A Whole-Systems Design Approach to City Living


  • Sharon Ferguson City of Anchorage, Alaska
  • Jillian Ferguson City of Chicopee, Massachusetts




Permaculture, Planning, Systems Thinking


First paragraphs:

Toby Hemenway's recent book is a well grounded follow-up to his earlier book, Gaia's Garden, which was instrumental in introducing the concept of permaculture to an American audience. Despite the fact that many books on permaculture have been published since its 2001 publication, Hemenway's earlier publication remains the best-selling permaculture book in the U.S.

It is not necessary to have a familiarity with permaculture prior to reading The Permaculture City, as the author has done a masterful job of explaining permaculture principles, design methods, and the steps of the design process. Permaculture is described as "a set of decision-making tools, based on natural systems, for arriving at regenerative solutions to design challenges of all kinds" (p. xii). Permaculture is concerned with the design of ecological human habitats and food production systems. It is a land-use and community-building design method that strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on the symbiotic relationships created among them by the way we place them in the landscape. This synergy is enhanced by mimicking patterns found in nature....


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Author Biographies

Sharon Ferguson, City of Anchorage, Alaska

Senior Planner, Anchorage, Alaska.

Jillian Ferguson, City of Chicopee, Massachusetts

Community Development Planner, Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Cover of "The Permaculture City"



How to Cite

Ferguson, S., & Ferguson, J. (2016). A Whole-Systems Design Approach to City Living. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(2), 315–316. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2016.062.025