The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience

The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience

Permaculture is more than just the latest buzzword; it offers positive solutions for many of the environmental and social challenges confronting us. And nowhere are those remedies more needed and desired than in our cities. The Permaculture City provides a new way of thinking about urban living, with practical examples for creating abundant food, energy security, close-knit communities, local and meaningful livelihoods, and sustainable policies in our cities and towns. The same nature-based approach that works so beautifully for growing food―connecting the pieces of the landscape together in harmonious ways―applies perfectly to many of our other needs. Toby Hemenway, one of the leading practitioners and teachers of permaculture design, illuminates a new way forward through examples of edge-pushing innovations, along with a deeply holistic conceptual framework for our cities, towns, and suburbs.

The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures. Hemenway lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our needs for food, water, shelter, energy, community, and livelihood in sustainable, resilient ways. Readers will find new information on designing the urban home garden and strategies for gardening in community, rethinking our water and energy systems, learning the difference between a “job” and a “livelihood,” and the importance of placemaking and an empowered community.

This important book documents the rise of a new sophistication, depth, and diversity in the approaches and thinking of permaculture designers and practitioners. Understanding nature can do more than improve how we grow, make, or consume things; it can also teach us how to cooperate, make decisions, and arrive at good solutions.


  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (July 31, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603585265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603585262
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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  1. (Disclosure: this review was previously posted on

    When Toby Hemenway and his wife moved to the country to live a bucolic life in a sustainable, environmental way, what he learned was quite the opposite of being more environmentally sound.

    In fact, their ecological footprint turned out to be far larger than if they lived in the city. They needed a car to go anywhere, services and stores were beyond walking distance miles away, and their social lives were severely limited. When Hemenway added up the impact of his country lifestyle, he had to admit there was a better way to live a greener life – move back to an urban area, and later, write a book about it. The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience is that book.

    The Permaculture City integrates the concepts and practices of permaculture within an urban setting. Granted, the city is often the last place one thinks of as environmental, but Hemenway says,

    “The human-nature bond can be lost in cities if we’re not careful, and I think we go somewhat insane without it. Cities can help keep their surrounding regions both ecologically and economically healthy by fostering connections that are intended to do that, rather than ignore or simply exploit their surroundings.”

    According to Hemenway, a truly healthy city incorporates a diversity of offerings that address the physical, social, and emotional needs of the dweller; his book bridges the gap between city and country, and is rich in the history of how our current urban models came about, where they went wrong, and how they can be changed and improved.Read more ›

  2. This is a delightful book for both the avid permaculturist (or “Permie”) or the person wanting to understand this natural design process. I’ve immediately applied principles from this book to my own home environment. I also highly appreciate Toby’s description of permaculture in the social context, with examples. I used his approach to advocate for the inclusion of resiliency, leverage, and feedback in informing how legal services are delivered in rural Washington. Permaculture is more than your garden; it’s about systematic thinking. Toby communicates that brilliantly. This is a must read for project managers, executive directors, and managers.

  3. This book is a masterpiece. Toby Hemenway may well be the most articulate and knowledgeable spokesman for Permaculture yet, for besides being a master gardener par excellence, he is also very well grounded in cultural history, systems design, and urban planning.

    While most people (who have even heard of it) view Permaculture as a 1970s-style countercultural agrarian movement, a set of interrelated practical suggestions for growing organic gardens or farms and becoming more self-reliant, Hemenway fully grasps and explains the deeper implications of the movement–as a rigorous set of systems-based, ethically grounded regenerative design principles, rooted in a deep understanding of natural processes, that can be applied to any human activity at any scale–from organizing one’s work space or planning one’s day at home or work, through home, garden, and landscape design, all the way to community organizing, city planning, and ultimately, saving our precious living planet from a global disaster that is otherwise inevitable.

    Hemenway has convinced me beyond any doubt that Permaculture is the next major step in human cultural evolution–the momentous step beyond our current, destructive alienation from nature due to the agricultural/industrial revolution toward a realization of our oneness with all of life and our ideal human potential–as symbiotic agents of global healing, rather than as parasitic agents of global systemic collapse. If you are ready to move beyond despair to authentic empowerment, this book is indispensable.

  4. If you are tired of hearing about all our social and environmental problems and want practical solutions that you an ordinary person can put to easy practice in the city, suburb or town you live in, you have to read this book! This book can help you do things to battle climate change, rebuild run down neighborhoods, and rejuvenate your local environment and economy, n you can start with your own home.

  5. Beginning in urban areas regenerating dead systems into life giving systems with a wholeness perspective using permaculture design…… Principles….. Tools….. Problems into solutions……

  6. The next step in permaculture is here! Urban & suburban communities need this critical addition to Toby’s already stellar catalog. THANK YOU TOBY!!!!!!

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