintana Roo and the ejidos in the Yucatan. Maria also runs Casa SANARTE in Cancún, which is an alternative therapy center. She has 15 years experience in permaculture, and has worked in Yucatan for the last 5 years.

Christopher Nesbitt has farmed in Belize for over 20 years. He has worked in agroforestry and cacao for much of the last 20 years and serves on the board of directors of Maya Mountain Research Farm, and is the on site manager. He also designs and installs renewable energy systems in protected areas, rural lighting systems, and photovoltaic pumping systems.

Through hands-on sessions each day, students will gain practical experience in integrating a number of simple and valuable technologies into appropriate working solutions for any situation.

Permaculture--Designing for a Sustainable Future

An Earth Activist Training

Learn to create the world of tomorrow, a handful of dirt at a time.

Transform yourself, your community, and the political and economic system.

This course teaches permaculture, with an attitude.

The instructors are biologists, botanists, agronomists, economists and natural builders, but they also include experienced community activists, protestors, legislative aides and draftspeople, labor organizers, conscientious objectors, and geopolitical strategists who have worked out a path from here to Utopia, and the methods needed to get there intact.

In the early 1970's, Australian Bill Mollison coined the word Permaculture from permanent agriculture. But don't think permaculture is just another fancy gardening method because it is much more than agriculture or gardening, it is about addressing the most serious issues of how we humans choose to live on this planet, how we use resources and whether we have any concern for future generations. Much of the discussion about permaculture focuses on gardening, horticulture or design issues, however, the foundation of the permaculture movement rests on deep philosophical questions about living sustainably, caring for the earth and the people.

Unless we begin to live what we believe in we are as hypocritical as the paradigm we are trying to subvert.

Permaculture is less a specific method than it is a broad based, holistic, interdisciplinary approach to the development of the human being. By allowing various aspects of our inner and outer development to compliment each other, and where this is done in a natural and interconnected manner, there is the potential for the whole planet to move towards self-regulation and self-organization, thereby providing a "cultivated" ecosystem.

A permaculturist is likely to study not only horticulture and botany but also geology, climatology, entomology, landscape architecture, hydrology, ichthyology, mycology, forestry, zoology, and just about any Earth science as well as ethics, sociology, political theory, economics, theology, and other aspects of the arts and humanities.

Successful permaculture-based models of land development have shown increased yield and productivity, more return for less work, less disruption of land in general, greater protection for wild lands and an overall healthier approach for people. Through ongoing evaluation and adjustments and a flexible, dynamic outlook, the permaculture approach provides outstanding benefits to the home gardener, commercial market gardeners, and full-scale agricultural operations in all types of climates from the desert to the tropics, alpine mountains to temperate plains.

 Permaculture Principles

  1. Work with nature, rather than against the natural elements, forces, pressures, processes, agencies, and evolutions, so that we assist rather than impede natural developments.

  2. The problem is the solution; everything works both ways. It is only how we see things that makes them advantageous or not (if the wind blows cold, let us use both its strength and coolness to advantage). A corollary of this is that everything is a positive resource; it is just up to us how we may use it as such.

  3. Make the least change for the greatest possible effect.

"Permaculture as a design system is nothing new," Bill Mollison writes in his book Permaculture : A Designer's Manual. "It arranges what was always there in a different way, so that it works to conserve energy or to generate more energy than it consumes." Permaculture uses nature's tools, from simple home gardening techniques to complicated, powerful methods of reversing erosion and desertification.

Many of permaculture's techniques are simple and common sense : recycling rainwater in your garden rather than letting it drain away as in a storm drains, recycling the leaves from your yard and kitchen "wastes" to nourish and build soil, making a place within your land for wild species of birds, insects, plants, and animals, and planting species of plants that are useful in your designed system such as shade trees that provide fruit and perhaps timber for the future.

Using permaculture strategies and techniques anywhere in the world will "dramatically reduce the area of agricultural environment needed by households and the settlements of people, and release much of the landscape for the sole use of wildlife and the re-occupation by endemic flora," Mollison writes.

