The Permaculture Guidebook

By Xpand Foundation

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The Permaculture Guidebook A little bit of context

The story of the project: The original 400 page Permaculture Guidebook from East Timor has been an outstanding success. First published in 2006 by Permatil and authored by Lachlan McKenzie and Ego Lemos, an updated version was produced in 2008 and three subsequent re-printings of the updated Tetum language versions.

The guidebook provides knowledge, techniques and skills that will reduce the severity of global climate change and provide adaptation and resilience knowledge and skills to those impacted the most by climate change and who are the least able to afford expensive solutions.

Since publication, the guidebook has been copied and used in many different countries including Sri Lanka, Samoa, Nepal, Australia, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Uganda and Haiti.

Users include indigenous and non indigenous, urban and remote communities, farmers and field workers, development agency workers, schools and training institutions, government agencies, and international NGOs in Timor Leste, Australia and across the world.

Permaculture generally is the design of sustainable communities. This includes organic agriculture, housing, animal husbandry, forestry, waste management, environmental care and more, and is specific to each environment and population where it is implemented.

Current cultural and agriculture systems are depleting, degrading and destroying our resources, agricultural land and community strength as well as creating potentially disastrous climate change.

The new edition of the guidebook will assist subsistence farmers living in tropical areas throughout the world and provide personal, community, health, economic, environmental and development work benefits.

Sustainable food production methods result in better nutrition and improved health outcomes.

Why is this project important?

There are no tropical permaculture books at the scale of the Permaculture Guidebook available and nowhere near enough literature available on sustainable tropical food production.

The Permaculture Guidebook is now out of print and this is a good time to review and update the content, illustrations and formatting of the original book as well as broadening the focus for urban, rural and remote communities in all tropical and sub-tropical regions across the world.

'there are few manuals of this type in the world, the type that 'cut to the chase' and give real, tested solutions to those who need it most and those who seek to help others' Regrarians Australia

Here's what we're doing about it

The new edition, A Tropical Permaculture Guidebook. A Gift from Timor Leste. International Edition is being created by the original writers Lachlan McKenzie and Ego Lemos in collaboration with Permatil, the xpand Foundation and Disruptive Media. The updated 500+ page guidebook will be a practical reference source for implementing permaculture techniques specific to tropical and sub-tropical climates.

The content will be reviewed, updated and expanded so that the techniques are easily understood, particularly by people with low literacy levels, whilst also creating a highly attractive and easy to read guidebook. The new edition will be available as a traditional paper based book and a free e book, uploaded chapter-by-chapter in a web-friendly online format to the and open education websites.

The free online edition will show step by step how to implement some of the techniques e.g. composting, propagation, terracing and aquaponics.

The initial editions will be produced in English with a partner project to translate the finished product into the Timorese language Tetum and other translations as required.

How the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook will make a difference

The numerous positive impacts and benefits from the publication of this guidebook have already been achieved and noted from various projects in Timor Leste, from a government level through to NGO projects and in the villages and communities and include:

  • Personal and community benefits (increased knowledge and abilities, improved and varied food production, food sovereignty, resilience, literacy)
  • Health benefits (health and nutrition improvements, less waste, improved animal husbandry, cleaner reliable drinking water)
  • Economic benefits (improved and varied food production, local enterprise opportunity, less use of expensive fossil fuels)
  • Environmental benefits (cleaner protected water systems, increased use of renewable energy sources, reduced burning and erosion, improved soil and land management, reforestation, sustainable agro-forestry skills from nursery to harvest, integrated animal grazing strategies,
  • Benefits for development work (reference source, training, curriculum content)
These impacts have flow on economic benefits as well. Value adding to produce in communities through local business and community cooperatives that keeps money in the community as well as increasing income potential.

A clay stove can decrease the cooking fuel bill by 6080%. Natural fertilising and pest control methods can decrease food production costs.

An additional positive impact is that Permatil will receive continued income for their ongoing projects through book sales and online sales of education packages. This will be vital for ensuring that permaculture knowledge continues to be shared and practiced in Timor Leste.

What is permaculture?

Permaculture is designing sustainably abundant societies as part of protecting and preserving water supply, agricultural land and the greater environment by using practices that enable agriculture and culture to slowly improve and strengthen as time progresses.

If permaculture methodology and design is applied wisely, the result is that each system is different, each system is resilient, each system is a natural response to the people's needs, the land, the skills and the resources available, and that each system, individual households to large land holdings, small and large businesses etc, is contributing to a sustainable planet both on its own and as part of a community, a region, nationally and globally.

Better animal management and integration with agro-forestry will provide more food, more wealth security and important environmental outcomes such as reduced erosion and protected water sources.

What we will do

This project aims to raise seed funding for Phase 1 of the project which includes:

Phase 1: A comprehensive review and update of the guidebook with the authors, Permatil and existing users (includes teachers, farmers, community groups, other NGOs, and government staff); the collation of new and reviewed information collected over the last six years; and, a new chapter by chapter plan.

Further stages (to be funded separately) include:

Phase 2: Rewrite, integrate and edit of the new content and create additional illustrations.

Phase 3: Design and production of ebook and paper-based versions.

Phase 4: Editing and proofreading of final format by renowned permaculture experts.

Phase 5: Launch at the International Permaculture Convergence in September 2015 in London, England.

Each phase of the project will have support and funding from a variety of agencies however it is critical we gain seed funding for Phase 1 to ensure we get this significant project off the ground.


Book review - authors, experts and community - $12,000
Research - $3,800
Collation of reviews, updates - $3,000
Travel expenses - $4,500
Administration - $1,700
Total - $25,000


'The permaculture book makes me more understanding to better appreciate nature, and why sustainable agriculture is essential for our survival ' (farmer, Bali)

'a complete guide to build an integrated system. Not only in agriculture but also in the system sustainable utilisation of natural resources other as alternative energy. I also use this book as a guide in teaching the children at the school that I manage' (farmer, West Java)

'we recommend the Permaculture Guidebook as being THE go-to manual for tropical human settlement design, development and management. We highly recommend everybody get behind and support the current campaign to have it become further developed and enhanced into a global edition and its certainly needed' (Lisa J. Heenan, Isaebella Doherty & Darren J. Doherty, Directors and Volunteers, Regrarians Ltd. Australia)

'a stunningly effective hand book, largely because of its massive number of commissioned drawings which capture the practicalities of permaculture in action' (Graham and Annemarie Brookman, The Food Forest)

'it's strength lies in the number of strategies and techniques it offer practitioners ... the book's potential is beyond the islands of SE Asia ...I had some chapters of the book translated into Luganda in Uganda and it was immediately swallowed up by keen students and we could have printed many many copies ... I hope the present book will be revised, updated and made available to students and farmers to meet a need for their will and right to know, and render their lives more sustainable and productive' (Rosemary Morrow, Permaculture author, trainer and practitioner)

'The new edition of the guidebook promises to be incredibly valuable to anyone who reads it, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged ... I can't wait to read and to share the new Tropical Permaculture Guidebook with the communities I work with and with all members of the Remote Indigenous Gardens Network' (Anthea Fawcett, Founder, Remote Indigenous Gardens Network)

The Project Team

The project team share a common vision and ethos: to promote permaculture; to work directly with farmers, youth and community members; to provide education and skills that will improve people's resilience and capacity to live a good quality life; to protect and repair our fragile environment and agricultural lands; and to provide access to information for those who need it.

Permatil (Permaculture Timor Leste) – Permatil is a Timorese NGO which activities include: permaculture courses; creation of demonstration gardens across Timor Leste; establishment of the national farmers network Hasatil; development of a Permascouts movement combining Scouts with permaculture; partnering with NGOs (e.g. Concern International, Oxfam, Trocaire, GTZ, Belun and Caritas); working with Timorese groups (e.g. Arte Moris, Bibi Bulak) to develop educational materials (e.g. the original Tropical Permaculture Guidebook, teachers flip-chart series, posters, films and children's books); and conducting sustainability and food sovereignty gatherings and conferences.

Lachlan McKenzie – has been involved with permaculture, organic gardening and sustainability for over 20 years. He has lived and worked in Timor Leste and Indonesia and now resides in Darwin Australia. His work includes: teaching; development of curriculums and educational materials; site design and creation; co-author of the original Tropical Permaculture Guidebook from Timor Leste; Facilitators Handbook for Tropical Permaculture Guidebook; permaculture educational DVD (with Petra Schneider and IDEP Foundation); creation of the Lakeside Drive Community Garden Darwin; coordination of garden opens days; teaching organic gardening and permaculture courses; Coordinator with Top End Transition's Garden Education Network (DGEN); and, Advisor for the Remote Indigenous Gardens (RIG) Network.

