Toby Hemenway is the author of the first major North American book on permaculture, Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, and an adjunct assistant professor at Portland State University. He wrote the foreword for Heather C. Flores' Food Not Lawns. After obtaining a degree in biology from Tufts University, Toby worked for many years as a researcher in genetics and immunology, first in academic laboratories including Harvard and the University of Washington in Seattle, and then at Immunex, a major medical biotech company. At about the time he was growing dissatisfied with the direction biotechnology was taking, he discovered permaculture, a design approach based on ecological principles that creates sustainable landscapes, homes, and workplaces. A career change followed, and Toby and his wife spent ten years creating a rural permaculture site in southern Oregon. He was associate editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture, from 1999 to 2004. His current project is developing urban sustainability resources in Portland, Oregon, where he now lives. He teaches permaculture and consults and lectures on ecological design throughout the country. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. He is available for workshops, lectures, and consulting in ecological design. Visit his web site at http:// www.patternliteracy.com
Hemenway, a permaculture expert and associate editor of The Permaculture Activist, explains how gardens can function as ecosystems, describes the basic parts of an ecological garden (soil, water, plants, and animals), and shows how to create backyard ecosystems through guilds. Guilds, the author tells us, are groups of plants that function as an ecosystem to provide products for humans, create cover and food for wildlife, nourish the soil, conserve water, and repel pests. A simple example of a guild is the "three sisters" (corn, beans, and squash); corn stalks provide a trellis for beans, the beans supply nitrogen to the soil, and the squash leaves inhibit weeds and conserve water. While Hemenway's ideas are intriguing, creating guilds specific to an area involves extensive research, which involves either observing plant communities in the wild or using books or university contacts. In addition, the author doesn't sufficiently explain how to incorporate the many sun-loving vegetables and flowers into guilds, which are often shade-oriented. Recommended only for botanical and academic libraries. Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Gaia's Garden is simply the best permaculture book ever written, and is in the running for best gardening book ever written. No one should be without it."--Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front "The world didn't come with an operating manual, so it's a good thing that some wise people have from time to time written them. Gaia's Garden is one of the more important, a book that will be absolutely necessary in the world ahead."--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and Hope, Human and Wild "Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden will be recorded in history as a milestone for gardeners and landscapers--a fusion of the practical and the visionary--using the natural intelligence of Earth's symbiotic communities to strengthen and sustain ecosystems in which humans are a partner, not a competitor. An amazing achievement showing how we can and must live in harmony with nature!"--Paul Stamets, author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World "Permaculture gardens are no longer a thing of the future. They are here to stay and flourish. Gaia's Garden is enlightening and required reading for all people who desire to make their home's landscape healthy, sustainable, and healing."--Robert Kourik, author of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape--Naturally "Toby's fun, well-grounded, and engaging book is fast becoming a classic, and deservedly so. Practical yet visionary, broad-ranging yet focused on the basics one needs to know, this is a great place to start on the permaculture path. The new edition builds solidly on the success of the first. Congratulations!"--Dave Jacke, co-author of the two-volume Edible Forest Gardens "Become a sustainable producer of resources instead of a wasteful consumer. This wonderful book shows you how by helping you create and enhance beautiful backyard ecosystems within the garden. Put this book into action, and you'll begin to live an example that positively shifts your own community and beyond. Best of all, doing so with this book is simple, juicy, and fun."--Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond and http: //www.HarvestingRainwater.com