For more on the science and philosophy, and prodigious links to Permaculture resources worldwide, visit the Permaculture Page at


 In the early 1970s Mollison and Holmgren designed a complete permaculture curriculum for the University of New South Wales. This has been refined by the original authors and others over the past 30 years and is now a standard 72-hour certification course.

"Permaculture" is trademarked by Bill Mollison and copyrighted in several contexts internationally. This means that individuals or business enterprises attempting to apply the mark in a commercial or educational setting will incur legal liabilities to the owners of the mark. The owners have set up a general policy to allow free licensing of the use of the mark to any graduate of an authorized permaculture design certification course. Authority to give such courses and bestow certificates rests with regional Permaculture Institutes.

Therer are today four ways that most people take a PDC course and obtain their certificate, which then allows them to use "Permaculture" professionally.

 1. A correspondence course;

 2. A full Permaculture Design Course, usually conducted on 15 consecutive days;

3. Two partial design courses, Permaculture Fundamentals and Permaculture Practicum, each taking approximately 8 days; or

4. A series of one-day workshops spanning a month or more.

For lists of currently authorized course providers and dates of forthcoming courses, visit the Permaculture Activist at

For a list of the Permculture Course schedule for this year at the Ecovillage Training Center, see our calendar and our current course descriptions.

jk_argearthbag.jpg (13539 bytes)
jk_argcasapilas0.jpg (13341 bytes)
jk_argtubos.jpg (12242 bytes)
fmgh.gif (14323 bytes)
s8.gif (12618 bytes)


Albert Bates and Goodheart Brown

Post-Petroleum : a Permaculture Immersion

Back to ETC courses

"Very adaptable/flexible program and schedule. I do not feel we missed out on any content at all."

"Excellent sharing of knowledge, experience and care to teach through hands-on work. Encouragement and individual attention were always provided, as were answers to questions."

"Very knowledgible about many different building styles. I appreciated the knowledge of world history and the history of civilizations."

"Great songs to help focus on the task at hand."

- participants in the May, 2004 Immersion

Comments are welcome, e-mail: ecovillage at thefarm dot org

Go to | The Farm Home Page | Courses scheduled | Global Ecovillage Network | The Great Change | Global Village Institute

Here is an overview of available resources taken from Transition Culture, Powerswitch, and other open resources:

Recommended Books:

Peak Oil.

Top 5 Essential Peak Oil Books…

Heinberg, R. (2003) The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies. New Society Publishers.
Bates, A. (2006) The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times. New Society Publishers.
Mobbs, P. (2005) Energy Beyond Oil. Leicester, Matador Books.
Simmonds, M.R. (2005) Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. New Jersey, Wiley.
Hartmann, T. (1999) The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: waking up to personal and global transformation. London, Hodder & Stoughton.

and More...

Bakhtiari, A.M.S. (2004) World Oil Production capacity Model Suggests Peak by 2006-07. Oil and Gas Journal. 102(16), April 26th 2004.
Bentley, R.W. (2002) Global oil & gas depletion: an overview Energy Policy 30, pp 189–205.
Brown, L.R. (2006a) Plan B. 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. London, W.W. Norton & Co Ltd.
Campbell, C.J. (2005a) Oil Crisis. Brentwood, Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd.
Campbell, C.J. and Laherrere, J. (1998). The End of Cheap Oil. Scientific American, Vol. 278, No. 3. pp. 78-83.
Chomat, P. (2004) Oil Addiction – the world in peril. Florida, Universal Publishing.
Deffeyes, K.S. (2001) Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage. Princeton University Press.
Deffeyes, K.S. (2005) Beyond Oil : The View from Hubbert’s Peak. New York, Hill and Wang.
Fenderson, A. (2004) Peak Oil and Permaculture: David Holmgren on Energy Descent. Published on 7 Jun 2004 by Global Public Media.
Greene, G. & Silverthorn, B. (2004) The End of Suburbia – oil depletion and the collapse of the American Dream. Electric Wallpaper Company. A DVD Film.
Heinberg, R. (2004) Powerdown - Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World. New Society Publishers.
Hirsch, R.L. (2005a.) The Inevitable Peaking of World Oil Production. Atlantic Council of the United States bulletin. October 2005 XVI(3).
Hirsch, R.L. (2005b.) Supply and Demand. Shaping the peak of world oil production. World Oil, October 2005.
Hirsch, R.L. (2006) Robert Hirsch on Peak Oil Mitigation.. Interview at Global Public Media.
Hirsch, R.L., Bezdek, R Wendling, R. (2005a.) Peaking of World Oil Production – Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management. National Energy Technology Laboratory, US Department of Energy.
Klare, M. (2002) Resource Wars – the new landscape of global conflict. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
Klare, M.T. (2004) Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum (The American Empire Project). New York, Metropolitan Books.
Kraemer, T.D. (2006) Addicted to Oil: Strategic Implications of American Oil Policy Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College.
Kunstler, J.H. (2005) The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century. Atlantic Monthly Press. Leggett, J. (2005b.) Half Gone – oil, gas, hot air and the global energy crisis. London, Portobello Books.
Murphy, P. & Morgan, F. (2004) Cuba: Life After Oil. New Solutions. No. 2 May 2004. Ohio, The Community Solution.
Ruppert, M. (2004) Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. Gabriola Island, New Society Publishers.
Savinar, M. (2004) The Oil Age is Over Life. After The Oil Crash Press.
Staniford, S. (2006) Why peak oil is probably about now. The Oil Retrieved from on Friday, June 16, 2006.

