In this Book Aranya gives the reader a full breakdown of how to go about designing a permaculture system from the very beginning. He encourages people to slow down and really think about the design details rather than getting too excited and just rushing into it. Just a few things that the book looks at are: systems and patterns, land based design and beyond, site surveying and mapping, identifying functions and setting goals, and implementation and maintenance planning.
When I bought this book I was at the start of my permaculture route, and initially I have found it overwhelming. The more I learn about permaculture design, the more I value this book. This book is for those who want to apply permaculture with a very structured approach, professionally and effectively. I believe I still need much more experience to truly take advantage of all information and methods covered in this book. I would recommend it for advanced readers.
Aranya's book was one of my first encounters with permaculture and still has kept to my mind often. I had not taken a PDC at the time and thought this book would have let me design without undergoing the straight path.
The read was easy, clear and very hands on. But after stopping on some sectors of the text I strarted to understand that even a simple sentence had something deep that was just under the surface. I couldn't stop at the surface but had to delve into permaculture design. Now that I've finished my PDC I can say the book is even more better because you get the core of design, and have a guide that takes you through it's major phases.
I'm deisgning my project for the PDC and have taken Aranya's book from the shel,f and in these days of intense thinking, of reshaping, it is always by my side.
The book has three sections and they all follow the official curriculum that any student folows in a PDC, with the third and last that goes even a little further showing the reader how design can involve many different apsects of life and social relations. The official curriculum though is followed with an eye on it's practical output, this is book is for designers.
One can tell from the way the whole book is built that the author is an experienced teacher, he knows what he's speaking about and knows how to put it right for eveyone.
The best point in this book is that you get to enter on the web a whole section of resources that help you get through the design stage, Aranya's gives you the possibility to download some useful datasheets that are awesome now I'm in design.
Aranya takes the reader step by step along the path of design and after one should be able to walk alone, but in any case the book is there, with it's small pocket format ready for quick reference even on the field.
The pocket size is a great conscious choice the author and editor have done to make the book for the reader a pocket must.
I love ideas. I love experiments. I love reading. I love learning new stuff. I love sharing what I learn. But I'm not very good at pulling everything together into any semblance of order.
About five years ago, I took an online permaculture design course, but when it came to drawing up the final design, I ground to a halt. I told myself it was because I hadn't done enough experiments to determine exactly what could be persuaded to grow where, so I'd need to spend a few more years trying stuff out. A final design, after all, is final. Isn't it? So it needs to be exactly right.
Perhaps if Aranya's book had been available five years ago things would have been a little different. In his book, Aranya gives you all the tools you need to assess a property, the needs of the people living there, the resources available and any fellow workers on a project, and then leads you step by step through the whole design process of taking each element and weaving them together into an intricate and self sustaining web.
Where the book scores is that it does exactly what it says on the cover - it walks you through the whole process. You never get left asking yourself 'I wonder what I should I do next?' because he's right there taking you by the hand and leading you through it. On the way he gives you a collection of tools to use to help keep you on track.
The book is divided into three main parts - preparations, the design process, and beyond land based design.
In part one, preparations, he introduces patterns, system thinking, spirals of erosion, and principles and directives that will help guide your design, followed by advice on what constitutes effective design and how to organise your team of helpers to get the best out of them.
Part two, the design process, is the real nitty-gritty of the book. This covers surveying the site, drawing your base map, recording site information, interviewing clients, analysis, placement, design proposal, implementation, maintainence and evaluation and presenting to a client.
Part three, beyond land based design, shows how permaculture design can be applied to other aspects, like course timetables, social structures or even your own life.
The whole book is designed to be small enough and well enough laid out to be useful out in the field. Each section has a useful summary of key points to keep you on track, and there is a great mix of high-tec and low-tec tools so you can select the most appropriate for your needs. He understands that when working for a client with a team of helpers that you will need to be very professional and organised, but appreciates that a lot of people are working on a budget and for themselves, so he's laid the book out with instructions on which bits to skip in different circumstances - you don't need to spend much time organising a team of one or writing a proposal to yourself!
This book fills a huge void in permaculture literature. Anyone thinking of designing properties for other people will find it indispensable, and I can't imagine there are many people who only want to design for themselves who wouldn't benefit from having this book by their side as they plan out their dreams and their gardens. It's not a complete introduction to permaculture, it is a toolbox and how-to guide for pulling everything together into a coherent, self-supporting whole. The book itself is laid out so it's very easy to dip into, with plenty of relevant diagrams and lots of sub-headings so you can quickly locate the info you are looking for. My advice is to read it right through once, then keep it in your pocket as you are out and about.
Aranya recently made this video which introduces some of the ideas in the book.
I found the book to be helpful indeed and thorough for explaining design concepts and process. I learned new aspects of surveying and plotting points and creating maps. I wish there had been a chapter on or information included in the implementation chapter that cited past designs and experiences specifically focused on plants/shrub/tree types, naming some varieties, and how/where the author placed them and reasoning behind the placement choices. I feel like this book is more targeted to those who want to be a permaculture designer for hire instead of a farmer/gardener such as myself, though I did take away from the reading some useful information that I can apply to my location.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht