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on 20 July 2016
I have obviously bought a book I am far too stupid to understand. If I had bought this book as a novice gardener, I don't think I would have ever started. This is not a book for people wanting to understand the principles of Permaculture and then applying them to their own gardens, If you want a book that explains things like building soil fertility, plant lists, and all the other things you really need to know, go and buy The Permaculture Garden by Graham Bell. This is a book written for people who have been on permaculture design courses who are now designing gardens for other people. On the other hand, if you love flow charts, mind maps and teeny drawings, this book is for you
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on 10 February 2015
I'm not a very organised sort of person.

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.
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on 13 October 2017
So very disappointing :( I followed Aranya's original blog and then the first website many years ago and learned a great deal at the time. I also lived near to the Sustainability Center, so luckily have a pretty good knowledge of what permaculture is all about.
I recently moved and have limited internet, so bought Aranya's book, expecting the same information, pictures guides and in-depth details of zones and how to create and use them. The original blog had great tips for recycling, lots of clear photos of projects and lovely ideas on how to maximise space with things like the herb spiral. None of this was included in the book, just a lot of waffle.
Unfortunately, this book seems aimed at working for a client base rather than permaculture for your own life changes. Part of the book, especially the section on preparing a guide for a client, left me baffled and disheartened.
The passages are overly long the diagrams are too small to be of any use and there just seems to be a lack of direction to this book.
Unless you have a good knowledge of permaculture, be prepared to feel bewildered.
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on 15 November 2017
Very disappointing. I am a novice and this book did not help me at all. I think it is intended for people who are doing this as a job. It was very client orientated. I bought it because it says there details even for beginners and charts and so on which it does not have. total waste of money for me......
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on 29 January 2016
To me, this book maps the world of Permaculture. When moving from simple design to something more complex, particularly if planning to buy land and designing your future around sustainable permaculture principles, or advising someone else who intends to do it, complexity grows so quickly that 'design tools' become essential in getting a clear understanding of what to do. Aranya's publications have always been a delight to read and to follow and this one is a masterpiece from an expert in the field and his book-making team. A truly massive amount of data is packed into a 191 page A5 size book yet the contents are so clearly and logically set out that the contents are easily read and readily understandable and it covers everything very thoroughly but without the slightest feeling of being condensed - an amazing feat in itself! Anyone considering going beyond the small garden, or who wants an interesting read and enlightenment, should get this book. It is also a must-have reference book for anyone's Permaculture library and a guaranteed re-read for lots of years to come.
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on 3 May 2012
As an apprentice on the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and a Gaia University Associate, no other book has come close to the amount of times I have referenced it as much as Aranya's guide to the design process.

I was fortunate to receive a pre-printed copy as part of a diploma support event I had attended with Aranya. Ever since I have continued to go back to the pages time and time again.

Aranya goes through the design process in a beautifully clear way - no other permaculture textbook really comes close to its logic and practicality. Always backed up with real life examples, Aranya brings the design process alive.

Whenever I've felt lost in a maze of analysis - whether its designing for my smallholding or for the community projects I organise with - Aranya's book helps me to get the process straight in my head. The flowcharts, key questions and design tools all help me to organise my thinking in a way that I can get the most out of the design process.

As a permaculture columnist for Positive News, I also get sent a whole lot of books to review for my permaculture pages. This has been one of the most useful books I have had to review in the job to date.

If you are new to permaculture, or you are completing the diploma or even if you are an experienced designer - get this book! It is a must and one of the most useful texts in the permaculture toolkit to date!

Even if you've never heard of permaculture before, make the most of these tools to help re-design your life or projects you care about, you will not be disappointed!
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on 21 April 2012
This small book is perfect for anyone who has done a pdc or is thinking of doing one and plans to take their designing beyond their home garden or pdc project and it sets a great example as it was clearly designed using the 80/20 principle itself fulfilling the principle that "each important element has multiple functions"-it takes the reader through a step by step guide to each stage of the design process and nicely fills a very important niche in the permaculture book shelf. It includes some great tips & tools, high and low tech, around observing, mapping, placement etc and even includes a section on non-land based designs - if you want one and are serious about the ethics of permaculture contact the author and purchase a copy direct
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on 23 May 2013
This book was not at all what I was expecting about design. Most of the book is dedicated to 101 on project management and team building. There is very little on actually on design, I would expect a lot more examples so very disappointed.
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on 9 August 2017
I have bought it before wanting to set up a garden, however from reading through, it covers the concepts of designing in great detail. Whereas other books tell you principles of permaculture and which plants go here or there. what the designs could look like. This book is all about how to design your garden.
Such a great guide for those like me who will be starting from scratch with no design background
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on 8 October 2012
First of all, it's a fun book to read; easy format, font and language usage (especially for someone who's mother tongue isn't English).

The book is more about general Design rules and how to teach designers to become teachers themselves, applied on Permaculture.
Don't expect him to hold your hands via the book, you have to grow as a person by reading this and make your own decisions.

Anyone who is interested in broadening their mind on gardening and the design thinking that goes behind it should read this book.

The only down point is a lack of in-depth information, raw data examples for instance but this would make the book a lot bigger and uncomfortable to carry around.

Enjoy reading it! I had a blast.
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