Useful Weblinks:

Peak Oil

Energy Bulletin. Essential, make it the one website you visit every day (apart from this one of course!).
EnergyCrisisNow. Very good peak oil blog.

Community Solution. An excellent resource on community peak oil activism, and organisers of the Community Solution conference each year.
Portland Peak Oil group. A local peak oil group in the US.
The End of Suburbia Where it all started.
Powering Down An excellent blog site in a similar vein to this one.
Museletter. Richard Heinberg’s site.
Living on the Cusp. A British peakoiler, who is part of the TTT process.
The Archdruid Report (John Michael Greer)
The Community Solution
Beyond Oil - The View From Hubbert's Peak (Kenneth Deffeyes)
Life After The Oil Crash
Richard Heinberg: Museletter
James Howard Kunstler Clusterfuck Nation
The Oil Drum
Peak Energy
Peak Oil Anarchy
Population Awareness
Post Carbon Institute
Transition Culture
Peak Oil Primer
Excellent overview of the oil crisis

Hubbert's Peak
A must visit! Named after the late Dr. M. King Hubbert, Geophysicist, this website provides data, analysis and recommendations regarding the upcoming peak in the rate of global oil extraction.
DKospedia Peak Oil
A good peak oil wiki
PeakOilAware - Peak Oil Promotional Material
Promote Peak Oil Awareness with products from PeakOilAware.
Kurt Cobb
Global resource wars: The Rosetta Stone What is the nature of the connection between an ill-planned war in Iraq; the steadily increasing pressure on dissent in the United States; the ongoing estrangement between the United States and its tradition
This site is intended as a virtual watering hole for Alaskans groping their way into a future characterized by increasing high-quality primary-energy-source scarcity, i.e., a "bottleneck" future.
Peakoil Blog
Blogging the global peak and delcine...
Peak Oil Crisis
Good Peak Oil site.
Wolf At The Door
The beginner's guide to oil depletion
An excellent peak oil metadirectory
"If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst."

David Holmgren’s Design Principles, adapted from one of David’s presentations.

Holmgren, D. (2004) Permaculture- principles and pathways beyond sustainability. Holmgren Design Press. You can read my review of this book here.
Whitefield, P. (2005) The Earth Care Manual. Permanent Publications. You can see my review here.
Whitefield, P. (2000) Permaculture in a Nutshell. Permanent Publications. A good light introduction.
Also highly recommended is a subscription to the Permaculture Magazine.

There is also a great interview with David Holmgren here, and recent talks by him here and here.

You can hear in interview with Bill Mollison here. A useful overview of permaculture can be found on Wikipedia. A good article by David Holmgren looking at the principles we explored can be found on his site, click on ‘Writings’ and then the fourth section down, ‘Essence of Permaculture’.