Eugenio "Ego" Lemos - is the board director for Permatil and works for the Department of Education in Timor Leste on curriculum reform of art and culture for primary school education, including permaculture school gardens. He is also an accomplished musician, with one of his CDs about permaculture, environmental and peace themed songs that are sung all over Timor. His connection with permaculture and sustainable agriculture started with forming an organic farming student group in 1996 as he studied an Agriculture Degree at UNTIM (now UNTL), he also holds a Masters of International Community Development, Victoria University. His work includes: partnering with Australian permaculturists to translate and train communities throughout Timor Leste; establishment of Permatil; development of partnerships between Permatil and international NGOs on long-term programs revolving around sustainable agriculture, community development and water and environmental protection; training NGOs and community groups; co-author of the original Tropical Permaculture Guidebook from Timor Leste; founder of Permaculture Scout Timor-Leste (PERMASCOUT-TL) combining scouts with permaculture; international speaker on sustainability, food sovereignty and permaculture.

The xpand Foundation – is an Australian based social enterprise dedicated to providing social and economic participation opportunities for children and adults in the Asia Pacific region, to build the local economy, to gain access to education and training resources, to build knowledge at their own pace and within their own communities and move beyond subsistence living. The xpand foundation has 3 key initiatives:
1. WithOneSeed – is working with subsistence farmers to replant the forests of Timor Leste through community forestry activities.
2. WithOnePlanet – Open education initiative is a new inquiry-based teaching and learning system that focuses on climate change education through three themes: Plants (natural science), People (active citizenship) and Place (environmental culture).
3. WithOneBean – Coffee with conscience supports education and environmental projects in Timor Leste.

Disruptive Media is a social business that provides strategic
communication, graphic design, social marketing and publication design
services for the community services sectors (education, environment, child and family, health and disability) in both Australia and Timor Leste.

Other key contributors:
Andrew Mahar AM, CEO of xpand Foundation and co founder of WithOneSeed
Lyn Jenkin, MD Disruptive Media
Rosemary Morrow, Editor and Permaculture expert
Rob Swain and Jules Hartmann, Editors and Permaculture experts
Floyd C. Constable, Permaculturist

You can join us

For more information about the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook. A Gift from Timor Leste. International Edition
Or contact Lachlan McKenzie directly

For your support we'd like to thank you



Pledge Title



(100 only)


thank you

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website


(100 only)

Personalised card

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox


(100 only)

Personalised card and bookmark

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox

4. A traditional woven bookmark (tais) from Timor Leste


(50 only)

Postcard series gift

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox

4. A gorgeous postcard collection from the original guidebook illustrations

5. A 250g bag of WithOneBean coffee (Australia only)


(50 only)

WithOneBean coffee, a poster and a CD

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox

4. An illustration from the original guidebook

5. One 500g bag of WithOneBean coffee


(25 only)

FEED THE SEED - Wow Supporter. Music, art and coffee.

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox

4. You name listed as a donor in the new guidebook

5. A CD from Timor Leste musician Ego Lemos

6. A poster sized illustration from the original guidebook

7. One 1 kg bag of WithOneBean coffee (Australia only)


(15 only)

Permaculture champion supporter

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox

4. Your name listed as a donor on the WithOnePlanet website

5. Your name listed as a donor in the WithOneSeed annual report

6. A CD from Timor Leste musician Ego Lemos

7. A poster sized illustration from the original guidebook

8. A 1 kg bag of WithOneBean coffee (Australia only)

9. One limited edition t-shirt (WithOneSeed or Tropical Permaculture Guidebook)


(10 only)

Sponsorship package

1. A personalised thank you email

2. Your name listed as a donor on the website

3. A thank you card delivered to your mailbox

4. Your name listed as a donor on the WithOnePlanet website

5. Your name listed as a donor in the WithOneSeed annual report

6. A CD from Timor Leste musician Ego Lemos

7. One 2 kg bag of WithOneBean coffee

8. Two limited edition t-shirts (WithOneSeed or Tropical Permaculture Guidebook)

9. Your name/logo listed on the sponsorship page of the guidebook and on the website

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    Offline donation

Team Members

Andrew Mahar

Emily Gray

Lachlan McKenzie

Sandy Ashton

andrew maher

lyn jenkin