There are loads of books on garden composting. They each have their particular focus. These are the ones I always reach for on the shelf…

Roulac, J. (2003) Backyard Composting. Green Books.
Scott, N. (2003) Composting for All. Green Books.
Campbell, S. (1998) Let it Rot! Gardener’s Guide to Composting. Storey Books.
Pears, P. (2004) Compost: Green Essentials - Organic Guides. Impact Publishing.

handsA very thorough collection of resources to do with Humanure Composting. Here is a bit on how to build a Humanure toilet, and also how to use one. Some good advice on how to make good compost from the HDRA. There’s also a nice straightforward step-by-step guide to composting here. You might also find useful.

A range of good compost bins are available from the Green Shop near Stroud (they do mail order). Rainwater Harvesting Systems near Stroud sell all you need for rainwater harvesting, as do ISS Solutions for Water and FreeRain. I have always been disastrous at worm composting, but you might get it to work for you.

There is also a rather sweet video made by a community in London about how to build compost bins for a community composting scheme. You can also see “Martha” from US television teaching Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch how to make compost, which is silly but quite good fun.

Climate Change:

Bates, A. (1990) Climate in Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect and What You Can Do. Ecovillage Training Center.
Dow, K and Downing, T.A. (2006) The Atlas of Climate Change. Earthscan Books. Mayer Hillman (2005). How to Save The Planet. Penguin Books.

The Climate Project

Stern Report
important report from the chief British government economist and former World Bank chief economist that concludes "there is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now" and that "the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting"
Abrupt Climate Change
Extreme Weather
Global Warming
Human Health
Rising Sea Levels
Vegetation and Ecosystems
War for Oil the BBC Weather Centre presents basic information regarding the evidence, impacts, policies and adaptation to climate change

Climate Change: United Nations Environment Programme GRID - Arendal provides high-quality climate graphics and maps that illustrate the basics regarding climate change

Economics of Climate Change: A Primer a U.S. Congressional Budget Office study which presents an overview of issues related to the economic aspects of climate changeaspects

Global Warming and Your Mutual Fund seeks to provide investors information they can use to assess the extent to which their mutual funds do or do not contain major holdings that are endangered by the financial risks posed by global warming

Special Report on Emissions Scenarios Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides this major report on their various emission scenarios; including their main characteristics, range of preductions, and their use

U.S. NA-- The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change analyzes and evaluates what is known about the potential consequences of climate variability and change for the nation, in the context of other pressures on the public, the environment, and the nation's resources

US National Assessment: Climate Change Impacts on the United States the final approved version of the report of the National Assessment Synthesis Team on the potential consequences of climate variability and change and mechanisms for adaptation; by experts drawn from government, universities, industry, and NGOs NASA provides a comprehensive directory about Earth science and global change data; containing descriptions of data sets of relevance to global change research

California Climate Change Portal the California state government's primary source of climate climate change information of all types - including their leadership and initiatives on progressive climate change policies

Climate Change Education dedicated to global warming science education, climate change science education and global warming solutions

Climate Change Information Network a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change clearinghouse for information sources on public information, education and training in the field of climate change news summaries from around the world with links to various NGO websites in the UK and the US

Earth Sciences Pages: Climatology Virtual Library on climatology; including academic institutions, data archives, projects, international organizations, publications, tutorials, and web indexes

Eldis - Climate change a resource guide on climate change, monitoring news and science

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN) resource for U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy information, plus access to more than 600 links and 80,000 documents

EOS-WEBSTER's Climate Change Resources a compendium of climate change resources providing easy access to climate change data, policy documents, concise summaries of specific climate change issues, and links to additional resources

Fuel Cell Today a comprehensive source for those interested in commercialisation of fuel cells; with free news, in depth articles, investment info, educational resources and industry directories

Global Warming links to energy related sites and some environmental organizations

Northern Climate Exchange an independent source of information on climate change in Northern Canada

Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary: Global Warming and the Third World an electronic information service covering global warming, climate change, sea-level rise and related issues; with particular reference to the situation of the developing world

UNEP.Net Climate change portal a central source for substantive work and information resources regarding climate change, provided by the United Nations Environment Programme

What's New, US Global Change Research Program a listing that is updated monthly to recent Internet scientific materials on climate change and related topics

Yahoo! Directory Climate Change


Clift, J & Cuthbert, A. (2006) Water: Use less, save more. 100 water-saving tips for the home. Green Books, Totnes. Simple and useful.
Ludwig, A. (1995) Create an Oasis with Greywater - Your Complete Guide to Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems. Oasis Design Press. One of the classics on ways of using grey water.
Todd, J. & Todd, N. (1993) From EcoCities to Living Machines - principles of ecological design. North Atlantic Books. Amazingly visionary stuff…

Calculating the Potential Rainwater Harvest from Your Roof.

In order to do this, you need four different pieces of information;

  1. The Area of the Roof. Take this as being the floor area of the house.
  2. The Runoff Co-efficient. This allows for loss of rainwater, from evaporation or from overflows before it reaches the tanks. For pitched roofs you can have a figure of 0.7, flatter roofs are lower, at 0.5.
  3. The Efficiency of the Filter. These filter out leaves and dirt, and lose a small amount of water. Depending on the filter, insert a figure of 0.8 or 0.9.
  4. Annual Rainfall. At the Farm we have 1400 mm (55 inches) per year.

Using these, your formula is: roof area in m2 x runoff coefficient x filter efficiency x rainfall in mm = annual yield in litres.
So, for a house in Tennessee with a pitched roof, it’d be roof area in m2 x 0.7 x 0.9 x 1400 = ?


The Energy Savings Trust. Offer independent advice and information about renewable energy options, and the availability of grants.
Energy Future . Aims to clear away the confusion and dispel the myths and misconceptions about topics such as climate change and DIY energy.

Recommended Reading.

Clift, J. & Cuthbert, A. (2006) Energy: use less – save more. Green Books. Just published, a pocket sized but very informative guide to energy saving.
Mobbs, P. (2005) Energy Beyond Oil. Matador Books. What are the energy options for the UK in the light of peak oil? One of the best books on the subject. Casten, T.R. & Downes, B (2005) Critical Thinking About Energy - The Case for Decentralized Generation of Electricity - January 2005. Simms, A., Kjell, P & Woodward, D. (2005) Mirage and Oasis – energy choices in an age of global warming New Economics Foundation, London.
Greenpeace. (2005) Decentralising Power - an energy revolution for the 21st century. A very thorough report on decentralised energy systems.


You can read about Jean Pain composting here and here. Here is a link to an article about the excellent Ballytobin Anaerobic digestor in Ireland. You can watch an excellent film produced by Greenpeace about decentralised energy systems here. Some useful stuff about smallscale alcohol production can be found here. A recent article in the Guardian gave some useful information on the financial payback of various renewable options. You can buy the reflective panels that go behind radiators here. Energy from woodchips -- this website is a good place to start.

Water, Composting and Human Wastes:

Where does your water go in your house?

33% gets flushed, 25% is used washing ourselves, 18% is spent on drinking and in preparing food, 12.5% is used in our laundry, 8.5% is used when we do the dishes, and 3% is used to wash the car and water our vegetable gardens!

Recommended Reading on Composting Toilets.

Jenkins, J. (2006) The Humanure Handbook - A Guide To Composting Human Manure. (3rd Edition) Jenkins Publications. My favourite book on composting toilets, so simple, so effective. A wonderful mix of science, humour and common sense.
Harper, P & Halestrap, L. (1999) Lifting The Lid; An ecological approach to toilet systems. CAT Publications. A very thorough overview of the compost toilet options available to you, covered in typical CAT thoroughness.
Grant, N, Moodie, M & Weedon, C. (2005) Sewage Solutions - Answering the Call of Nature. (3rd edition). CAT Publications. In the same series as the above, but looks at water-based toilet systems and reed beds.
Del Porto, D & Steinfeld, C. (1999) The Composting Toilet System Book. Sustainable Strategies Publishing. A nice round up of different peoples’ compost loos in the US.
Van der Ryn, S. (1995) The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water. Chelsea Green Publishing. Slightly dated but timeless none the same. A compost toilet classic (yes, there are such things!).

Natural Building:

Evans, I, Smith, M & Smiley, L. (2002) Hand Sculpted House - a practical and philosophical guide to building a cob cottage. Chelsea Green. Quite simply the best book on natural building, and on the philosophy of ’small is beautiful’ as applied to houses.
Alexander, C. (1977) A Pattern Language. Oxford University Press. An essential book on design, identifying a number of subtle ‘patterns’ that make buildings either work or not work. A seminal piece of work, one of few books worthy of being called genius.
Magwood, C & Mack, P. (2000) Straw Bale Building - how to plan, design and build with straw. New Society Publishing. Probably the best strawbale building book around.
Clifton-Taylor, A. (1987) The Pattern of English Building (4th edition). Faber and Faber. An amazing book on the vernacular building traditions of the UK. A scholarly yet readable guide to all the elements (stone, timber, cob etc) that made up our architectural heritage.
Day, C. (2003) Consensus Design - socially inclusive process. Architectural Press. A wonderful book which offers an entirely new way of approaching building design, by starting with a detailed reading of the landscape and assessing what the land would ‘want’ to be built. Compassionate architecture at its finest.
Roy, R. (2003) Cordwood Building - state of the art. New Society Publishing. A very thorough guide to cordwood building.
Borer, P & Harris, C. (2000) The Whole House Book. CAT Publications. One of the best overview ‘what is green building’ books.
Kennedy, J., Smith, M. and Wanek, C. eds. (2002). The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources. Gabriola Island, BC. New Society Publishers. A very good overview of natural building approaches.
Woolley, T. (2006) Natural Building: A Guide to Materials and Techniques. The Crowood Press. A new and very thorough overview of natural building, in a more UK/Ireland context than many of the other books.

There is a nice article about cob here and a good overview of the Passive House concept here. Kevin McCabe is at The group’s thoughts on how to transition towards natural building can be found here.

Money and Economics:

Ithaca Hours..
Time Banks. E.F.Schumacher Society on Local Currencies. Berk Shares. An alternative currency from the US.
A History of Local Currencies.
Calgary Dollars.
The LETS System Design Manual
The Complementary Currency Resource Centre

Recommended Reading.

Boyle, D. (2002). The Money Changers - currency reform from aristotle to e-cash. Earthscan. A good ‘reader’ of short articles on different approaches.
Lietaer, B. (2001) The Future of Money - creating new wealth, work and a wiser world. Century Books.
Douthwaite, R. (1996) Short Circuit - Strengthening local economies for security in an unstable world. Green Books/ISEC. This book is now available online for free. If you read just one book on alternative economics, read this one.
Douthwaite, R. (2000) The Ecology of Money. Schumacher Briefing/ Green Books. This book is available free online here.
Johanisova,N. (2004) Living in the Cracks - A Look at Rural Social Enterprises in Britain and the Czech Republic. Green Books. An excellent overview of community scale social enterprise businesses. Very handy, and available free online here
Douthwaite, R. (1999) The Growth Illusion - How economic growth has enriched the few, impoverished the many and endangered the planet. Green Books
Greco, T. H. (2001) Money -Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender. Chelsea Green publishing.
Huber, J. & Robertson, J. Creating New Money - Monetary reform for the information age. New Economics Foundation. Available for free download here
Kennedy, M. (1995) Interest and Inflation Free Money: Creating an exchange medium that works for everybody and protects the earth. Seva International. Free download. Korten, D. (1996) When Corporations Rule the World. Berrett Koehler.
Macarov, D. (2003) What the Market Does to People - Privatization, Globalization and Poverty. Zed Books.
McIntosh, A. (2004) Soul and Soil - People versus Corporate Power. Aurum Press.
Bonner, W. & Wiggin, A. (2005) Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis John Wiley publishing.
Robertson, J. (1998) Transforming Economic Life: A Millennial Change (Schumacher Briefings). Green Books.
Rowbotham, M. (1998) The Grip of Death - modern money, debt slavery and destructive economics. Jon Carpenter books.
Rowbotham, M. (2000) Goodbye America - Globalisation, debt and the dollar empire. Jon Carpenter books.
Schumacher, E.F. (1993) Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. Vintage.

Food without Oil:

The best report on the oil dependency of our food system was produced by Sustain and is called Eating Oil - food supply in a changing climate. Also an excellent article called The Food We Eat - following the food chain back to Iraq. A wonderful new book on rethinking our cities as farms is Andre Viljoen’s ‘Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes’. You can read Rob Hopkins' review of it here. There is also some great stuff about involving kids in growing food in schools.

Recommended Reading.

Hemenway and Todd (2001) Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, Chelsea Green Publications. The one gardening book we recommend above all others.
Whitefield, P. (2005) The Earth Care Manual. Permanent Publications. By now this should be your bible! You can see a review here.
Fern, K. (1997) Plants for a Future: Edible and Useful Plants for a Healthier World. Permanent Publications. Indispensible guide to unusual plants and their possibilities.
Jeavons, J. (2005) How to grow more vegetables than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine. Ten Speed Press. The guide to growing very high yields of food very intensively. A classic and rightly so.
Whitefield, P. (1996) How to Make a Forest Garden. Permanent Publications. Does everything it says on the tin really.
Larkcom, J. (1998) Grow Your Own. Frances Lincoln. One of the better ‘everything a gardener needs to know’ books. Fits in a (large) pocket.
Guerra, M. (2005) The Edible Container Garden: Fresh Food from Tiny Spaces. Gaia Books. An excellent permaculture guide to an abundant back yard.
Hickmott, S. (2003) Growing Unusual Vegetables: weird and wonderful vegetables and how to grow them Ecologic Books. A valuable guide to some of the more unusual plants that might grace a permaculture garden. You can read a review of this book here
Pullen, M. (2004) Valuable Vegetables: Growing for Pleasure and Profit. Ecologic Books. A very honest and practical guide to running a market garden. You can read a review of this here
Bartholemew, M. (2006) All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! Cool Springs Press. A simple approach for maximum output from very small spaces.
Fukuoka, M. The One Straw Revolution. Hard to find but available here
Stout, R. (1976) The No Work Garden Book. White Lion Publishers. Out of print but findable second hand.

The contents of the Zones:

Zone 0 - The house or other centre of activity.
Zone 1 - Herb spiral, pick’n’pluck vegetable beds, cut’n’come again vegetable beds, intensive annual beds, vines, container growing, wood store, workshop, small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs), compost, clothes line, rainwater harvesting, worm bin, greenhouse, pond, step-over cordon fruit trees
Zone 2 - Maincrop vegetables, forest garden, orchards, grain gardens, water storage, chicken forage, small livestock animals, tool shed, lawns (?), mushrooms
Zone 3 - unpruned and unmulched orchards, animal pasture, windbreaks, coppice woods, large nut trees and other animal forage trees
Zone 4 - semi-managed, semi-wild woodland managed for timber, wildlife and forage crops
Zone 5 - wilderness, where we are visitors, not managers


Woodland Management.

Brooke, A. (1980) Woodlands: a practical handbook. BTCV.
Evans, J. (1984) Silviculture of Broadleaved Woodlands - Forestry Commission Bulletin 62. HMSO, London.
Marsh, S. (1993) Nature Conservation in Community Forests. London Ecology Unit. Ecology Handbook 23.
Peterken, G. (1993) Natural Woodland. Cambridge University Press.
UK Forestry Commission. (1994) Creating New Native Woodlands. UK Forestry Commission.
UK Forestry Commission. (1992) Establishing Farm Woodlands. UK Forestry Commission.
Law, B. (2001) The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach to Sustainable Woodland Management. Permanent Publications.
Broad, K. (1998) Caring for Small Woods. Earthscan.


Crawford, M. (Various) Chestnuts: Production and Culture, Hazelnuts: Producton and Culture,
Walnuts: Production and Culture. Available from the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Simms, C. (2006) Nutshell Guide to Growing Hazelnuts. Orchard House Books.
Simms, C. (2003) Nutshell Guide to Growing Walnuts Orchard House Books.

Forest Gardening.

Hart, R. (1987) Forest Gardening. Green Books. Where it all started. Whitefield, P. (1997) How to Make a Forest Garden. Permanent Publications. The best beginner’s guide.
Jacke, D. (2006) Edible Forest Gardens (Volumes 1 & 2) Chelsea Green Publications. The master work on the subject. Brilliant, but not for beginners.

Growing Fruit.

Baker, H. (1999) Growing Fruit (Royal Horticultural Society’s Encyclopaedia of Practical Gardening). Mitchell Beazley.
Berry, S. (2004) Kitchen Harvest: A Cook’s Guide to Growing Organic Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs in Containers Frances Lincoln.
Simms, C. (2004) Nutshell Guide to Growing Figs: Everything You Need to Know in a Nutshell. Orchard House Books.
Simms, C. (2004) Nutshell Guide to Growing Grapes: Everything You Need to Know in a Nutshell. Orchard House Books.
Flowerdew, B. (2000) Bob Flowerdew’s Complete Fruit Book: A Definitive Sourcebook to Growing, Harvesting and Cooking Fruit. Kyle Cathie Books.
Guerra, M. (2005) The Edible Container Garden: Fresh Food from Tiny Spaces. Gaia Books. Where I got all the specifications on pot sizes for trees in small back gardens (or front gardens for that matter I suppose…).

Daily Schedule 2009 Belize Course (sample)

Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
CDT 20-Mar-2009 21-Mar-2009 22-Mar-2009 23-Mar-2009 24-Mar-2009 25-Mar-2009 26-Mar-2009 27-Mar-2009 28-Mar-2009 29-Mar-2009 30-Mar-2009 31-Mar-2009 1-Apr-2009 2-Apr-2009
7:15 Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast
8:15   Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Morning Chores Closing
8:30 Pick up in PG Getting to know you Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle Circle  
9:00 to Columbia Observation of Ecological Gardening Home Orchard       Ecovillage Urban Principles Review   Team Dories arrive
ONE boat up river Natural Systems Systems & Soils  & Windbreaks Design Charette   Home System Design Design Assign Design Conservor Design for luggage @9
75 min to MMRF Reading Landscape       Burton   & Bioregionalism Ecobarrios Project & Teams Society   Walk or Tube
10:15       Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea       Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea     Morning Tea down river
10:30 INTRODUCTIONS Patterns Zones and Sectors Mapping   Burton's Market Wastes Animals Appropriate Design Office/ Team  
TWO overview in Nature Erosion Site Site Analysis Charette Review   Recycling and Stacked Technology Client Interviews Earning Design  
90 min agreements and Design Catastrophe Measurements     Humanure Systems & Energy or Site walks a Living    
12:00 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch from Caliz Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
  Chore Orientation Project Orientation Chores/Project Chores/Project Chores/Project
Chores/Project Chores/Project Chores/Project Team Work Team Work Team Work
2:00 Evidence Site Tour Keyline Planting Microclimate Food Security Hiking or       The Ground Below: Drawing Skills Presentation Skills  
THREE Ethics Observation Swales Forests & Trees Nutrition, Storage Tubing   Design Process   Zacatlantiloli Making Shapes   Team
90 min Empowerment Pattern Interpretation Roof, Earthworks   Peak Oil Preps Blue Creek Cave     & Pacarilla Perspective   Presentations
3:30 Afternoon Tea Afternoon Tea Afternoon Tea Afternoon Tea Afternoon Tea The Source   Afternoon Tea   Afternoon Tea Afternoon Tea    
3:45     Sheet Mulch Water Cleaning Building and Lubaantun     Saul Garcia Drawing a site map Team  
FOUR Permaculture Water:  Catch, Store, Compost Aquaculture  vernacular design     Group Process Farm Economics   Design  
105 min Design Principles Use, Conserve Guilds Ponds and Dams in the tropics     & Consensus   and Money Site Analysis   Instructor
        Healing Modalities         /Info Gathering   Review
5:30 Break Break Break Break Break Break Break Break Break Break Break Break Break
6:00 Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper Supper
7:30 - 9:00 Exponential Function Crude Awakening Ginger Beer Bamboo Chinalmpas & Milpas Cacao and Vanilla What a Way to Go Aquaponics No Talent Show Plenty? Global Strategy Broadscale/Lawton Party and Gifting
CUBA: Power of Community Story of Stuff Synthetic Sea